New Camera Vibes

Back in April I finally splurged (cough cough thanks mom) and got myself a new camera. I spent literally months researching and obsessing over a few different options before I figured out exactly which one I wanted to buy. I’ve always been accustom to Canon cameras. They’re what I grew up using, and I trust them, so my first instinct was to stick with that brand.

I was actually in the process of purchasing a Canon when I came across my new baby, the Sony A6500. I was hooked from the minute I saw it. It’s tiny but powerful beyond words. Not to mention the fact that its a mirrorless.

For the past few months I’ve been learning on it, vlogging with it, and treating it like my new bebe child.

In college I used to make these little, very amateur but fun, collage highlight reels of each semester. When I got this camera, I figured, what better way to learn on it than to create similar videos of my time in NYC? That’s how this project was born.

Basically for the entire weekend, this has been my view:

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*plz note the stray bobby pin in the bottom right*

Aside for the random white betch moments… cue picture here:

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…I’ve been editing nonstop. Which meeeeeans, I’m very close to being able to introduce my month by month New York City vlogs! (side note: plz take the word “vlog” very loosely)

I’ll be sharing the videos here, as well as on Youtube, Vimeo and all of my other social media. Keep an eye out!

x

Post-Two Week Hiatus

After two straight months of daily content, I took a much-needed break from posting. But I’m BAAAAAAAAAAACK

I’ve been thinking a lot about what type of content I’ll share moving forward. Here’s what I have in mind:

  1. Definitely keep an eye out for more collaborative posts.  There’s no way in hell I’m stopping those. But asking others to be vulnerable and share their words is a delicate process. It takes time. I’m always open for submissions, though! Feel free to contact me at any of the links above if you’re interested. I’ll definitely be sharing guest-written posts randomly here and there, but as for another month-long project, that will take more time.
  2. Back to more inspired-in-the-moment content. I used to write about what I was currently listening to, daily experiences that really stuck with me, and emotions I felt were worth sharing. I’m goin’ back to more of that fo’ sho’.
  3. New stuff too!!!!!! I want this blog to become a cross between activism-driven collaboration, and an insight into my life. From texts that made me laugh, to memes I can’t get enough of. Pictures of weekly experiences, and whatever is on my mind. I’m going to start sharing it.
  4. A new navigation toolbar is in the works. So whatever you come to this blog for, whether it’s the LGBTQ+ content, mental health related posts, guest-written articles, or my random words, you’ll be able to find it and you won’t be stuck skimming through the other shit you don’t care about.

With that said, here’s my favorite text exchange this week. Hopefully it brightens up your Friday:

 

Pride Month: The End

I want to start this post with a video. This month, content creator and YouTube star, Tyler Oakley,  released a pride-related video series called Chosen Family: Stories of Queer Resilience. I highly suggest watching the entire series, because each piece is unique and powerful, but there was one video that really resonated with me.

I was lucky enough to spend not one but two days during NYC’s Pride Weekend at Stonewall. After watching this video, something just clicked for me.

This month has meant so much to me and I have so many amazing people to shower in endless thank you’s for that. Emily, Tierney, Nick, Jocelyn, Josh, Kevin, Nick, Collin, Alex, Carrie, LJ, Chrissy, and Bia – without you, this month would not have been possible. To say all of your words have been inspiring is an understatement beyond belief. You guys have become more than just a piece on my blog, you have genuinely influenced me to be more myself than ever before.

Spending Pride Weekend at Stonewall made me realize how grateful I am for this month, this blog experience, and all of the people that took the time to read these words every day.

We really have come such a long way since the Stonewall Riots in 1969. Although we still have a lot left to fight for, I just wanted to take a minute to appreciate where we are now.

As cliche as it is, growing up, I would have never been able to find a blog filled with a month’s worth of LGBTQ+ related stories and experiences. On a personal note, even a few years ago I wouldn’t have had the balls to want to create LGBTQ+ content like this either. We/I have come so far and for that, I am so proud.

In all seriousness though, this blog has been so empowering/therapeutic for me these past couple months, but it has grown to become something so much more than that. I am so beyond appreciative for every single person who has been willing to open themselves up for the sake of helping others. I am so thankful for everyone who has read these words, reached out to these writers, and shared this content. Without all of you, my little passion project would be meaningless.

I want to end with a reminder – each of you reading this have stories and words worth sharing. Your feelings and valid and your experiences are meaningful. Content like this needs to be shared. Content like this is raw and real and relatable. Content like this really, truly helps people.

Thank you so much for making my second month of collaborative content one I will never forget.

New content coming soon!

x

Pride Month: Chrissy

Remember last month when I said how crazy and mind-blowing it was to receive so much positive feedback regarding the Mental Health Awareness Month posts? If you had told me then that these Pride Month posts would receive even more views, shares, and positive feedback, I probably would have never believed you. 

More on how appreciative I am for all of that another time, but I did want to touch on it for a reason. The writer of this piece is Chrissy, a friend of my friend Laura. It was so beyond humbling when Chrissy reached out to me to write a piece for this blog (thanks to you too, Laura). This kind of interest from people like Chrissy is exactly why I wanted to start this project in the first place. 

I think Chrissy’s words are important for many reasons. As you will read, she explains a common misconception that many people struggle with. For some reason, there is still this unspoken belief that, as a female, you can’t be both gay and pretty. There is still this massive lingering stereotype that gay men are all chiseled Gods with wonderful taste in fashion, and gay women are masculine,  sports-loving, for lack of a better term, “dykes”. 

Not only do I strongly disagree with this long-standing theory, but I actually believe it can be really detrimental to both people within the LGBTQ+ community, and people still coming to terms with their sexuality. To see what I mean by this, check out Chrissy’s piece below: 

“You’re too pretty to be gay.”

A phrase that holds more power than I could ever imagine. Most people who utter it think it’s a harmless joke after feeling unsure of how to react when I disclose my sexuality. But I wish so badly that I could show them the self-conscious whirlwind it sends me down.

I used to feel so much pressure from society to “be a certain way”, and at first, that meant trying to be “straight.” I was unhappy and uncomfortable in my own skin. I felt empty – like I had no purpose in life when I could not live it, or express myself, the way that made me happy. I felt like I was constantly drowning. There was no coming up for air until I could let the part of me out that would help keep me afloat.

When I first started coming out to people, I felt obligated to be the “right kind of lesbian.” What does that even mean, anyway? Ask most close-minded people, and the responses you may get are “butch” or “dyke”. My personal favorite? “Lipstick lesbian.” A term that is thrown around like some foul, derogatory thing, like it’s the “wrong” lesbian. I felt I had something to prove, as if I had to show people that I could be the “right” kind of lesbian. But not anymore. I love women, and how I look and how I dress doesn’t change that. I am free to love who I want, and that, that is what pride is about for me. This month is meant to show people that it’s okay to not fit in a perfect box. Not everything is black and white. It’s something to celebrate, not something to put others down for. Love is beautiful in its entirety.

While I’ve come to terms with the fact that there is no wrong way to love, I still struggle with getting to the stage of readiness where I can tell other people about who I love. My reality of being a lesbian? Imagine every time you met someone new you had to preface with “I’m straight”. It sounds absurd, right?  To announce your sexuality as if it could make or break a relationship. Or worse, that it’s something that could put your life in danger. That’s the reality I live in. With every new move, every new opportunity or experience, any time there’s a chance to meet someone new, it’s a thought that’s in the back of my head, constantly. How to do it, if I should say it, playing out the worst case scenario of how someone might respond. 

As the years go on, I have realized how much it consumes my life, and though I have become more confident with who I am, the fear of people’s responses has grown stronger. I literally feel an obligation to come out again, every time I meet someone. When I was dating, I felt like I had to explain to everyone that I was gay before I could bring my girlfriend around. Needless to say, the anxiety won out most of the time. Unfortunately,  it has been the cause of many breakups, which is infuriating. I want to be angry at all the people I feel as though I have to explain myself to. But who’s fault is it that I have to explain myself? That is the million dollar question. Where did this notion that I have to “get permission” to be gay around people I consider friends come from? Without anywhere to direct that anger, it can bubble inside. Combined with the anxiety it brings, it’s like the angel and the devil on your shoulder, only worse, because they are both whispering terrible things into your ear.

Working in healthcare, I feel as if I will forever be living a double life. I feel obligated to hide the truth about my sexual orientation for fear that it will impact being hired or being able to maintain a job, or worse, how my patients view me. While I want to be angry at the people who make me feel like I have to hide, I am actually more upset with myself for letting other people have such a hold on my life and how I live it. I don’t feel like me, not completely. Because a huge part of me is missing for the majority of my day, and instead, it is always just tucked away in my mind.  While most of the time it’s not something that’s actively a part of my day, it’s impossible to permanently evade the “do you have a boyfriend?” question. A question I so desperately want to correct, and say, “do you mean ‘do I have a significant other?'” I wish I was just bold enough to respond with, “no, but I have a girlfriend.” That day has yet to come though. I am hoping one day I’ll be brave enough because that day will be the first that I feel infinitely free.

 While I would like to think we’ve made progress in this world, it’s still a very scary place to live in. The fear of rejection can make you feel like such an inadequate human being. It can waste you away into nothingness, and infiltrate your every thought until you actually start to believe that you aren’t worth it, that you’re wrong, and that you’re not enough. If there’s one thing I want people to take away from this, it’s that they are enough. They are worth it. Rejection does not define you as a person but rather, it speaks volumes of those who are unwilling to open their minds. It is so incredibly important to rise above those people and love in the way that feels right to you. That’s why “Pride” is such an amazing experience.  You can feel the power of love, and you can sense the strength of all those who have risen above the worst of it. That strength is what we need.  That strength gives people hope. That strength is why I’m here today.   

You can also check out Chrissy on Instagram: @chrissy_wojo

Pride Month: LJ

Today I am extremely happy to share a post written by the very talented, Lawn aka LJ. I met LJ freshman year of college, and I remember feeling like she was just immediately one of the most friendly, outgoing, and accepting people I had met thus far. 

Freshman year of college is weird AF, you’re trying to get to know people, find your niche, and feel comfortable in a foreign place. I was lucky to have been introduced to LJ through another friend of mine, Kara, and our friendship just felt natural. I’m pretty sure the first time we hung out she literally let me drag her along to a concert hours away from our school, for an artist she had never heard of, and even welcomed us to sleep at her house afterward too. 

Anyway, the reason I asked her to write has nothing to do with that (lol), I just wanted to give a funny little backstory. I asked LJ to write because I think her ideas are extremely important. I’ve been following her on Twitter for years now,  and I just feel like there is so much substance and importance to the things LJ tweets and retweets. I just had this feeling that if I reached out to her, she’d have something unique and valuable to share. 

To be honest, LJ’s piece surpasses what I even expected. I know this month is about “Pride”, but like I have said before, “Pride”, and the meaning behind it, encompasses so much more than just positive experiences. Her words aren’t necessarily about a coming out story or a supportive moment, quite the opposite actually, and I think that is what makes them powerful. I don’t want to give too much away with my summary, so just check it out here:

I’m gay, but don’t tell my coworkers

June. The month many LGBTQA members of our society are looking forward to every year. Why? Well, because it’s the month corporate America so generously gives to the LGBTQA community as a chance to be unapologetically proud of who we are and who we love.

For starters, I am a cisgender gay woman and my pronouns are she/her/hers. I am out to pretty much everyone: my parents, my friends, and even the random girls I meet around midnight in bars while I’m in line for the bathroom.

However, there is one group of people to which I have never uttered the words, “I’m gay” — my coworkers. While many of them probably assume my identity because I never bring a date to our staff parties and can rock a pantsuit better than Ellen, they never bring it up.

Kenji Yoshino best describes this term in his book, Covering: The Hidden Assault on Our Civil Rights. In Laymen’s terms, to cover is to tone down a disfavored identity to fit the mainstream. It’s not a new term and it isn’t solely attributed to the LGBTQA community. There is also racial covering and sex-based covering, but this post focuses on LGBTQA covering.

People cover for many reasons. I cover for fear that my homosexual identity will undermine the quality of work that I produce. I don’t want to be known at work for my sexual orientation because I don’t want to give anyone a reason to dislike me for something that is irrelevant to my work performance.

Is this thought process messed up? You bet. It’s hard going to work every day feeling like I have to censor my true self to cater to the bias and comfort levels of other people.

But covering doesn’t make me feel safe and “in control.” Instead, I feel ashamed and dishonest. I’m ashamed that I care so much of what current and future colleagues may think of me and I feel a dishonesty that is so privileged because I can pass as straight.

It’s also discouraging to think that people I work so closely with every day might suddenly shift their opinions of me because of who I have feelings for.

I guess I have to decide what’s more important to me, the comfort of others or how beautiful my girlfriend will look at our next holiday party.

Pride Month: Carrie

Although this weekend was Pride in NYC, that doesn’t mean my posts are over yet!! I still have a few more awesome pieces to share.

For those of you who know Carrie, are there even words to accurately describe her? Like I’m asking genuinely because I don’t know if there are. Carrie, the writer of this piece, is like the best combination of all of your favorite comedians, rolled into one.

Befriending Carrie felt so natural. It’s just impossible to feel uncomfortable around her. My friend Morgan put it best when she said, “she’s hysterical, yet the most personal and easy going at the same time. She’s a real life example of not taking anything too seriously and counting your blessings.”

That is Carrie to the T. Genuine, compassionate, and without a doubt, always the funniest person in the room. 

She is the type to put her whole heart into everything she does, which is why I am so excited to share her piece for Pride Month today. It’s raw and honest and seriously beautiful. Her words literally radiate this newfound confidence, and I can guarantee you’ll find it just as captivating as I do.

Here it is:

“What are you so afraid of?”

I sat across from my therapist shaking like a leaf. If I could’ve gotten up and bolted to the door at that point I would’ve, but my head was spinning and I thought any sudden movement would send my dinner all over her Persian rug. It was early October, I’d just graduated from college, and I hadn’t seen my friends in what felt like years. You know those heavy, grey coats they used to make you wear at the dentists when they’d x-ray your teeth? I felt like I was constantly wearing six of them– I was a slab of lead, I was dead wood, and I was sick of feeling like I couldn’t speak, or breathe, or grow, or do much of anything, really.

It was my fourth session with my therapist Susan, and I’d made pretty good headway since I had nearly gone into cardiac arrest coming out to her a few weeks prior. I had made some progress, but the real challenge was sitting right in front of me, staring me in the face: I had to come out to my friends and family.

Figuring out the logistics of coming out was turning into a big, gigantic fucking nightmare, and I was getting lost in the details. I felt like I was trying to throw a surprise party, only instead of everyone surprising one person, I was one person trying to surprise a mob of people. What if I tell this person and they can’t keep their mouth shut so they tell someone else, and it spreads? I’m not ready for all of kingdom come to know I’m gay. I can’t do this shit…

Trying to control a rumor is the easiest way to make yourself insane. The x-ray coat began to feel heavier and heavier.

I was in the middle of rambling on when Susan cut me off: “What are you so afraid of? What’s stopping you from coming home, right now, sitting your family down and saying, ‘hey guys, I’m gay.’”

She was right. I was scared. I was absolutely petrified. I thought that coming out meant I’d risk losing the friends/family/relationships that I cared the most about. I thought my friends would think I was weird. I thought my relationship with my sister would change, I worried my little brother wouldn’t look up to me the same way he did. I just wanted things to be the way they were, I didn’t want to be labeled, or boxed in, or put in a corner over something that I had no control over.

I was starting to work myself up into a state, when Susan looked me dead in the eye and said “Well, yeah. That might happen. You may lose some friends, people may look at you differently. But when you’re totally yourself, you’ll attract the true friends, and you’ll build stronger relationships than you’ve ever had before.” 

It’s crazy how the worst thing in the entire world can turn into the most important lesson ever. Yeah, I really did feel like my worst nightmare had come true- but it was the first time that something really clicked. It was the moment I realized that I had to really start to love myself- FULLY- every part, regardless of if I’m different, or weird, or off-the-wall, or whatever. Regardless, unconditionally, I had to be good with myself. I had to get right with myself.

It’s been 6 months since I came out, and while some things have changed, the important things have remained the same. The people who matter couldn’t have been more supportive, present, and encouraging. I’m talking rock stars. The night I told one of my best friends, Cat, she replied with: “Damn. Donald Trump was just elected President and my best friend’s gay. Today is officially the most shocking day of 2016.” We both fell into an instant heap of laughter. 6 months later, and I still crack up telling people her response … like I said. Rock stars.

I realize that not everyone has the same outcomes though. Some people don’t have the people; some people don’t have the support. That’s why, now more than ever, we have got to love ourselves and practice being true to ourselves every day. It’s not easy and it’s something we’ve got to work at. When you’re true to yourself you glow, and you simultaneously give other people permission to do so too.

In the end, nothing is more important than being true to yourself. No image, no idea, no preconceived notions about what you should do with your life, who you should love, who you should be, should come before being true to yourself. I won’t act like I’ve got it all figured out, I’ll be the first to admit that I’m on the first step of a thousand-ringed ladder. But for the first the first time I feel like the ladder is leaning against the right wall.

About a year ago I stumbled upon a post about coming out, and I thought, “damn it, I wish I could just talk to this person anonymously. I don’t want to open a whole can of worms, I just need someone to listen.” If you’re feeling like this, don’t do what I did, and put it at the bottom of your to-do list. Come talk to me. Doesn’t matter who you are, if you know me, if you’re feeling just a hunch, or you’re like WOW IM AS GAY AS SUNSHINE. It’s 2017, but it still takes a heap of courage. The more we can help each other out the better off we all will be.

Special Thanks to you Krump, for asking me to write this blog. It’s one thing to be brave enough to put your stuff on the big bad internet like she does every month, but she takes it a step further and gives other people the opportunity to share their voice too. Hats off to you my friend.

Check Carrie out on Instagram: @carriebrennan

 

Pride Month: Nick

The coolest thing about this collaborative project, for me at least, has been the number of amazing, unique, and inspiring people I have met during the process. Nick is one of those people. 

Nick is a friend of a friend, and honestly, it’s a little shocking that we haven’t met in person yet, seeing as we live in the same city and share multiple mutual friends, but that is beside the point.

When I first reached out to a couple of Nick’s friends about this Pride Month idea, they both, without hesitation, told me how perfect he would be for the project. 

Reaching out to strangers, in hopes that they will bear their hearts for you, is extremely daunting, but Nick has been nothing but supportive and enthusiastic from the start, and I just can’t help but admire him for that. In fact, his initial response to my completely random text was, “Okay so I am so into this and here for it and already know what I want to do.” That. Is. Cool. 

As you will quickly realize, Nick has a multitude of thought-provoking experiences and passion-driven ideas to share. His piece does a great job at highlighting some of the stereotypes that surround gay men, and how those preconceived notions played a part in his coming out journey.  

I hope you all appreciate his words as much as I do. Read it here:

Pride: noun
a feeling or deep pleasure or satisfaction derived from one’s own achievements, the achievements of those with whom one is closely associated, or from qualities or possessions that are widely admired.

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My boyfriend Matt and I

Every year in June the LGBTQIA community celebrates what we call “Pride Month” to honor those who have, and continue to, fight for our rights and equality for all. What pride means to me is so much more than a month in a year. As a gay man from the suburbs of Virginia, I have definitely faced my fair share of discrimination and bullying, but at the end of the day, it all made me stronger.

Coming to terms with my sexuality was difficult enough, but the thought of coming out to my friends and family seemed impossible. I honestly never thought that day would come because I was so scared. I thought I would lose my friends, be judged and thrown to the side, and lose any respect that I thought people had for me. I didn’t even know where I would stand in the gay community. I honestly did not feel like I fit in in any community at the time.

nick soccer

Back in my college soccer days

Growing up I played soccer competitively, which I think threw a lot of people off. People did not think that you could be good at a sport like soccer, basketball, or football, and be gay. This made things even harder because guys who had the word “faggot” in their daily vernacular surrounded me.

How was I supposed to say, “Oh, by the way, that is what I am….”? It also annoyed me that everyone had a certain idea of what a gay person was. Someone super flamboyant, who loved shopping and getting their hair done and blah blah blah. Yeah, of course, there are gay guys who are like that, and they are fucking fabulous and amazing, but that just wasn’t who I was or who I am. I hate shopping. I get my hair cut once a month and I dress like a Dad who just dropped his kids off at Lacrosse practice.  

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My parents visiting the historic Stonewall Inn where the gay rights movement began.

I wanted people to know that everyone is different regardless of their sexual orientation and wanted to change people’s views on that.  So that is what I did. My senior year of high school I came out to everyone in my immediate family and high school.  I was sick of lying, sick of pretending to talk about hot girls (even though they were gorgina and I still live for them), and just not being authentic to who I truly was. I remember how I did it as well. We were at our Senior Beach Week, I was shithouse drunk and a Katy Perry song came on. “California Gurls”…  maybe you’ve heard of it. And I remember just being a Queen and dancing on a table and telling everyone. Nobody was really that surprised. Some people were, but most were just like…. makes sense. That actually made me feel a lot better. That even though they had a hint or feeling, they still didn’t treat me differently. I had a good coming out experience; I did it and could not believe how easy it was. That is, until I left for College.

nick family

With my chosen family Caitlyn (left) and Victoria. They were the first people I came out to and are still my very best friends today.

When I went to College, I had a scholarship to play Division 1 Soccer and accepted that. I won’t name the school but I really did not like it. I knew I was in for a rough experience the moment I landed there, and I actually went back in the closet. Kind of like a turtle peeping it’s head out, being scared, and retreating immediately. I made some life long friend there, and they were the only ones who had my back once things got rough. I kept my sexuality a secret to a very unhealthy point. I had my best friend visit me and we bought lube and condoms and pretended to have sex. Thanks for that Caitlyn! I do not know how we did not laugh the entire time, but we made them believe it. The next day her car got towed and she was wearing a “legalize gay” shirt and my friends saw her. I fucking love that girl but what an idiot.

nick rupaul

W/ Violet Chachki (winner of Rupaul’s Drag Race Season 7) and Carmen Carrera (Trans Activist)

So after that, people questioned things and eventually, I told some close friends there. Most were supportive and some weren’t. The ones that weren’t, I do not keep in touch with. I quit the team, only a few guys reached out, and the rest just talked shit about me and made sure I wasn’t invited to any parties, and that I just wasn’t included in things in general.They also, get this, DE-FRIENDED ME ON FACEBOOK. The nerve. What assholes and how dare they. So I transferred schools and my life changed for the best. I thought about what I went through there, how I overcame it, and all of the amazing support I had in my life, and that is when I had my first feeling of Pride. I was proud of what I overcame, I was proud of my family and friends for sticking by me, and I was proud of the community I was a part of.

nick drag

Dressed in DRAG, Halloween 2015

School went smoothly and all was well and then I decided upon graduating that I was going to move to New York City. I always wanted to live in New York. The idea of it made me have butterflies and it was so foreign to me. Hunnyyyy, it was the best decision I ever made. I first interned here are got a taste and once that happened, all bets were off.

nick pride 2016

Pride 2016, New York, NY

During my time in New York, I have witnessed many victories and tragedies in my community. I was here when gay marriage was legalized across the country. We can now just say “marriage” because gay marriage isn’t a thing. Marriage is marriage, fucking finally. I remember crying at work when that happened and I called my Mom and Dad. That was a great day. I was also here for my very first Pride March and that was an out of body experience. I never felt so normal in my life. Then I realized being normal is overrated. I was also here when the Pulse Shootings happened. I went to Stonewall for the vigil and to date, it was one of the saddest things I have ever experienced.

nick march

March for those murdered at Pulse Nightclub.

 All of those experiences are examples of what makes Pride Month so special. It is a celebration of what we have overcome and what we still have to overcome. We are so far from where we need to be, and there are so many things left to be done. Give your friends a hug, tell them you love them, give them a random compliment.

Just spread love and light because we need it now more than ever. Also, let this month be a reminder that together we will continue to fight for what is right, to not judge each other, to love and support each other, and to drink a lot of vodka sodas because calories do matter.

Happy Pride,
Nick Wright

You can check out Nick on Social Media:
Instagram: @nickreedwright
Twitter: @NICKREEDWRIGHT

He also hosts his own podcast called “Nick Interviews Friends”! 
Listen to it on Sound Cloud (aka binge all 7 episodes now) 

MHAM Post #19: A Great Friend

Today is officially the last day of May… wow. This month and this project have flown by! I’m not entirely sure if today will be the definitive end point of my Mental Health Awareness Month posts (also more to come about an upcoming project soon), but I did save this post for the “last day” for a reason. 

This piece is written by a good friend of mine who chooses to be anonymous (~corporate jobs ya know~). Like I’ve said before though, I think each of these posts has so much weight, regardless of whether or not they have a specific name attached. 

This month has been all about speaking up, sharing your unique experiences, and feeling more understood in the process. I love this post because it encompasses just that. 

The writer shares her journey with her mental health and how she found her voice over time. I really feel that her struggles and her silence are so perfectly described in a way that we call all identify with, and her end points help to bring it all full circle.

Here it isssssssssssssss:

“I’ve always envied people who sleep easily. Their brains must be cleaner, the floorboards of the skull well swept, all the little monsters closed up in a steamer trunk at the foot of the bed.” ― David Benioff, City of Thieves

As the pressure of performing well in college dug its way into my psyche, I began to sleep less and less. For three years, I managed. All-nighters are not unusual in college to cram for an exam or essay, and I could always reset my system once whatever was keeping me up was over. I never recognized it as an actual issue, and often fed my undiagnosed insomnia with cups of coffee and giant red bulls. I’d crash, sleep, and repeat.

But something changed senior year. Everything felt chaotic. After going abroad my spring semester junior year, I felt displaced amongst my friends and overwhelmed with what exactly I was going to do beyond the safe and secure bubble of a college town. I didn’t get either of the first two jobs I applied to, and the fear of failure was crushing me. Sleepless nights turned into sleepless weeks, and I couldn’t verbalize what was happening to me. No one wants to be sick their last semester senior year, but I was. Chronic insomnia is what they call a “co-morbid” condition (sounds a little dramatic, TBH), and often sits beside it’s ugly stepsisters, Anxiety and Depression. Pair that with a thyroid imbalance and a looming feeling of uncertainty, and you have a recipe for disaster.

I wouldn’t have gotten help on my own. I didn’t recognize any of my thoughts as harmful, or my actions as out of character, but my wonderful friends did. I am lucky to have had friends that recognized I was not okay, even when I couldn’t admit that to myself.

The most ironic thing about my experience, is that one of my majors was Communication Studies in college. You would think as a proficient writer who was enrolled in interpersonal communications and leadership classes – that focused on how to bridge gaps between different groups and personalities –  I would have these skills to tackle the crushing fear of failure. I studied the autism spectrum and learned how to communicate effectively with people that are seen as “other” and “different,” yet, when I felt like an outsider, I lost my voice. I couldn’t speak. The stigma crushed me. I was a happy-go-lucky senior, a fairly good student and super involved my college community. My friends know me as a loud, outgoing person. Yet when I had these sudden fears of not fitting in, or not getting a job that I pulled three back to back all-nighters to apply for, I lost my ability to articulate my feelings.

As illustrated through this blog, mental health is a tricky subject. We all have different coping mechanisms and ways out of the dark, and there’s no “one size fits all” solution. When I sat down to write this, I struggled for a while to articulate what truly happened to me senior year. I still struggle with insomnia, but feel very far removed from the way I felt three years ago. But if I learned anything from my experience, it’s that the stigma around mental health issues is pointless. I am glad that this blog gives us all a chance to air it out.

If you take anything from this post and this month, I want it to be those last two lines. The stigma IS (for lack of a better synonym lol) pointless. We are all just human. We all have good days and bad. We all have our struggles. By sharing what we’re going through, we can remind each other, and ourselves, that we are so far from alone. 

Also, check out this writer on Tumblr here: @todayitwasalltheearth (it’s filled with awesome poems/words/art!!)

MHAM Post #16: Hope

I met Hope, the writer of this piece, when we were in middle school. We were, I don’t know, 14 maybe? To this day, I still remember how, when we first met, I thought she had it all together.

No one has it all together, obviously, that’s the whole point of these posts this month. But it’s just so interesting that you still can’t help but assume that about people sometimes. 

Hope has been one of my friends for a very long time now. She’s the kind of person who I used to spend every second of every day with, and I’d still never get sick of her. But even now, we can go months without talking, and the minute we do, it feels like we picked up right where we left off.

That’s something I really appreciate about her. I think there’s a kind of unspoken understanding between the two of us. We just know how each other’s brains work, like we’re on the same wave length or something. 

I know being vulnerable isn’t always Hope’s favorite thing, but I think she’s such a talented writer that I just had to ask for her help this month. She writes in a way that makes people who can’t understand, understand. That’s what I enjoy most about this piece. It’s not as much about specific experiences, as it is about making a concept make sense to others. 

I’m sure all of you will get as much out of this as I did. Check it out: 

I am not generally an open person. It takes a lot for even those I am closest with to truly get me to open up. In fact, I am having a hard time even writing this because of the sheer idea that someone who doesn’t know me will read this and I’ll be exposed in a very vulnerable way. But I have faith in the idea behind why I’m writing this and because of the fact that it might make even one person more comfortable with themselves, or help them realize that there are so many (normal) people who have these types of feelings/problems/issues – whatever you want to call it – that helps a little bit.

I found out about anxiety when I was much younger, although at the time I didn’t have the explanation for it that I do now. I do remember waking up suddenly in the middle of the night, not able to take a full breath, feeling like the walls were closing in. I remember feeling a terrible pit in my stomach, a feeling I have become quite familiar with, thinking that there must be something wrong but for some reason not being able to recognize just what I was so fearful of. I often feel that when people think of anxiety, they immediately associate that word simply with worry. I can’t tell you the frustrating amount of times I’ve been on the other end of, “Well why are you so worried? Just calm down.” If that was a viable solution, I would have been cured years ago! The best way that I can describe anxiety in my case (disclaimer: not the same for everyone) is an overwhelming sense of fear. It’s a fear in the worst way, because you’re not even sure what it’s really of, and in the rare case that I can pinpoint it, it’s usually something that I know in my brain isn’t valid, or even something that warrants this type of reaction. The part that separates anxious people from those who aren’t is that even though you know and can tell yourself you shouldn’t feel a certain way, it will never help or cause it to go away.

On good days, panic attacks are just a few minutes long, they’re slow to come on and I can recognize hours beforehand that they’re creeping their way up to the surface. On the worst day, my calcium levels spiked from breathing so hard and fast that my hands froze up in a weird position that resembles claws, my muscles in my face became paralyzed and my speech became slurred because my jaw went numb (my mom thought I was having a stroke and took me to the ER – a fun day). There are some days where my biggest success has been getting out of bed. There are periods when I go days or weeks being physically and emotionally exhausted from having constant feelings of anxiousness and depression all day, every day. It’s during those times that I can feel myself becoming disinterested and detached from everything around me because it’s so much easier to just go home and wait it out. *Note: I have found it hard to explain to someone that the reason you’re so tired is because of worrying so hard. Although it is a mental issue, the effects manifest themselves physically because your brain feels like it is on a constant treadmill of fear and worry. Something that may seem so minor to someone else, becomes a giant source of gut wrenching uneasiness, which branches into 100 different little anxieties which all bubble up until they become as horrible and thought consuming as the first.

There have been times when I was so scared to get on the train or in my car, I couldn’t go to work. I’ve counted down the seconds to leave a meeting because I know that for whatever reason, any second I might start hyperventilating and crying for no reason at all. It’s a terrible feeling when you have to explain to someone that you “just feel off” but have no good explanation as to why. What does that even mean? To someone else it may seem that I’m just feeling too lazy to carry through on our plans and am blowing them off. But to me, it means that at that moment, the only safe haven that I have is home because at least there I can curl up in a ball until I feel normal again.

In the grand scheme of things, I am so lucky to be who I am and have all that I have-my health, friends, family, the list goes on. In some moments, in the midst of a panic attack or a particularly depressing episode it’s hard to recognize all of the things that I should be grateful for. Some days it’s much easier to focus on the negatives which can drown all of the good out. Treading through the topic that is mental health (that even today has such negative connotations and at times, very little understanding throughout society) is a confusing and painstaking process. I’ve only just recently found a medication and the right dose of it that works for me, and that’s after many years of visiting doctors and talking to professionals.

My hope is that with more open dialogue and open minds, people will feel more comfortable talking about these issues and that society will become more receptive to learning about them.

MHAM Post #12: Gina

Like Sammy (who wrote the first piece), Gina has been one of my best friends for as long as I can remember. It’s honestly difficult for me to even put into words how lucky I am to have known both of them all of this time. 

Growing up, I always had an issue with feeling secure in my friendships. I always believed every friendship I made had an expiration date. Either a time, an experience, an argument, etc that would make us grow apart. 

Gina (and Sammy) have genuinely taught me that I am so delusional for ever thinking that way. We have each had some very difficult, defining moments in our lives, but as cliche as it sounds, we’ve been there for each other through all of it. 


Gina wears a tough exterior that not many see at first glance, and she is often too good at hiding what is going on in her mind at any given time. 

In my opinion, Gina is one of the most intelligent and well-spoken people I know. She doesn’t always take the opportunity to make that known though, which is why I’m so glad she agreed to write this piece. 

Her story is about something a bit different than just generalized anxiety or depression, but it’s just as valid. 

Here it is!!!:


When Krump asked me to do this, I thought it’d make the most sense to write about my experience with an eating disorder. I’ve been hesitant because I [personally] know quite a few people who deal with some type of food/body issue and it’s different for everyone. So i feel like writing about something so specific to me and my body might not be something the majority can relate to. But I guess that’s not the point of this; this is about accepting other people’s struggles and trying to understand someone else’s perspective. My eating disorder might not look like yours. 

I remember people suggesting books to me about other girls who had struggled with eating disorders. I remember feeling frustrated with these books because they portrayed the most extreme examples. Girls who became bone thin and required hospitalization. Girls who only ate carrots and then threw them up (If you know me at all, you know I’m extremely emetophobic!!). I wasn’t that girl and I couldn’t relate to that girl. Since I couldn’t relate to something that I was already resistant to solving, it was easy to dismiss it as not being applicable to me. I would finish the book, the warning, and say “but i’m not that bad”. And I really wasn’t. Something I’ve learned with time is that doesn’t make it okay. I didn’t need to be the worst case scenario to need help. Dealing with the mental issues that surround wanting to starve yourself is still not okay! No matter how much you weigh. I would look at photos of anorexic girls but I didn’t feel like I wanted to look like them. I was slightly underweight and that was enough for me. People told me I was skinny constantly and that was enough for me to stay motivated in my pursuits.  

I eat fairly normally right now, so I feel uncomfortable talking about the “worst” of it. I also don’t think it’s beneficial to anyone to write out the details – especially when it comes to something like losing weight. I did have GERD for 2 straight years, and I want to acknowledge the role my eating disorder played in that. Both in the cause and perpetuating it. A diet of predominantly vodka and tabasco sauce and a need for a real excuse not to eat, respectively.
One aspect of my struggle, that’s remained consistent throughout the past 12 years, is that I don’t think I’ll ever feel comfortable eating meals around new people. I started a new job in January and I could only eat sliced vegetables for lunch for the first few weeks. I worry people are judging me for eating, noticing how fattening it is. I worry I’ll gain weight and people I barely know will be like “well yeah, she eats pasta for lunch”. It took me over 2 years to eat a full meal in front of my boyfriend’s family. I dread when I’m able to eat guilt-free and someone ruins it by making a comment. It’s often in jest and I recognize that outwardly, but it sticks with me. On a contradictory note, I can easily lie about my food intake to make myself seem more relatable. I’ve found that my food issues alienate other young women. I remember new friends being excited to see me binging on junk food, like it made them feel comfortable, and I replicated that in the form of.. lying? To make them feel better about themselves and me. It’s an extremely nuanced set of issues. 

I’ve dealt with this for over a decade and sometimes I don’t think I ever won’t. It comes in waves and I can’t explain them. Sometimes it’s too easy for me to restrict myself to an extreme and sometimes i desperately want to go back to the comfort that comes with that kind of control but I can’t and I give in to food.