Manipulated.

Throughout my life, I have encountered and even lived closely with manipulative toxic people. For many years it was a pattern for me to be intrigued by these personalities. They are confident, strong in their manners and know how to get what they want.

They are Charmers that evolve into Snakes once their grip has you stuck.

Before I became aware of their malicious tactics, I would be consumed in their world. For me, I thought I was learning confidence – observing their ways so I too could be strong with my presence. What I found out was that my confidence was being demolished. I’m a people pleaser and they take advantage of that. I was emotionally beaten to the ground. I felt useless, afraid and confused. You see, they play this game SO well – you are completely blindsided when they trap you. You question your own sanity. You lose all your confidence and are CONVINCED that you need validation from them.

Looking back I am perplexed. How could I allow this to happen? How could someone invest so much time just to cause harm for….control?

I am saddened that people develop this idea in their mind believing that inflicting fear and frustration will get them what they want….but it does! If you don’t know the signs, it is so easy to fall for their ways.

Do they do it on purpose? I don’t believe they ALL do…however, that doesn’t change the fact that people with good intentions are suffering for absolutely NO REASON.

With all the gas lighting happening in this world, it is easy for resentful people to notice how effective these tactics are. From my observation and experience – most of these people are hiding behind a past that lead them to be so cold. Often times from early childhood. That is why it is SO important to teach our children how to live a loving, humble and fulfilling lifestyle.

Now that I have experienced and researched more about the mentalities behind these personalities it is much easier to spot false intentions….But not always…. They are Charmers after all and they come in all sizes and ethnicities.

They CRAVE control. Mainly because they don’t have control in their own mind. They are suffering internally and in order to hide from that they inflict it on others. That way they are validated and don’t feel alone. Misery LOVES company.

It’s extremely hard to cut yourself off from these people ESPECIALLY when they are a close friend, a family member, or a partner you wish to grow with.

I’m literally sitting here with a lump in my throat because I know what I have to do. Even though I don’t want to accept the reality. Staying and hoping for a positive outcome is only wasting time and energy. I’m not growing, I’m fading. Insecurities are seeping from within and pouring out. I can see that my control for myself is slowly being taken away and I cannot allow that to happen (again). I’ve been in a daze but I am back. I know that happiness is waiting on the other side and I’m using the confidence I have left to jump ship. Cutting off someone you care about is probably one of the most disheartening, frustrating and saddening experience to go through…

But we are strong. We have a community and we deserve the love we so freely give away. We can and WILL rise above this.

#WeAreNotAlone

Xx B

Photographer | Kevin Jin Li
MUA | Tanya Tello
Stylist | Carol Lynn Sweets

Therapy: Does It Help?

It is an amazing feeling when I see more and more people speak out about their struggles with mental health. The negative stigma is still intact, however, change is just around the corner. People are beginning to open their eyes to the reality that depression and anxiety is out there and at large. There is a time in everyone’s life where these little demons find their way in. Some are lucky to only experience these internal struggles in times of crisis. Unfortunately, there are many of us that have a constant battle of the mind that at times interfere with our daily living.

Today, I want to discuss with you a natural way to mend your crippled mind that some may find absolutely terrifying: Therapy.

Don Don Don!

Therapy has it’s own stigma in society. Some people feel that if you go to therapy you are ‘sick’ and your last resort was to find professional help. Usually that is when people do decide to buckle down and go. Others feel it is unnecessary and they can figure their sh*t out alone. While these answers may seem true in the minds of those who are stubborn, I have a different outlook on it.

I have battled with depression and anxiety my whole life. After high school I would visit my doctor frequently to try and solve the mystery behind my body’s constant refusal to accept medication. While some medication did help in certain times of my life, in others it made symptoms worse or didn’t seem to work at all. I found myself being very depressed about taking anti-depressants. Why was nothing working?

I had thought about therapy from time to time and always felt it would be beneficial but never making the necessary steps to find my perfect Phycologist. I had other things I needed to worry about. This was my first mistake. I was focused on every other aspect in my life that I wasn’t focused on myself and what I needed. Medication was my quick solution to feel I was doing something to help with my internal struggles even when it wasn’t working.

Let me make one thing clear when it comes to mental health. EVERYBODY is different – we are all wired differently, therefore, we all find different solutions to deal with the body we live in.

I am a huge advocate in doing what you believe your body needs to get yourself to a better state. Whether it is taking medication for a certain amount of time or finding a hobby that helps keep the chemicals in your brain in check. Your brain is VERY complex and you will find it mindboggling the power you have over yourself through the way you use your brain.

What I know for sure: Therapy can help EVERY single person!

No matter the circumstance, talking out loud to someone else releases stress and many times will help you realize things you didn’t observe before. Taking some time out of the week to talk to a professional is helpful to get your brain going. When you get your brain going you experience certain epiphanies. Having a professional is vital because they have studied different mentalities and know the right questions to ask that will bring out some realities you may have been avoiding or somehow never realized. It’s quite astonishing!

First Things First

Ask yourself this: Do you want to help yourself? No one can help a person that isn’t willing to help themselves. Trust me, there were times I was stubborn and wanted to deal with everything on my terms. Once I realized that holding my tension inside was completely tearing me apart I began to do my research. More importantly, I began to break down my walls and open up to other solutions. The first step is admitting you don’t have all the facts and you cannot always see the problems that someone from an outside perspective can point out. You always have room to grow!

Finding Your Match

Word of advice – Don’t just go to the first therapist that pops up on your Google search engine. Many insurances have specific therapist in their network and even with that DO YOUR RESEARCH. Realize that Therapists are human too and sometimes you have to find the right therapist that connects with you on a professional intellectual way. There is one out there, you just have to find them. Trust me, this will benefit you greatly since you will feel more comfortable. Ask your friends if they have a reference or find a support group on Facebook. The answers are out there waiting you just have to ask the right questions.

Keep in Mind

You have to go in with an open mind. Put your ego aside for a moment and allow yourself to listen, observe and FEEL. Letting others in is hard, especially someone you don’t know personally. Remind yourself, a therapist is there to guide you through your own thoughts not fight you. They are there to dig inside your hidden cracks and release the tension you probably feel physically on a daily basis. When you are stressed and your mind is constantly on edge your body will make sure you feel the pain. Releasing that tension through communication is like healing a broken bone. At first you need assistance, then you begin to heal and figure out how to keep healthy on your own.

Psychologist Vs. Psychiatrist

It is up to you whether you decide to see a psychiatrist or a psychologist. A psychiatrist has the capability to write prescriptions so some people are turned off by therapy thinking their psychiatrist won’t really listen but rather write for medication and send you out the door. If that’s the route you would prefer to go, more power to you. They are able to find patterns to best match your symptoms with the proper medication. Personally, I prefer a psychologist. In my experiences, we were able to converse about life and past experiences that helped me realize how I was channeling my energy. I was able to figure out why I reacted to situations the way I did and how to properly handle them in the future. A psychologist may recommend that you see a psychiatrist and in that time you can decide if you want to or not.

This is your life. Don’t spend your time trapped in your own misery. Get out there, observe, and educate yourself so that you can actually start enjoying your life to the fullest!

 

Tips For The Supporter

 

First of all, It is admirable that you are a supporter to those struggling with depression and/ or anxiety. For that I thank you. If you have never dealt with it personally, it can be hard to comprehend how or why others react the way they do. It is obvious that many people are building the courage to speak out about their conditions but there is still a large stigma that casts a shadow over most. 

As a person who has struggled with depression and anxiety for the majority of my life it was hard to feel adequate when those around me just simply didn’t understand. Unfortunately, that placed a lot of self-doubt and frustration on myself. I am one to discuss really anything, I have nothing to hide. I’m an open book with a complex mind.

Through my experience with peers, people reaching out to me for loved ones, and observing others reactions to my closest friends – I’ve noticed that certain reactions from those who want to understand actually make matters much worse. So that is why I’m writing you today. We know what we know and we don’t know what we don’t unless it personally enters our life. So these are a few pieces of advice to consider the next time you are around a loved one or someone in an anxious or depressive state of mind:

I. Understand the Symptoms 

 

This may be something you have to ask on a more casual day: What are they feeling? Is it anxiety or depression? There’s a huge difference and often times they go hand in hand. 

Cheat Sheet

Anxiety – Anxiety ranges. It can be caused by Social Anxiety, PTSD, ADHD, Bi-Polar, stress, etc. Symptoms include but are not limited to: Light-headedness, increased heart rate, sweating, racing thoughts, shortness of breath. 

Anxiety happens quickly. At times it transform into full Panic mode. One moment someone is fine the next they’re are wishing to run out the door and hide from showing their symptoms to peers. Many people suffer their symptoms internally in order to not alarm others around them and release their pain in private. 

Depression – Depression also has several factors but the symptoms are different. When someone is going through depression they may react in these certain ways: Inability to perform simple tasks, feelings of “emotional numbness” or extreme emotional reactions, feeling they or life is inadequate, over sleeping from constant mental exhaustion.

Depression can be situational (death of a family member), seasonal (certain times of the year), or a symptom from a larger diagnosis (ADHD, PTSD, Bi-Polar, etc). 

Research the symptoms you’ve observed and asked about. Since mental health is now becoming more common to discuss, there is SO much unknown information ready to be released. It doesn’t only help the one you care about but it will significantly help you to have a better understanding and not assume.

II. What To Do and What NOT to Say

 

It’s clear that you are not in their mind, they know that. This is why it is important to try and know the facts in advance. That way their reaction doesn’t transform into a losing argument for both of you. When someone is having an anxiety or panic attack their body and mind react like a computer with a virus. All the emotions and thoughts collect at once, switching up and moving around so quickly that they can’t keep up. Asking too many questions in the midst of their panic will become aggravating because they can’t even comprehend their own thoughts let alone whatever question you just asked. So here are a few things that may help the process:

***Remember that everyone is different and certain steps may work for some and not others so keep that communication open over time to find what works best for them.*** 

DO:

– When someone panicking is somewhere they feel safe, find a way to hold their attention. Sometimes a swift touch on the arm or a gentle hug will stop them in their tracks to focus on that feeling rather than their racing thoughts. Some people don’t like to be touched and push away which in some cases are stemmed by a traumatic event that took place in their past (PTSD). In that case, being present and making eye contact when possible can be just enough. If someone is comfortable enough to have you around when they are panicking, that is a very rare occasion that needs your immediate attention. You don’t always have to say or do anything but your presence and reassurance is important.

 

– When someone is in a state of depression it helps to make small suggestions. For instance, going on a walk. At first they may be hesitant and want to stay right where they are but with a little encouragement they will drag their feet out the door and realize a some fresh air is actually a nice release. Often times, people suffering depression are trying to comprehend their emotions and keep to themselves about it. Although talking is wonderful, sometimes being that guide in silence works best. When the time is right they will open up slowly and talk.

 

– When your help doesn’t seem to be doing the trick it’s not wrong to suggest therapy. BUT be careful in how you present it. Therapy has it’s own stigma and it can be a touchy subject for some. If you are able, I would advise to suggest going with them for the first time. Going with them will ensure they actually go. It’s worth a shot, what do they have to lose? 

DON’T:

– Stay away from saying: “It’s just a phase”, “Just be happy!”, “anxiety/depression doesn’t exist”, “You need help”, “calm down”, “you’re just sad” or anything that belittles the situation. Most don’t bring it up until it’s at an alarming state for them. I ensure you that if these words come out of your mouth, they will shut you out.

 

– Stay away from bringing other people into the conversation when someone has an episode. Trying to gain reassurance from peers because you desperately want your perspective to be seen is NOT the solution. People struggling with anxiety or depression already feel their actions are sought as invalid, you don’t need to put anyone in that awkward position. This moment isn’t about you. Again, you will get shut out.

 

– Stay away from forcing conversation. Communication is key in many situations but not in all. Especially when someone is going through depression. Presence is power but forcing communication can be toxic and cause frustration in that state. If someone isn’t ready to talk, they won’t have it – that’s it. However, if you are present and have an open heart eventually they will begin to release their thoughts. Understand that it is not easy for someone to explain something they don’t fully understand themselves. Building trust will be your access to their mind.

III. My Most Important Advice… 

Let me just say it is amazing when someone puts in the effort to understand. It’s one thing to open up yourself to someone else but when that someone else is hurting you may not know exactly how to react. The most important advice I can give is please Please PLEASE don’t treat your friend, your family, or your significant other struggling as a Charity Case. This is a nightmare for most. Sympathy is one thing but singling a person out can be the worst action you take. We know you want to help but sometimes the best way to help is to be a cheerleader and not the action taker. When someone is ready to make a change they will. In all, your presence and understanding can be the best motivator for someone to WANT to change. No one deliberately wants to feel anxiety or the effects of depression, it just take time to soul search and heal. 

Xo,

Brittney

All You See Is Happy

The day Robin Williams left this earth was the day I realized staying silent was deadly. I was not surprised at the reasoning of his passing and I will explain why…
When I was pursuing acting as a career, my mentors would always ask why I and other fellow actors wanted to act. This was always my response:
“I want to be everyone’s escape from reality. People go to the movies to feel a certain emotion. Whether it be excitement, sadness, happiness, fear – whatever! I want to give people that. My role model for acting has always been Robin Williams. I can remember watching Mrs. Doubtfire for the first time as a child. I looked into his eyes during the scene where he was interacting with his kids for the first time as Mrs. Doubtfire and said to the Tv Screen – “I see you” – I want to give people the happiness Robin gave society. I can see that he had the same feeling and desire I have- and that was to be the escape from other people’s negative daily living.”
At the time, that was my passion. That was my mission. That was my purpose.
And then 2014 happened. All the hidden, misunderstood, undiagnosed realities of depression and anxiety fell into my life HARD. I did not know how to change it, I didn’t know how to control it. My life quickly became quicksand – barely breathing but fighting SO hard to get out of whatever this mental trauma was sucking me into…only sinking faster into negativity and sorrow.
August 12th, 2014 – I remember grabbing sushi with my boyfriend at the time and across the way was a huge billboard of Robin Williams above the Improv in Irvine, CA. Williams had passed away the day before. I just starred – drifted off and started evaluating this life event….
And then I finally began to realize – We who suffer from depression and anxiety have a choice. Do we stay silent, keep smiling and strive hard to make those around us NEVER feel the pain and suffering we deal with on a daily basis? No. I really suck at staying silent anyway. But rather, there needs to be a reason and purpose to take these crippling demons and demolish them.
This wasn’t going to be easy.
But it didn’t matter, Robin Williams was now my role model for fighting the truth behind my internal struggles. I did not want to stay silent anymore and I did not want our society to keep loosing such remarkable people due to hiding behind their internal struggles. This is when I became aware that “We Are Not Alone”.
It was then that I realized that my passion wasn’t acting to be the escape from reality to OTHERS – It was an escape from MY OWN reality! I thrived on making people smile, making people laugh, making people feel like they have every reason to live because I didn’t want anyone to feel what I was feeling inside: A bourdon, A mistake, A failure. I didn’t want people to feel like their life wasn’t worth living… because I felt that way about myself.
 My aspirations for acting was set to the side and my focus became stuck on speaking out about depression and anxiety.
First, it was like word vomit. To my friends, to my family. I was in party mode at the time so being intoxicated caused my eagerness to be heard to practically implode! It wasn’t good. It wasn’t the right way to handle my struggles. It made everything worse. I was surrounded by people who didn’t really understand what I was going through – I don’t blame them, they just didn’t understand – But I later found out that sometimes in life you have to remove yourself from people you care about to get yourself back on track. You have to surround yourself around people who DO understand what you are going through to begin to heal…otherwise you will be talking to a very bored, uninterested, frustrated brick wall.
Once I made these hard decisions and basically started brand new, I was in the process of starting my own movement – The NoShame Project. I would go back and forth on the message I wanted to convey. I was still in a deep depression and writing to others really helped me slowly get out of it. I was talking to people who understood the feeling: people who were there and people who had been there before and found a way out of it. The NoShame Project became my new passion to not only help myself but to really have a purpose in helping others. To help others build the courage to reach out to the right peers and finally begin to live again!
I am still struggling with depression and anxiety. However, I finally can understand where these emotions are coming from and take steps to make it better. Depression and anxiety doesn’t just fade away, you can’t just ‘snap’ and be internally happy. It is a long and sometimes very difficult journey. But it is a journey we do not have to embark alone. Behind our smiles, beneath our skin – is our soul, our mind, and our hearts. Do not let yourself go without giving yourself the chance to finally grow. Do not be afraid to face the cracks you hold so deeply within. Set yourself free and always remind yourself that you have a purpose and you have THIS life to take what you may see as a weakness and turn it into your greatest strength!
XoXo,
B