Why I decided to start a podcast

Hello, guys! I hope everyone enjoyed the rather short intro to my podcast. Don’t worry, the first episode will be longer for sure.

As for right now, I want to address the fact that some of you are probably wondering why in the heck I decided to start a podcast. Yes, I see you; or rather, I hear you. Let me explain.

I started the podcast to help people through their journey with mental illness and their recovery. I wanted them to have something to listen to that they could relate to and understand. That’s basically the underlying factor of it.

This podcast is in no way meant to hurt anyone, or put people down. It is a source of positivity and a safe space to share your thoughts and feelings no matter where you are in your journey.

For me, it’s been challenging to find a place where I feel comfortable talking about my dark secrets with my illnesses and my recovery. That’s why I started this blog. This blog is one of my safest places to share my heart, and I cannot tell you how happy I am to have a place to put my feelings and thoughts out to you guys where I get such a positive response. It means the world to me so thank you for that!

But coming back to the topic of the podcast, I want to create another safe space for you and myself to talk and share openly about our daily struggles. I want it to be a relaxed conversation where no one is judged or bullied for saying what they feel.

This is where I invite all of you to email me if you would like to be on the show and talk with me about what you are going through. Reach out to me, don’t be afraid, I am here to listen and to be of help. I will not turn away from you.

My email can be found on the ‘Contact’ page of my blog. Make sure to have the subject line read “ATTN: Podcast” so I can be sure to get in touch with you. I look forward to speaking with all of you beautiful souls! Sending lots of love, happiness, and positivity your way.

xoxo

-E

IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT

Hey, everyone!!! I have an announcement to make. I have decided to start my own podcast. Super exciting!!! I hope you’ll all tune in when I post the link to my very first episode. I can’t wait to share it with you.

This podcast is going to be based on self-love and compassion for one’s own body; as well as some current struggles and accomplishments going on in my life. I will talk about recovery. I will talk about eating disorders and mental illnesses. I will speak of life and the journey through it. I will talk about what you want me to talk about. Hint! That’s where you say, “Hey Elena! I’d like to contribute a topic to your podcast!”

This podcast is going to be a bit of a learning experience for me since I have never done one before, but I promise to do my best and make it as smooth and enjoyable as possible for you guys. More details coming soon as well.

So, is everyone ready for the first episode? Who’s excited? *Raises hand* All of you! Good, I’m so glad. I can’t wait for it too.

-E

Coffee

What wondrous things can a cup of steaming, freshly brewed coffee do?

A cup of coffee brings my imagination abroad to little coffee shops in Italy on the corners of the street with bustling bodies running in and out. It also takes me to springtime, when all the blooming flowers and creatures are waking up from their winter slumber.

If you think about it, coffee is the fuel of society. We depend on this drink as if it were life or death. We even go as far as going out of our way to get our preferred cup from the coffee shop we regularly attend every morning before work or school. Funny how that is.

I know I have no place to say anything because I do the EXACT same thing. There’s a cute coffee shop in my hometown in the heart of the city’s center. It’s the one I go to every weekend to get the same thing because I love it. And you know what? That’s ok! It’s a preference! No judgment here. If you like it, get it. Simple as that. Everyone agree? Yes? Good.

A cup of coffee can do many things, but it does one extra little thing for me that I appreciate more than anything. It gives me hope for a good day ahead, a fresh start, a happier time. And that, my friends, is an amazing thing.

-E

Sundays

It’s May. The spring flowers are in full bloom, and the air is filled with a scent of freshly brewed coffee. The sun is shining brightly over the city. Spring has finally settled in nicely, and people are out enjoying their Sunday. Talking, laughing, planning, just being in the moment. How fascinating this is to me.

I tousle my hair for the hundredth time since I took a shower this morning and straighten my maxi skirt. Breathe, Elena, breathe. It’s just a coffee shop I tell myself. I patter up the stone stairs and pull open the door. I am immediately wafted with delicious smells of coffee, breakfast food, and baked goods.

It’s a cute little shop, retro, and hip. The patterned walls with artwork displayed on them throughout the place and cushioned couches with small tables give a homey feel to the ambiance. Not to mention the tunes playing on the speakers. Not too out of date but old enough to give it a vintage feel as well.

I enjoy coming here just to sit and relax and enjoy a hot beverage or some food and read or write. It is comforting and spacious, busy and empty, loud and quiet, happy and playful; but most of all it is calming. The people that surround me seem at ease with the place and with each other. Chatting lightly about anything and everything, enjoying the company around them. Delightful.

I order my food and my favorite tea at the front and then sit down in the far corner near the window. I open up my laptop and begin to write this chapter. With breakfast in my belly and a tea close by I type what comes to mind.

This for me is happiness. This is what Sundays should be like all the time.

What makes this experience so great is the fact that I didn’t need someone to be there to validate me or my decisions. I am hanging out with myself. Cool. I can handle being in a public place alone without much anxiety. This is a huge accomplishment, and I could not be prouder. Good job, me. You’re killing it!

Overcome your fears and they will not control you. Be fierce, my darlings, be unstoppable.

-E

Because I am Continuing

To all of you who have diligently followed my everlasting journey with me, thank you. You give me the courage and the strength to write in an expressive way so others may understand the daily struggles of someone with a mental illness.

To those of you suffering, I am with you. I understand, and I am here. I am fighting for freedom and sanity along side you and I will not give up. I will support you with all of my beings; from the tips of my toes to the top of my head.

To my loving family, thank you for every sacrifice you make for me. I am forever in debt to your kindness and gentility towards me.

And finally, to my own self, keep going. The light at the end of your dark tunnel is just around the corner.

-E

Labels

Labels. What defines them as acceptable? What makes them tolerable in our society? A label is a defining term that is used to describe someone or something. It’s a word that people can identify with because it’s a generalization of a certain group of people, a look or behavior or belief. A label can be useful, but for mental illness, it can be degrading, demeaning and hurtful.

In the last 6 months, I have accumulated some pretty harsh labels: Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD), Depression. I know, scary right? I never even expected to be hit with one label, let alone three. Three mental illnesses trapped inside my body, making me feel this inexplicable feeling inside. Three mental illnesses…

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The Labeling Theory is how people identify with their own self-identity. This self-identity could be influenced by the terms used to classify them. This theory was popular back in the 1960’s, and 1970’s; modified versions of the theory have been invented as well that are still popular today. “Labeling theory is closely related to social construction and symbolic-interaction analysis. Labeling theory was developed by sociologists during the 1960s.” (Wikipedia, 2017)

I find that associating with my labels helps me to identify my problems, but it doesn’t teach me how to fix them. I mean, the whole point of recovery is to get better right? Solve the problems, get back on track, that sort of thing. Having a label that doesn’t do anything to fix the problem is kind of pointless don’t you think? I’m all for wearing my labels proudly and showing the struggles I have overcome, and wearing my labels comforts me sometimes, but I somehow still end up unable to function some days. How do I deal with that?

My labels do nothing for me, really. I find that they make me worse. I wear them proudly on the outside, but on the inside they make me cringe. I hate having labels. I hate being those labels. I hate when people use my labels to define who I am. That is something that I will NOT tolerate. I am not a label or a bunch of labels. I am a person. A person of value. A person who needs some help. A person who desires to be happy and loved.

I got off track there a bit, sorry. Back to my discussion on labels. So labels tend to be words that can seem general to others, but to those of us who actually identify with those labels, it’s not so nice. We overthink and stress about being the label we are given, and it drives us crazy. We don’t want to, but we can’t help it. It’s our natural reaction to being worried about what people will think of us when we have to have the “mental health conversation.” Especially with someone, we may be interested in having a relationship with. Warriors, you know what I mean. Happens EVERY time.

Having a label can lead to other things such as stigma and discrimination. “The lives of people with mental health conditions are often plagued by stigma as well as discrimination. Stigma is a negative stereotype. Stigma is a reality for many people with a mental illness, and they report that how others judge them is one of their greatest barriers to a complete and satisfying life.” (Canadian Mental Health Association, 2017) SEE? Proof that having a label can affect how others treat people with a mental illness.

Here is another longer and more detailed description that explains the effects of stigma on a mental illness. It correlates to having a label because the label is what gives people stigma in the first place. “There are significant consequences to the public misperceptions and fears. Stereotypes about mental health conditions have been used to justify bullying. Some individuals have been denied adequate housing, health insurance and jobs due to their history of mental illness. Due to the stigma associated with the illness, many people have found that they lose their self-esteem and have difficulty making friends. Sometimes, the stigma attached to mental health conditions is so pervasive that people who suspect that they might have a mental health condition are unwilling to seek help for fear of what others may think. Experiences of stigma and discrimination is one of their greatest barriers to a satisfying life.” (Canadian Mental Health Association, 2017)

So what is the point? What do we need labels for? NOTHING. GET RID OF LABELS AND START LOVING PEOPLE FOR WHO THEY ARE, NOT WHAT A LABEL SAYS THEY ARE.

Now, I hope you’ve all learned something here because I have. I learn new things about mental illness every day. I learn about how many people have had it for so long, how many people developed a mental illness so young, and many other things. It’s mind-blowing for me to try and understand all of it. I wish there was a way to consume a lot of information about one topic at a time but the only way to do that is to read. One page at a time. So I guess I just have to keep reading and talking to other people who want to share their stories with me.

One significant thing I have learned that I can leave you with is that from having a mental illness, or rather, three mental illnesses, is to NEVER look at the labels. Look at the substance, the human substance. The human substance is worth more than anything. People are worth so much more than their mental illness and their label. A label is just a word. Do not be afraid of those of us who have a mental illness. Chances are (100%) that we are more frightened than you are.

-E

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Sources:

My Biggest Trigger

People always say to stay away from your triggers. People always say not to run back to what broke you. People always say to stay away from danger. But did people say that sometimes the danger you should stay away from would be the people you shouldn’t have to stay away from? Did they tell you how painful it would be to struggle between wanting to stay away and staying close to them because that’s all you’ve ever known? Did they tell you anything at all?

I don’t want them to be a trigger for me. I don’t want to hurt people. I don’t want it to be this way, but it is. It has to be this way. I have not come to fully understand this until now. My biggest trigger is my mom and dad.

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Detachment from your primary caregivers is the one thing that can ruin a family. It sucks the life out of every member of that family and takes its dreary toll on them over the years. I mean I could tell you about how much it sucks but I won’t. The words ‘detachment from your primary caregivers’ should be frightening enough.

Being Borderline has made my family’s life hell for most of my life. My detachment has made my family suffer through so many years of trying to understand where they went wrong or how they could help me more. This, in fact, is somewhat untrue because my family has helped me in more ways than I can count. Their love and devotion to try and understand me have been present since day one. They also didn’t go wrong. They did the best they could with what they knew, and that was it.

Being detached from the people you love is definitely a difficult thing to be because, the farther away you are from them, the harder it is to connect with them. That familial connection is so important. For my family, there is a minimal connection. We fight daily about the smallest and biggest things that mean nothing and everything all at the same time. I mean really it’s quite the war.

This war amongst my family members and myself has been happening for as long as I can remember. I was detached from my parents and siblings even as a child. I just did not have a bond with them like I did with my grandparents. My grandmother and grandfather were the centers of my world, and they still are. We would spend every second together; laughing, playing, singing, cooking, doing chores, gardening, swimming, going on adventures, learning; basically everything. As Julia Child’s husband would say, they were “The butter to my bread, the breath of my life.”

The ‘Golden Years,’ as I like to call them, were short-lived. Seven years. They lasted for seven years. Once my grandmother passed away, my grandfather and I were never the same. I bottled up my pain while he freely let it show. I don’t know how he did it, but he found peace. I wish I could say the same.

In any case, the dynamic between my parents and my siblings has suffered a great deal. I am…detached, for lack of a better word and for the sake of using the correct terminology. I have yet to understand why this detachment still exists, but I do know that the reason I was detached as a child was that I was so close with my grandparents. I know this hurt my parents a lot, and I have so much sorrow inside for what they have suffered, but I do not regret and will not apologize for the wonderful times I spent with my grandparents.

I’ve noticed just now as I’m writing and re-reading what I have already written is that I am telling a very skewed story here. I mean, yes I had a great time with my grandparents, but there were also wonderful times with my parents and siblings once they were born some years later. I can just see the joy and love in my mother and father’s eyes as we play a family game or do something together as a family without arguments. Those moments make me happy too.

I realize now that I’m rambling (sorry), about my crazy family life. I guess I’m just hoping things get better so that we can get back to laughing and having fun as a family. I miss those days. I miss being able to share my happiness with my grandmother; my grandfather and I get so lonely without her sometimes. We miss her so much. So much…

Some days, I feel as though my family is too broken to be fixed; too hurt and destroyed to be glued together again. Other days we are soaring through the day on good terms and having the time of our lives. Well, at least this is how I feel and see things. I hope my siblings and my parents see this too.

If you or your family life is in danger of being torn apart by a member of that family who has a mental illness, please seek help. Our family has looked into it but has not decided on anything yet. This is from someone who is the only family member with a mental illness and the only family member who is seeing a social worker and a psychiatrist. It’s a way to alleviate some of the pressure and the pain off of the shoulders of yourself and your family members so please, go seek help if you need it. There is no shame in asking for help. Do not feel less than anyone because you did. You need to do what is best for you and your family, not anyone else.

-E