What Not To Say To A Person With Mental Illness

Since World Mental Health Day just happened on Sunday and I have yet to pay tribute to it, I wanted to shine some light on some ignorant things that are often said to people suffering from mental illness. I think it’s incredibly important to speak up about the seriousness of mental health and end.. the…stigma. I’ve already shared my anxiety story in a previous post (so if you’re curious.. go read) because I wanted at least one person to read it and know that it’s okay to talk about. I also want you readers to know that if you’re ever feeling down or anxious or anything in between, I am 100% here for you to reach out to or message. Don’t ever think that there is nobody out there. I understand your feelings and I know what it’s like to feel alone.

If this post is just TOO DEEP for you then you don’t need to continue.

Here are some things to NOT say to a person with mental illness:


“You’re just doing it for attention”

This one really gets me. Right, I’m having a full-blown panic attack just so I can make people feel bad for me. There are probably 4,000 other ways to do things for attention (like post a scandalous tweet or tattoo a lovers name on your forehead) and depression, anxiety and all the other illnesses out there aren’t those things. If anyone ever says this to you, let them know that they’re a total a-hole. Instead of pointing fingers and accusing.. use the energy to help each other.

“You’re too old to be acting like this”

IMPORTANT: You don’t outgrow mental illnesses. This relays to the ignorance and stigma towards the mentally ill. Saying this to a person can make them feel even more small and helpless, which are two things they DON’T need. Sure, it may be “odd” to you seeing a 22+ year old on the ground in a panic (maybe some screams included), but pushing them down when they need to be lifted up is the worst thing you can do. Also, several people have specific things that trigger them.. don’t make fun of them for not being able to swallow a pill, ride an escalator, go into crowds, etc. It’s beyond their control.

“Everyone Freaks Out About Things..”

Yeah, some people get nervous for a job interview or a first date.. but that is not an ongoing mental illness. The average persons “freak out” is a 2 on our scale of 10. We know that nobody is completely worry free. Although you may be trying to calm us down and make us feel “just like everybody else”, it’s unfortunately not working.

“What Do You Want Me To Do?”

Just be there to hold our hand and help us come out of whatever if happening. Asking us what to do can push us deeper into a panic or depression, because we don’t even know what to do. Just keep telling us it will be okay. Knowing you are there for us is good enough most of the time.

“I Thought You Were Over This?”

There are good times and really bad times with mental illness. You can go years, months or weeks with nothing going wrong and then all of a sudden, out of nowhere, you are completely debilitated. So no, unfortunately the “over this” was only temporary. It can always creep back on you. It doesn’t mean it will ruin you forever, but there will be times worse than others. Be patient and accept us during this time.


Never stop fighting for our acceptance in society. It will get easier.

Don’t forget to laugh and smile and be beautifully you.

If you need help.. get help. There is nothing wrong with it. It’s like going to the doctor for the flu.

Thanks for reading and helping to end the stigma.

xoxo Emily

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My Anxiety Story: Raw + Real

I have anxiety and panic disorders.

I wanted to lay that out right away (if the title of this post didn’t already tell you) because this whole post is going to be me honestly and completely explaining my life with those disorders.

If you’re not interested in my personal story, that’s okay, but don’t think that you should be ignorant and uninformed on this illness. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, 40 MILLION PEOPLE have to deal with this on a daily basis. That’s right. 18% of the population. That means at least 4-5 people in a class of 30.

It’s important to understand that just because people suffer from anxiety, panic and depression does not mean that they are ‘crazy’. It is as uncontrollable as getting the flu and if we had our way we wouldn’t go through this at all.

Open your eyes and accept.

Since I was very, very small, as soon as I can remember, I’ve had irrational fears. I was afraid of (just to name a few) clowns, doctors, dentists and dogs. When I was young, most of the fears were understandable. I could easily get away with my episodes because it was still cute. But, like everyone, I got older.. and I didn’t outgrow my fears.

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I went into elementary school and I was fairly social. I had a good amount of friends and did well academically. But, there were still moments where I was afraid. Around this time is when I learned how to hide what was happening to me. It was so helpful and eventually I could talk myself out of the panic. I did well for a few years into middle school.

This is when it started getting worse. I was afraid of almost everything and hardly anyone could understand. In turn, I pushed myself away from most people other than my close friends (most of who I met in jr. high) so no one could see me freak out. I figured if I isolated myself, maybe it would go away. I feared going into classrooms with a large amount of peers because I felt everyone could tell I was panicking. It was an awful, traumatic cycle. Thankfully, I found an amazing circle of friends who understood and would calm me. I finished Jr. High feeling pretty good. I was excited for high school to start.

My Freshman year of high school was not bad at all. I had a really good time and felt secure and happy. I listened to the music I liked, wore dumb clothes and hung out with my friends (typical 14/15 year old). It was almost like all my anxiety had been pushed back on the shelf. Of course, I had random panic sometimes, but often music was my ultimate medication (not cheesy, it’s true).

But, then Sophomore year came. It all started up again. I feared going to class, driving and just about everything else. It was total torture. I would start hypervenilating in the middle of a quiet class and make an excuse for the nurse to let me go home, because ‘anxiety attack’ was not a valid illness. Often, she would tell me to have a mint and sit down. I was at the nurse probably 2-3 days a week; they knew me by name.

Junior year wasn’t any better. It was probably my darkest point in terms of depression taking me over. My grades were suffering from missing school, everyone was talking about college and I was terrified. For a while, I didn’t know if i’d be able to get into any colleges. This added even more stress. Overall, It was a year of full on panic.

Senior year the panic again slipped away. My grades went way up, I got into some more artsy programs and started totally focusing on my writing. I had wanted to be a writer since I was young and it felt so achievable then. This, I believe, boosted my confidence and helped me push through my year and graduate. Graduation was an amazing day for me; I made it out of the place that I had such awful memories with (panic related, everything else was fine).

The first few years of college went very well for me. I started working out, lost a good amount of weight and finally felt like myself. I had been stress-eating for comfort for a long time. I started attending Columbia College and felt completely at home. Freshman and Sophomore year zoomed by.

Last year, everything started to come to a halt. My panic attacks were back. I had to take a semester off from Columbia in the fall due to some financial reasons (Columbia is so expensive). I think this took a toll on me emotionally. My world I had created for myself in the city was essentially taken from me. I laid low, worked at home and went to community college. I was just okay.

Then, Spring 2015 I decided to go back to Columbia. I moved in with a friend downtown, which turned out to be a very poisonous environment. I was stressed. I had to leave that apartment and move back home to commute daily. I did it and finished the semester, but there were days where I had to leave class, go to the bathroom and splash myself in the face because I ‘couldn’t breathe’. This was also a time where I was still drinking black coffee, which I now know was an awful decision.

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Fast forward to now and I’m dealing with my panic now more than ever. I have never in my life taken any medication of talked to anyone outside of family or friends about my disorders. I’ve always been a big believer in natural remedies. I tried yoga, which did help but turned out to be crazy expensive. I did all the breathing techniques; these still help. The last few weeks have been back-to-back panic attacks. I’ll tell you what happened to me yesterday:

I was on the train heading into the city for my first day of class. It was around an hour and a half ride, stopping at every stop, and I was just browsing Twitter and Instagram.. totally relaxed. Then, out of no where, about an hour into the ride, I started fully panicking. This is an extremely terrifying experience to deal with while you’re alone. I was numb, couldn’t breathe, blacking out and crying. How I got off the train is a total blur. I remember running to the elevator and then sitting in a corner hyperventilating. I couldn’t go to my first day of class.

For the first time in my whole life of dealing with this, I knew I needed to see a doctor. I have finally accepted help and medication to get myself under control and get my life back in order.

The next few months will be a trial in helping myself. I can’t say I’m not worried that it may not help, but i’m hoping for the best.

I hope that maybe sharing my story, and struggles, will help at least one person, somewhere. I don’t want it to be a secret. Why should my illness have to be pushed to the side and ignored?

I am not crazy. I am not any less human.

These issues are very important to me. As a person who suffers daily, I want to see a more positive shift in the treatment of people with mental illness. I think there should be more done in schools for young people, and more care for people of all ages.

I want the stigma ended, truly.

Anxiety, Panic and Depression don’t just go away. We can’t just stop.

How I Stay Energized Without Coffee (From A Former Caffeine Addict)

    About a year ago, my daily routine included waking up and going for a Starbucks black iced coffee. I would go to class, get whatever else I needed to get done and then end up going for another cup. The typical routine for a college student (especially in the busy city). It was great for a while; I felt like a superhero able to do whatever I needed. I had extra energy to work out and stay up all night to finish homework.  I went to Starbucks so often that I had earned the privilege of the almighty GOLD CARD (a special gold, glittery card with your name on it which gives you a free drink after 12 purchased drinks).

I thought everything was great until I noticed that the stimulant had started stimulating.. but way too much. It triggered my anxiety disorder and had me shaking and in full-blown panic mode. I knew I had to kick it to the curb. Not only were my poor teeth suffering from the heavy staining of black coffee, but my nervous system just couldn’t take it anymore. I was pretty upset that I had to let it go; there is nothing I love more than a fresh brewed cup. But now, a full year later, I am doing completely fine without it.


Here are some ways that I keep energized WITHOUT coffee..

1. TEA

If there is one thing I could hype up to everyone.. it’s tea. Not only are a good amount of teas really healthy for you, but most of them taste really, really great. There are plenty of caffeinated options such as green tea and black tea that range from 25-70 mg which is plenty to give you a buzz to keep going; brewed coffee has 200 mg of caffeine (and if you’re anything like me.. beware). When I’m really not feeling caffeine at all, Rooibos tea is great caffeine-free option and they have the best flavors.

2. EXERCISE

It may sound backwards, “how can putting out more energy make me less tired?” But, believe it or not, working out is one of the best things you can do to feel more energized. Even if it’s as simple as a walk around the hood or a bike ride with your guy/gal (or even your dog if you have a basket) you are getting your heart pumping and body moving which is enough to make you feel better.

3. DIET

Nobody’s perfect: I can’t say this enough when it comes to eating. Especially if you’re from the Midwest like I am, you understand that we love food and no one can stop us. But if you substitute your deep dish and everything Portillo’s for some healthy alternatives you will notice a serious shift in your mood and energy levels. When the body is getting the nourishment it’s supposed to be, you will feel it from the inside. Start your morning with a healthy breakfast instead of a few donuts and notice the difference. It truly speaks for itself.

4. SLEEP MORE THAN 4 HOURS

I know.. so hard, right? If you live a busy life you know how hard it can be to get a good nights sleep. But, try your best to not put sleep on the back burner. Your body needs at least 6 hours to be able to function properly throughout the day (even though 8 is recommended). So, if you can, cut your night out on the town a few hours early (if the sun is coming up you’ve probably over done it) and get that needed sleep time. You will feel way more energized than you thought possible.

5. KEEP BUSY

If you have a full day agenda, you will keep moving and keep focused which in turn keeps you from sitting around and feeling sluggish. Start a hobby, join a club, make plans with friends you haven’t seen in a while and get going! There is a good chance you’re not as tired as you think you are.

If you guys can relate to the coffee blues, then try out some of these tips and you will no longer be reaching for that cup o’ joe. 

6 Struggles a Chicago Student Searching for an Apartment Knows Too Well..

The time has come to leave the dorm rooms behind and say hello to your own bedroom. You’re in your twenties and the thought process is like: “I’ll just find an apartment this year.. they’re everywhere”… and yes.. they are.. but, it is a little harder then that. With Fall quickly approaching, know what to remember and look for while on the hunt:

1. You Want the IKEA magazine apartment on a student loan budget

The easiest way to sum this struggle up is that you probably have exceptional taste and standards.. which is normally awesome. But, unfortunately your Logan Square apartment might not be exactly what you have envisioned. I mean come on, what do you expect for $700 a month. It’s all about how you decorate and hide the imperfections. Sorry, but unless you have the money you will not be living on the Gold Coast… and that is OKAY.. you are broke probably.

2. You Find the Perfect One! (or So You Thought)

“A 2-bedroom, 1 Bath place in the middle of Wicker Park for $900 a month? The pictures look sooo nice.” I think we have all been here. You have found a great deal and it looks like what you want (and there’s even exposed brick). You schedule a viewing, you walk in AND WHAT THE HELL IS THIS. It’s not hard to take make a place look okay through pictures. Just know that going in you may not see exactly what you’re expecting. Again, going back to #1, if you don’t have a lot of money.. don’t expect the best in Chicago.

3. UTILITIES

This pretty much speaks for itself. Water, gas, electric, cable, and internet: AND NO YOU CANNOT LIVE BY CANDLELIGHT AND BRUSH YOUR TEETH WITH BOTTLED WATER WHILE WATCHING NETFLIX OFF YOUR LAPTOP. I mean you can, but who really wants to do that. Just remember while looking for apartments you will want to factor in the extra $100-$150 bucks a month and don’t think just because you didn’t use any that the roommates will cover you… they will kill you.

4. Access To The CTA

Unless you are that one kid, you don’t have your car in the city (PARKING AND GAS DOWNTOWN ARE BOTH CRAZY OVERPRICED) and you rely heavily on the Chicago Transit buses and train lines. Most colleges now provide the Ventra Student Pass which allows unlimited usage for one low fee included in the tuition.. which is super nice. So, while looking for your new place, pay attention to where the closest transit is located. If you are on Craigslist and it says “close to transit” that could be BLOCKS away. Unless you want to waste your spending money on Uber rides.. plan ahead.

5. Know What Neighborhood You’d Like To Be In

Do not blindly go into apartment searching and wind up in Englewood (sorry Englewood). Do your research online and ask fellow students and Chicagoans where they live. Chicago can be a threatening place if you don’t know where to be. Places like Wicker Park, Logan Square, University Village and Lincoln Park are good spots to be if you can find a deal.

6. Finding The Right Place Could Take Weeks

Don’t just jump into the first place you look at (unless you waited til the very last minute). Try at least 3 places and make the decision then. Scrolling through Craigslist and other apartment searching websites can be super annoying and tedious, but if you want the apartment of your undergrad dreams then recruit your roommates and start a hunt.

Don’t get discouraged, keep looking and you will find a decent place to live. We are in this together, College Kids.

“I’m not a stick anymore, but I’m doing okay”

“Hey I didn’t know a whale was coming to the pool tonight,” said a little boy to me as I passed a group when I was 10 years old at our local swimming pool– the first person to ever make me feel self conscious.

To sum up some history before we begin…..A few years ago, I took a trip with my close friends Sam, Michele and Zack. We went on a lovely tropical vacation to Punta Cana and it will forever be one of the best memories I will have. I was fresh out of high school and excited for the future. But, one thing was still holding me back and causing me serious torment: the voice in my head telling me my body was wrong. I went on my trip, had a great time and came back home to look through the tons of pictures we took. There was only one thing I could focus on..my weight. I could barely stand to see myself in these pictures. I have always been a junk food queen because of my pickiness in foods that I actually like but I hadn’t realized how far I had let myself go. To others I was ‘normal’ weight but I couldn’t just be ‘normal’. I didn’t feel comfortable. So I started dieting and exercising. From October 2012 – June 2013 I lost a total of 36 pounds. To be quick.. I went to school in the city, stopped working out, drank a lot and ultimately stopped caring about my “fitness”.

My self-esteem quickly plummeted. I no longer felt confident in clothes, my skin wasn’t shining like it used to, but ultimately I felt okay. I was back in control of my life and there was no constant voice telling me to count calories and exercise.

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My first week at college

Fast forward to today, leaving those habits over two years in the past, and I’m doing okay. I still exercise now and then (not everyday) but not to the point of overexertion. I try to eat healthy but I’m human and also I have a chocolate addiction so I’ve gained a little weight. My arms aren’t the rock hard muscle machines that I made them anymore and my stomach has gained a little pudge leaving behind the toned tummy I once had. I can’t lie and say sometimes I don’t get discouraged and even upset about myself but I’ve learned to know my body and I know this will help me become who I want to be.

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Today (i’ve gained 10 pounds)

I’m not fat, nor do I think I’m fat. I’m a healthy weight. I still get called “tiny” and “small” and guess what? I don’t go to bed starving anymore.

To those who sometimes don’t feel comfortable in their skin.. this is my advice to you:

1. You Can Be Beautiful and Confident At Any Size

I know.. hard to believe this when media is shoving skinny and toned down your throat (and if you ARE skinny and toned good for you, girl!! that’s awesome) but..there are other body types aside from slim and tiny. I am a firm believer in shining from the inside out. If you get yourself in a good place mentally anything is possible physically.

2. Do NOT crash diet.. PLEASE. 

If you want to lose weight the healthy way, put yourself on a natural, whole food diet change. Replace the processed foods America loves for things from nature, or close to nature. I’m talking fruits, vegetables, whole grains, seeds, nuts, legumes, and low fat dairy. If you stick with these foods and don’t overeat.. I can 100% guarantee you will see a difference in your reflection within a few weeks. ALL THOSE OTHER DIETS OFTEN END IN BINGE EATING AND GIVING UP.

3. Do Not Go To Tumblr and Instagram For Your ‘Thinspiration’

Especially under that hashtag. Most of those girls (and boys) are suffering from real, severe eating disorders and should not be administering diet advice. There is no reason you should eat a total of 200 calories a day (half of which are crackers and diet coke). The pictures you see are seriously ill people and should not be idolized.

4. Understand Your Body Type

Each body is constructed differently. Some girls can NEVER have a thigh gap, sticking out collar bones or that new asian thing where you wrap your arm all the way around your back to your waist to see if your skinny or not (if you don’t know what I’m talking about feel free to look it up). I’m sure there are other wacky ideas for what makes you ‘thin’ out there: Ignore them please and find your own ‘what makes me feel good’

5. Being Curvy is ‘Acceptable’

As sad as it is that we have to wait for something with our image to be ‘acceptable’ in modern society, guess what girls? Boobs, butt and thighs are in.. and bigger than ever (literally). Nicki, Beyonce, Kim and more have been flaunting their good goods and giving us the green light on saying yes to that bowl of pasta and maybe even a doughnut without tons of regret.

So no matter how you look, no matter what you’ve been through (or maybe if you’re going through something now), no matter what anyone has said to you..

  • Realize YOUR beautiful
  • Know your limits
  • Keep yourself healthy

Frappuchino Crappy Hour — Finals Week’s the Worst.

It’s 4:30 and I’m sitting at Starbucks dealing with the overwhelming stress of the last two weeks of the semester. Who knew art school would induce the want to jump from a moving vehicle? Okay, it’s not that bad.. But I am just WAITING for those summer weeks of freedom from deadlines and grades.

I chose to visit a Starbucks at the absolute worst time: 3:45 during frap happy hour. This Dearborn street location is (unfortunately) right next to a high school so I came at the perfect time to push past a thousand teens just to get a tea and steal their wifi. 

Sitting here I can kind of compare my next two weeks to the employees of this Starbucks during happy hour. Everything is calm, people just come in for their coffee and go on their way, and then the time comes and everything is THROWN AT THEM. Then eventually the calm comes again and it’s all over.

Do you get my analogy? It makes a lot of sense in my head. 

So I’m trying my best to pull it together and come out strong (despite dealing with some serious conflicts that have made it very difficult). 

For those of you struggling with the end of this semester… I’m with you.

Try not to drown yourself in liquor.

5 Ways to Naturally Relieve Anxiety 

Anxiety, Panic, and Depression…. If you’re familiar with these debilitating illnesses you know it sometimes feels impossible to escape. But, know you’re not alone: over 40 million Americans are feeling the same way. Although it may seem like the pharmacy is the one and only oasis..Here are some calming things you can do to naturally relieve yourself:

1. Exercise and Yoga 

Working out releases endorphins through your body that will instantaneously improve the way you’re feeling.. and while you’re at it maybe you’ll get an even more improved version of your already awesome bod. Next time you’re feeling overcome with negative feelings.. head towards the gym or pull up a YouTube tutorial and do it at home.

2. Clean up your Diet

Nobody’s perfect. We all love to indulge in the delicious treats and meals that make us happy. But, believe it or not, some foods can actually enhance symptoms of anxiety and depression. Coffee, chocolate, and other caffeinated foods can trigger panic attacks and uneasiness. Instead try a lightly caffeinated tea.. It will keep you awake but not freak you out. Alcohol may seem like an easy self-mediator, but actually can drive you deeper into intense depression. Try to limit drinking to 1-2 times a week. Processed foods are also good to avoid. Try incorporating fresh ingredients into your everyday meals for gradual improvements.

3. Keep a Journal

Not comfortable sharing your feelings with others? The time will probably come where you will feel able to talk to someone, but until then try writing down the way you’re feeling in a personal journal or diary. This will help get heavy thoughts out of your head and cleanse yourself at the end of each day. Instead of only focusing on the negatives, make a list of things you’ve accomplished and hope to accomplish. 

4. BREATHE

The shakes, the sweats, and the light-headedness.. We’ve all been there at one time or another. If you find yourself in an immediate panic, focus in on your breathing. First of all, make sure it’s happening. Secondly, breathe in slowly on counts of ten and then hold for a few seconds. Slowly let the air out in a small stream. Closing your eyes while doing this can help find your inner calm. 

5. Eliminate Stress Factors

Of course, most of us can’t quit our jobs (unless we are financially stable or retiring) and dropping out of college (although it may sound appealing) will make getting a job a little harder, but there could be other things in your day that have to go. Negative people in your life? If they aren’t family, try your best to push them away. Unhappy with current location? Try to research new places you’ve always wanted to live or maybe even just a weekend road trip for new surroundings. When it comes to college.. Stay on top of your assignments. Falling behind will increase stress and make it feel impossible.

*I am not a doctor.. These are what has helped me*

Comment below with what has helped you or if you’ve tried any of these techniques!