Post Therapy Thoughts // Recognizing A Narcissist

When I got into therapy on Tuesday, it was a regular session. We discussed smaller triggers I had experienced throughout the two weeks, such as the fight about money with my father and even former hook-ups of mine starting to message me again, and not really being ready for that kind of male attention.

However, it wasn’t until I began to discuss a certain person in my life (who I am choosing not to name due to sensitivity) that the real discussion started. We’ll call her Sally. I had been in several fights with this person over the last month, and for me – it’s always difficult to handle.

I needed space, and Sally just hasn’t been able to respect that. Calling and texting me every single day, I would grow more and more anxious and angry at even the thought of picking up the phone. Writing a new blog post on money anxiety, Sally texted me with her opinion of what she read, and it was borderline emotionally abusive – according to my therapist. I was shamed for even having money troubles to begin with. Rather than seeing how much vulnerability it took to write the post, she focused on tearing me down. The relationship can be described as my therapist states,

“They pull you in with charm, only to slap you then kiss you.”

This is a narcissist.

Whether it’s a friend, partner, or even family member, narcissists can have a serious, negative impact on everyday life and relationships. We tend not to see narcissists in our lives until confronted with the cold, hard facts about their personalities. Sometimes, we are just too close to see, but once you do – it all becomes very clear. You stop feeling the shame and guilt, and start seeing that this is their problem, not yours.

After the session, my therapist emailed me a handout that helped me to better understand narcissistic behavior, and validated my experience all these years. The information below is loosely based off that handout by Elisabeth Caetano.


They’re likable, at first glance. 

Narcissists tend to be well versed in first impressions, coming across as personable and charismatic. In the beginning, all you see is the positive, but over the long term more and more negativity seeps through.

They always manage to make it about themselves.

While they engage initially, they always eventually turn the conversation around to talk about themselves, their accomplishments and achievements and typically don’t ask about you and your life or interests.

Not all stories are victorious ones. 

Narcissists often tell stories about themselves – sometimes even repeating the same story over and over again – and many times, the story will be surrounding an instance of personal heroism or an exploit. But, even when the story is something negative, it will never be the narcissist’s fault. There’s an air of entitlement in the victory story and victimization in the failure.

The key is seeing through the facade, as they never take responsibility for anything negative.

Appearance is everything. 

While they aren’t necessarily more attractive than other people, they do take care of their appearance and place an importance on looking good. This doesn’t just apply to physical, the emotional has to seem perfect all the time as well.

Making sure everyone knows how hard they work, how much they make money-wise, how much they have, and how deserving they are of it is essential.

They are hyper sensitive to criticism.

Fragility of the ego is paramount in narcissistic behavior. They simply cannot be wrong, or responsible, therefore – you cannot give them even constructive criticism without it turning into an argument.

With no ability to see themselves as less than, or flawed, they are almost delusional in their “truth” of who they are. It’s not your fault if you can’t help them see.

They love to make excuses. 

Tending to externalize blame, pinning the blame on everyone but themselves, narcissists are skilled at making excuses and not taking credit for mistakes.

They even tend to get extremely defensive and then go on the attack – sometimes in an aggressive manner – to prove it’s not their fault. This usually involves tearing others down to make their “point.”

They do not honor boundaries. 

This one I have experienced all too well. While this is more of an informational post helping others to understand when a narcissist might be in their lives – I still think back to my own situation. I have someone very close to me who fits the bill in most of these traits. While I love her, it’s incredibly hard to handle. She has always been problematic with this specific behavior.

Narcissists do not honor boundaries because they simply don’t believe it applies to them. That’s where the sense of entitlement comes back into play. Healthy emotional boundaries are essential for any relationship – especially for people suffering with mental illness. To disrespect that is toxic, inconsiderate, and potentially dangerous for another person.

It’s likely they have no clue they are a narcissist. 

With no real insight or ability to see themselves at that level, it’s likely they will never understand how their behavior effects the people around them.

Because they feel so superior and may even have some success, they’re unlikely to seek treatment. In itself, this issue is a double whammy because the things they see in themselves prevent them from seeing they have real problems that need to be dealt with.

Flattery maintains the peace.

Have you found yourself resorting to flattery to maintain the peace in a relationship? You’re dealing with a narcissist. While it’s the best way to avoid conflict, it can cause you to doubt yourself – your feelings, perceptions.


Did any of these situations above feel all too real? If so, it might be time to make some changes. If you don’t feel emotionally safe with someone, cut the cord.

While it can feel like being in a relationship with a narcissist is necessary for survival, your mental health is worth more.

It’s a long process to recover yourself after being in any type of relationship, but it can be done. You can rebuild your life, emotional health, and come back from being lost in the toxic world of a narcissist.


Have you dealt with a narcissist in your life? Share your story in the comments below. 

Mystery Blogger Award Nomination!

These past few days, I haven’t posted much. Sadly, I’ve been sick this week and needed some time to rest. It’s such an important lesson, putting ourselves first. It’s one I’m still learning, to be honest.

However, a ray of light was cast upon this annoying week of sore throats and stuffy noses – I was nominated for The Mystery Blogger Award! Being part of this blogging community in mental health means so, so much to me and I could not be more thrilled to be among the fantastic bloggers who have received this nomination.




Wondering what this award is? Started by Okoto Enigma on her wonderful blog, it’s an award “for amazing bloggers with ingenious posts. Their blog not only captivates; it inspires and motivates. They are one of the best out there, and they deserve every recognition they get. This award is also for bloggers who find fun and inspiration in blogging; and they do it with so much love and passion.”

I’m so incredibly grateful to Addison over at Embrace Authenticity for nominating me! A recovering perfectionist, she has gracefully learned to accept and embrace her brokenness and encourages others to do the same. I love reading her blog, you should all go check her writing out.

Okay, let’s get down to business. To defeat the huns. I’m sorry, it’s a 90’s reflex, I just have to sing it. But, for real – here are the rules of this award:

  • Name the creator of the award and link their blog.
  • Place the award logo or image within your blog post.
  • Thank the person who nominated you and link their blog in your post.
  • Tell your readers 3 things about yourself.
  • Answer your nominator’s questions.
  • Nominate 10-20 people.
  • Ask your nominees 5 original questions of your choice.
  • Share 5 links to your best blog posts.
  • Notify each of your nominees by commenting on their blog.


Three things about myself: 

  • I own every single season of Friends on DVD, and I’ve seen every episode more than five times. It’s a bit of an obsession. 
  • I love my dog more than probably anyone else in this world. He’s a 10 year old Chow mix named Gus – he’s my entire life. Love you, dude. 
  • Throughout my year and a half in therapy, anger has always been something I struggle with. It’s the hardest emotion for me to fully understand, and let myself feel. I’m a work in progress. 


Here are my answers to Embrace Authenticity’s questions: 

  1. What do you identify as your greatest accomplishment? I won’t lie, this is weird. I’m usually the one asking the questions. I would have to say that my greatest accomplishment in life – so far – has been making the decision to start therapy. Without it, I would be lost. I made a lot of excuses about it in the beginning, but I knew it was time. If I didn’t bring this healing into my life, I never would have the experiences that have happened since. Yes, there has been heartache, but it has taught me that I’m much more equipped to handle triggering events.
  2. What fear are you hoping to tackle? I’m hoping to tackle my difficulty with anger. Growing up, I always had an issue with being mad – it was considered wrong to feel that emotion. Therapy has really helped me to understand the why, but now it’s all about pushing past those behaviors I’ve learned and realizing that it’s okay to be angry.
  3. What’s your favorite type of beer/wine? Honestly, I’m not much of a drinker these days, but I would say my favorite kind of beer would be Mother Earth’s Cali Creamin’. It’s like drinking candy, seriously. 
  4. If your personality were an animal, what would it be? Oh man, this is a fun one. I’ve actually thought about this before, and I think it’s pretty obvious (to the people who know me) that I would be a dog. I’m always so excited and passionate about everything, and I’m stoked to see people – whether it’s family or friends. Dogs are better than people anyways. 
  5. What are the main passions/interests that show through in your blogs and why? My blog is specifically rooted in issues surrounding mental health and anxiety. I decided to write a blog about this because it was time. It was time for me to speak out and be vulnerable about my own path. Writing and sharing has always helped me to heal, and now it’s starting to help others heal. It’s my true purpose to help others see that they aren’t alone in their mental illness – we are all works in progress. 


Now the fun part – here are my five questions for my nominees:

  1. Where is your safe space/ happy place? 
  2. What is your favorite book, and why?
  3. What emotion is hardest for you to handle? 
  4. Tell me one thing that you love about yourself.
  5. What is your favorite kind of tea (or coffee)? 

Are you ready? Here are my nominees:


And lastly, links to my five best blog posts, or so I have deemed the best:


I’m truly honored to be part of this community online and couldn’t be more excited for what’s to come. Thank you again to Embrace Authenticity and I can’t wait to see the posts from my nominees!



Works in Progress // Veronica

Silently suffering with OCD, depression, and anxiety since she was nine years old, Veronica didn’t think getting help happened until you were really at rock bottom.

Exposure and Response Prevention therapy on a weekly basis combined with her website, Story of the Mind, where she shares her own story, as well as others, has taught her a newfound perspective that she’s not a bad person, she just has OCD.



Name: Veronica

Age: 20

Explain the origin of your mental health issues i.e., what is your mental health issue, how did you realize what was happening, how was it affecting your everyday life at the time?

I have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, anxiety and depression. To be honest, my OCD started when I was about nine, however it quieted down until I was about 15. My anxiety levels also really started to rise during this time. At first, I didn’t realize what I was experiencing was OCD, as it doesn’t comprise of the stereotypical handwashing or repetitive behaviors. It seems to be heavily obsession based with mental rituals. It all centers around me being bad and doing bad things. I didn’t realize that what I had was OCD until I was 19 – I just thought that I was a bad, horrible person. In addition to the OCD, I struggle with panic attacks, being anxious in social situations and also general anxiety about pretty much whatever my brain can freak out about.

With the OCD, I believed that I was truly the worst person in existence. I believed I deserved to be dead for the horrible intrusive thoughts and obsessions that I was having. The more I reacted, the more I became distressed over what was happening in my head the worse it got. My OCD compulsions are a series of mental rituals and phrases – on the outside no one would even know (despite my often distressed appearance) that I have OCD. I used this as justification that proved I was a monster, I didn’t have OCD – I really was the most terrible person in existence.  I really wish I knew that my parents thought I had OCD when I was younger, I think that really would have helped.

The thing is my OCD obsessions are the worst things I can imagine a person doing. They are so ego-dystonic ie. not in line with my beliefs and morals that they have had such an impact on my self worth and value as a human being. Anyone who knows me would say that I try to always be kind to everyone – no matter who they are – and would never want to even be mean, let alone commit an awful crime, or do something bad. This is what gave them so much power over me. 

In 2015, I moved overseas by myself and my OCD sky rocketed. Every waking moment was filled with obsessions. I would be lucky to have 20 minutes cumulatively in a day when they weren’t screaming in my head for a whole year. I still hadn’t figured out that it was OCD at this stage. I was depressed and suicidal. I was having more panic attacks than one can count, but that worked in a funny way. I would keep incredibly busy and purposely do things that made me anxious, like flying and traveling alone. I would be so anxious about the situation I was in, I wasn’t quite so focused on the obsessions. But even still, I look back on my photos from that year and could tell you exactly what my brain was saying at that point in time, it was graphic and terrifying.

Then began the obsessive exercise and eating minute amounts of food. I wreaked havoc on my body to try and quiet my mind. I lost my period for over a year, my heart became slow, I lost my hair and I was dizzy and sick. I set all these rules for myself and was constantly thinking about how many calories I had eaten or burnt or when I could allow myself to eat next. I swapped one obsession with another (I know it’s slightly different – I mean that it occupied so much brain space fixated on food I was focusing so much on the intrusive thoughts). When I started to eat again and cut back on the exercise, then another harmful tool of self punishment took its place. I would hurt myself in almost a compulsive way, trying to prove to myself that I didn’t like these thoughts, that if I hurt myself then I wasn’t a monster. 

Right now, my OCD is not as bad as it has ever been but it’s still quite severe, there’s now just other things going on as well. Some days my brain won’t shut up but occasionally I can get a bit of quiet from them. It still has quite a hold on me, but at least now I’m starting to get proper help. It’s been a slow road and probably something that will never fully go away, but a bit less would be quite nice. This year I’ve been hospitalized, tried my third lot of medication and had to reduce much of my course load at university (something that my high achieving type A personality is still trying to accept). I’m now doing Exposure and Response Prevention therapy – the leading psychological treatment for OCD weekly and trying all of the things to get better. I’m not going to lie, ERP is hard. You have to expose yourself to your biggest fears and face them without resorting to anxiety reducing compulsive behaviors or mental acts. But it will work, I’m sure of that. I am learning that I am not a bad person, I just have OCD. 

What was the resounding moment when you decided to get help? What made you do it?

It took me a few years from thinking about speaking to someone to finally doing it. I am writing this because I wish that I had done it sooner and not let myself get to the point I have been recently. Maybe this was inevitable, but I really just want to let you know that even if you think it’s not that bad, or that others have it worse, or that you don’t deserve help until you reach crisis point, please understand that you do, and the sooner you are supported, the better. 

How does it affect your everyday life now? Challenges? What skills have you learned to cope?

To be honest, things are starting to improve only the last month or so and quite slowly. Getting on the right medication has been instrumental in this as well as seeing a Psychologist and Psychiatrist weekly. One thing which has definitely had a positive effect on my ability to cope is actually just talking to people about it and not bottling it all up inside. It is so important to reach out and talk to someone when you need help – whether that is in person or through a helpline. It has actually saved my life a few times for sure.

How has living with this mental illness benefited your life? What has it given you? 

I think that it has probably made me more aware of what is happening to other people around me and helping me to empathize with others having a hard time. To be honest, it is just a little part of me, which has significantly affected me and I don’t know what I would be like without it. It has given me the opportunity to speak to others on my website who are doing amazing things and to be able to connect with others.

What is one piece of advice you would give yourself when you were struggling the most with your mental illness? 

Just go and talk to a professional. It took me years of thinking about it to actually get it done. I want people to know that it is quite ok to ask for help and it doesn’t need to be a big secret. I think it’s important that young people know that you don’t need to wait until it gets really bad and completely unbearable to get help, if there is something that is bothering you then it’s worth talking to someone about it.

I know that a lot of people, I used to include myself in this, often think getting help means that you aren’t excelling at life. But honestly it means the opposite. It means that you are committed to helping yourself get better and that requires some serious dedication and bravery. You don’t have to do this all alone.



Are you a work in progress? Share your story in the comments below and you may be featured on the blog! 

3 Tips on Coping With Money Anxiety

Today, I had a triggering conversation about money. In some shape or form, we’ve all been there. Money and financial struggles is a tender topic to talk about, but it’s one that can easily affect our mental health.

Let me just start this off by saying that I have a stable job that allows me to live in a studio all my own, and have my emotional support animal – I realize how fortunate I am. There are plenty of people suffering devastating financial struggles all over the world.

Earlier today, I spoke with my father about how I don’t have enough right now to pay for a certain bill, and he got upset with me. Thinking like the rational lawyer that he is, he was completely right. I did need to pay it now, but I just didn’t have the money available. It turned into a projection from his bad day, but in the end I was left feeling like a failure. I linked my own self worth with how much was in my bank account.

Adulting is really hard – sometimes, we just don’t get it right the first, second, or even fifteenth try and that’s okay. Whether you’re rollin’ in it or stressing over getting gas each week, your self worth doesn’t have a price tag attached to it. You are always good enough – regardless of how much you make financially. 

I am not perfect by any means, but here are some tips I’ve learned that can help ease money anxiety:

Banish the shame 

How you’ve handled money in the past, or even currently, can lead to a mountain of shame. Whether it’s a lack of money, incorrect budgeting, or simply being unaware of the right practices (I’m still this person, believe me), stop with the shame and realize you are doing the best you can with what you have.

There’s no shame in wanting to be better with money, so don’t feel awkward if you have to bring up the subject with a therapist, partner, friend, or even a family member.

Cut out the comparison 

This is a biggie. In my past relationship, this is all I did. My ex did pretty well for himself – much better than I did – and I gave myself some anxiety about that. It’s usually an awkward subject when a partner makes more money than you do, but it doesn’t have to be. Eventually, I realized that I should be proud of him for working hard and doing well financially. While there were moments I felt guilt or embarrassment, I did not need to link my self worth to how much I made compared to him.

Our social media is filled with pictures of people’s trips, cars, and other expensive things. No matter what your friend posts, comparing yourself and your own finances to others will only trigger you.

Here are some things to remember next time you feel the urge to compare money-wise:

  • You don’t know what’s in their bank account. While a friend may seem to enjoy plenty of nice things, it could be supplied by credit cards and debt. 


  • Usually, you don’t see the hard work and sacrifice that goes along with financial success – just the spending. 


  • Your friends’ journeys are not yours – your experiences are unique. 


  • Like I previously stated in my post on comparison, people tend to post only the best version of themselves on social media, so our perception is skewed. 


  • The only person you can change is yourself. Instead of ruminating over the success of others, focus on what you can do to better control your thoughts or make your situation more manageable. 


Educate yourself 

If you find yourself getting high anxiety over your money problems, take control by learning more about it. By turning your unknowns into knowns, you can silence some of the voices telling you you’re not good enough, or not prepared enough, or doing enough with your situation.

Whether that looks like talking to a financial advisor, signing up for a local course in financial management and budgeting, or asking someone for advice who understands your specific situation, you can take matters into your own hands. Once you begin to learn, money stops being a trigger and morphs into something you’re able to understand and control.

No amount of money puts a price on your self worth. If you’re struggling with money or financial problems, learning how to calm those fears and anxiety is a matter of education, understanding, and action – rather than reaction. Rich or poor, you are always good enough. 


Do you have anxiety about finances? What tools do you use to cope? 

Works in Progress // Hannah

Battling depression, anxiety and chronic illness, Hannah didn’t reach out for help until she was in her darkest place. Realizing the big impact of little things like a simple text from a close friend or focusing on a craft, this bold, brave soul has found the right tools for her own healing.

With a combination of faith, kindness, and a realization that we aren’t actually alone in our suffering, read Hannah’s full story below.



Name: Hannah Kassebaum  

Age: 21


Explain the origin of your mental health issues i.e., what is your mental health issue, how did you realize what was happening, how was it affecting your everyday life at the time?

I have battled a difficult and strenuous battle with depression. Anxiety now depletes me most days because of a chronic illness, but depression has been a constant since age 12.  Nine years of my life. I think I always knew I had a disposition to be more of the depressed type. I am just more of a melancholy, pessimistic, glass-half-empty person. Just as I was more of a stressed out, anxious person. But, I think I realized I struggled with depression when I was 16 or 17.

I knew I was sad frequently when I was younger, but I didn’t have a term to accurately describe it. Besides being an overly emotional pre-pubescent preteen. It got bad when I was 16 or 17. I was suicidal. I contemplated in great detail killing myself. I would “punish” myself by writing horrible things about myself all over my body, beating my body on objects (mostly my head), and trying to pass out by holding my breath. I never cut so I think I brushed off my depression because it didn’t come out in that specific way like many people my age. I was depressed in the most high functioning way, it didn’t deter me from taking care of myself or cause me to be unmotivated. It just wrecked my mind. It was paired with self-hatred and was a dangerous cocktail of mental distress. It affected me then in how I allowed myself to be treated. In how I treated myself. I felt worthless and disregarded myself as trash, I collected abusive boyfriends like it was a hobby as a means to punish myself for merely existing. I did this for years.


What was the resounding moment when you decided to get help? What made you do it?

 I didn’t ask for help for years. Actually, until this year. I figured living in a state of mental illness, self-hatred, depression and contemplating suicide was going to be my normal and I would live life that way. It wasn’t until it got bad this year to where I couldn’t function. To where I didn’t want to function. To the point where I wasn’t eating or showering or doing anything besides getting up twice out of bed once to use the bathroom and grab a snack just in case and the other time to turn on the TV.

It was the first time I was entirely knocked flat on my face by depression. It was coupled with guilt and self-hatred and this suffocating feeling of worthlessness. Like my existence was a burden. I sought help because I had this moment where I knew “I could have something else. I could have something better.” But I also sought help because I became a part of the body positivity community, where I saw strong women who would talk about their mental illness along with eating disorders and body dysmorphia and a million other things. It gave me hope. Like maybe I could talk about it and try to move forward, too.


How does it affect your everyday life now? Challenges? What skills have you learned to cope? 

Depression is still something I battle. I think I will always battle it, but the difference is it won’t win. It’s not that I am happy constantly. In fact, most days I am anxious and overwhelmed, but what I gained was this ability. This ability to sense when an episode was coming on. Just before I lost my ability to feel human and function and go about life, I could sense it. And I have learned to take that brief moment to remove myself from the situation and seek peace from what could happen. I learned that going outside and forcing myself to be around my best friends sometimes saved my mind. That sometimes sending a text with a small phrase “I am falling apart, help” to a close trusted friend could ease my mind. Sometimes it was calling my mom and vocalizing my struggle. Sometimes it was doing a craft, something to put my mind at ease and focus on. But mostly, it’s been my religious beliefs that I’ve turned to in times where I feel as though I am on the brink of falling apart.



How has living with this mental illness benefited your life? What has it given you?  

Mental illness has taught me to be compassionate. To be selfless. Which seems odd, but my own depression and mental illness struggles have taught me that there is more than just me who has to coexist with depression, OCD, PTSD, anxiety, on and on. I am not the only one. This is both a comfort that in times where I feel most alone, there are thousands of people feeling the same exact way. But it is also a reality check to step outside of myself. To know that on the days where I am close to an episode and forcing myself out of the house or my mind, those are the days where a stranger smiling at me with my disheveled appearance or the kind words of a friend are life changing.

It taught me how to be kind. How to smile at strangers and speak lovingly to my friends at all times. Because that’s the thing about mental illness: most often it’s not apparent. The longer I am alive, the more I have discovered how so many people I know walk through everyday with depression, but also a smile on their face. And it has taught me that just because someone seems put together or happy or whatever doesn’t mean that it’s true or that they don’t need kindness just as I do. 


What is one piece of advice you would give yourself when you were struggling the most with your mental illness?  

This is a toughie. I don’t know if it’s advice per se, but I would’ve told myself this:

This feeling that you feel so deep, it’s depression. It’s not your enemy. It’s not what defines you. You are not broken because of mental illness. You are not changed because of it either. It exists. As do you. And learning to understand this, that your depression doesn’t equal brokenness and that falling apart is fine will be something that could very well save you.



Are you a work in progress? Share your story in the comments below and you could be featured on the blog! 

You Are Enough // How To Combat Comparison

You know the drill. It’s inching towards 1am on a Wednesday night and you can’t get to sleep, so you open up your Instagram and start the scroll. Ah, the endless scroll through unlimited posts. It’s here that our anxiety pops up and thinks, look at all these people having fun, or getting engaged, married, having kids. Why am I not on that same path? Or why don’t I look that beautiful? 

Comparison is a curse. Unforgiving and overflowing with doubt and insecurity, our mental health feeds off of it. Society tells us we have to be on one, certain path. Whether it’s men or women: date, fall in love, get married, have kids and die. 

But, what is that’s not everyone’s path? Does that mean you aren’t succeeding? Absolutely not. Comparing cars, houses, jobs, money, and relationships is destructive to your own growth.

How do we stop this toxic cycle? Here are a few tips I’ve picked up along the way:


Stop with the social media 

Comparing starts on social media. While you might have begun your social escape liking photos of puppies or pins, you usually always end up seeing something that triggers comparison.

Whether it’s a friend humble bragging about her new business, engagement, or pregnancy, that ping of jealousy and panic sets in immediately. How is she so successful and I’m not? What is she doing that I can’t? And ultimately:

I’m not good enough. 

When you’re feeling insecure on social media, remember that people normally don’t post about the bad parts of life. On Instagram and Facebook, we are never seeing the whole story. Yes, mental health bloggers tend to open up and show both sides of emotion on social media, but this is not the case with most. So, instead of putting your complete self-worth into the post of someone else’s, remember that you’re only seeing the most polished pieces.

Someone’s success is not your failure

Don’t play that comparison game. Not everyone’s path looks the same, so it’s essential to remember that your friend from high school getting engaged, or your sister getting that promotion does not mean your opportunity or future success has been taken away – your time will come. 

Whenever I feel comparison brewing, I refer to this wonderful quote:


Your day will still come around, so instead of giving into those feelings of jealousy and spite, feel happy for them.


Compare yourself to yourself 

Instead of comparing yourself to others, create the habit of comparing yourself to yourself. Focus on how much you’ve grown, what you have achieved and what progress you have made towards your goals.

When we shift our attention within, it creates gratitude, appreciation, and kindness towards yourself. Give yourself some props – what you’ve gone through matters.

Remind yourself of what you have 

With endless vacation photos to Thailand, and perfectly Pinterest wedding photography, it can start to seem like everyone is doing something with their lives but you.

I’ve found the best way to combat comparison is to take a moment and write down have you do have. What you’re proud of accomplishing. Use your energy to focus on what you’ve built for your own life, it will force that comparing to fade.


At the end of the day, we don’t need to be accepted by others – we must accept ourselves. 

The only way to climb out of the hole of comparison is to direct our attention within. When we are happy with our own accomplishments, those feelings of comparison won’t emerge.

So, it’s like the band Jimmy Eat World says,

“Live right now, just be yourself. It doesn’t matter if it’s good enough for someone else.”




How do you combat comparison? Share your comments below! 

Works in Progress // Connor

Suffering silently through his depression, it was when a teacher noticed his pain that he decided it was time to ask for help. 

With a firm belief in making your mess your message, Connor is on a mission to show others the hidden blessings in a life with mental illness. 

Meet Connor. 



Name: Connor

Age: 22

Explain the origin of your mental health issues i.e., what is your mental health issue, how did you realize what was happening, how was it affecting your everyday life at the time?

I first realized my mental health was more than just a teenage phase after experiencing two grueling years of a severely deflated state. I initially thought it was all down to the transition period of school to college because it made me feel like a small fish in a big pond and I lost contact with many school friends. The people I did still talk to didn’t share the same thoughts and feelings as me, so I resorted to Google and discovered countless articles about depression, anxiety etc, but I was in disbelief.

I didn’t want to accept that this was what was wrong with me because I’d seen depressed people in TV shows and films, but I wasn’t like them. I brushed it all off but over time my situation got worse. I began skipping lessons to avoid being around people and this quickly turned into skipping entire days of college so I could stay at home where it was safe, easy and comfortable. I could play games and escape the world and even myself. My social life was non-existent, horrendous diet, no motivation for anything and a constant feeling of self loathing and sorrow.

What was the resounding moment when you decided to get help? What made you do it?

The first person to actually notice something wasn’t quite right with me was my product design teacher. She had obviously noticed my lack of attendance in the lessons and my coursework was barely scrapping the barrels. I was asked to stay behind one lesson to have a quick chat, which instantly sent me into a state of panic. After a while of listening to me explain and justify myself she said, “Have you ever thought that you were depressed?”

In an instant, it dawned on me that maybe I actually was depressed. I was recommended to see a counsellor on site at college and I did because I was starting to worry about my exam results and how they would affect my future. After a couple of weeks of this counsellor I got a sudden urge to help myself further and receive help from my local doctor too.

How does it affect your everyday life now? Challenges? What skills have you learned to cope?

Currently, I am in a far better place than I have been for the six years of my battle. My journey has made me realize how strong I actually am and despite mental health knocking me down, I’m always able to get back up; even if it takes me weeks or months to recover from a set-back. My OCD in particular is still as persistent as before, but I’m now able to keep on top of the emotional aftermath and not let things spiral out of control as often. I now think of my problems as challenges that are there to test me and make me grow, which really makes the whole situation less daunting because the only outcomes from these challenges is that I either win or I learn.

Whenever I get these negative thoughts or emotions, I try and use them to my advantage by using the energy as fuel and converting it into something positive which then often times allows me to push further, due to the added incentive/reason. The main skills I’ve been able to learn from all this is being mindful, which in my opinion really has been a game changer and has given me moments of clarity which is hard to come by with all the usual mental fog. Ultimately the best thing I do to cope is give myself plenty of TLC and treat myself as my own best friend – rather than my worst enemy.

How has living with this mental illness benefited your life? What has it given you? 

I believe in making your mess your message and I’m constantly trying to make the most out of the bad situations. I think of my mental health conditions as a blessing disguised as a curse – on the surface it creates pain and suffering, but there’s always a deeper meaning and learning opportunity to grow from. I always tell myself that I’ve been given this life because I’m strong enough to live it and with this attitude it gives me a positive approach to any obstacle that life throws at me. Although I’m not necessarily proud of my problems, I am proud of the person I have become from all this. I’ve gained a stronger level of compassion and empathy as well as a genuine desire to help support and love others who are in need. Overall, I would say mental health has given me an opportunity to express myself fully and create something beautiful out of what others would see as a tragic end.

What is one piece of advice you would give yourself when you were struggling the most with your mental illness? 

The advice I would give myself would be; ‘You’ve come too far to give up now.’ Life has thrown some tough situations your way but you’re still here, you survived it all and you’ll continue to overcome anything else in your path.

Instead of questioning ‘why me?’ you should be saying ‘try me’ because you are stronger than you think and capable of whatever you put your mind to. When you finally beat your mental health, you’ll become an incredible person that could only have been sculpted by the life you’ve lived. You still have a lot to learn, but keep thinking long term because it will all be worth it. You’ve got this.



Are you a work in progress? Share your story in the comments below and you may be featured on the blog! 



4 Tips on Removing Toxic People From Your Life

One of the first things my therapist taught me was this:

Erica, you’re an adult. You do not have to do anything that makes you uncomfortable or anxious, regardless of the circumstances. 

While this has been a harder one to learn, this lesson has stuck with me over the year and a half I’ve been seeing my therapist. Whether it’s a relationship or a friendship, toxic people are like a thorn in the side of our already challenging mental health.

Toxic people force you to get stuck in the past and focus on the negative. They are selfish, and normally not able to fully see our mental illnesses, the issues that you suffer from every day. For years, I put up with friends like this, friends who only focused on themselves and played the victim when called out on their behavior. Blame placing, projection, passive aggressiveness. Then, after a really triggering argument with someone I thought was a close friend, I paused and asked myself:

Why am I giving so much of my time and energy to fix a relationship that is broken to begin with?

Why am I sitting here doing 90% of the compromising? Bending over backwards to please, and for what? So I don’t have to have a confrontation? My anxiety fears these forms of arguments with friends because it digs into my own self worth, and the need to be liked. I found it was when I pushed past that fear that I came to this realization – I don’t need these people in my life. 

I don’t need people in my life who refuse to understand my anxiety. I don’t need people around who attack and project their own anxieties onto me, and aren’t able to own up to it. I don’t need inauthentic friends who shy away from being real with me. What’s the point? It took a few emotional breakups to teach myself that saying goodbye to one thing can sometimes open the door to self preservation, growth, and a deeper understanding of our worth.

Here are a few tips on cutting toxic people out of your life, once and for all:

Establish & maintain boundaries 

The more you try to please them, the more you drain your mind, energy, and spirit. Compromise after compromise will just leave you exhausted – it’s time to set some healthy boundaries.

Now, there are circumstances where you can’t completely remove a person from your life, or with the help of boundaries, the person can remain.

Give some serious thought to what you will tolerate and what you won’t, whether it’s from partners, family members, coworkers, or friends. When your instinct tells you something’s not right in your interactions with someone, refer back to your already established mental boundary checklist and enforce it.

Reduce their power over you

Part of removing toxic people is understanding projection – recognizing that they’re not actually seeing you when they hurt you.

As an extremely sensitive person who has a great deal of emotion, I used to let most of my toxic friends control my entire mood. The truth is, it’s likely they are projecting onto you the parts of themselves they aren’t so stoked on accepting. See their immature behavior for what it is – weak. 

Once you start to see this, it won’t be so difficult to move on.

Pick your battles

This is a big one. I’m still learning this one every day. In the past, I would charge into every argument guns blazing – big or small. More recently, I’ve learned when to stick up for myself and when to let it go. Sometimes, saying no is a positive thing. It’s okay to protect your emotions and walk away. 

Know it’s not your job to save them

As a people pleaser, I’ve had trouble accepting this. Toxic people are really great at showing up in times of need, or in a crisis. For example, I had a friend who would come to me for anything and everything from advice to a shoulder to cry on, but when I called her out on her toxic behavior, I suddenly did nothing for her and only talked about myself, which just wasn’t true.

Not only is this blame placing, it’s problematic. Solving their problems is not our responsibility, it’s their own. Even in my own breakup recently, I’ve come to this realization. It’s not my job to save him from the issues he is facing, it’s his.

A wonderful quote that I actually heard on my drive to work recently, listening to one of my favorite podcasts, Last Podcast on the Left, said:

“Mental health is not your fault, but it is your responsibility.”

While I never judge or blame someone for having mental health issues – I clearly have my own – I do consider them responsible with managing it. If they’re not able to do that, or at least trying, I have to remove myself. 


Distancing yourself from toxic people seems like a no-brainer, but it’s really not. It’s taken years for me to come to this conclusion, but I’m so glad I’ve seen the light because once you cut off these friends or partners who do nothing but trigger you, you make room for all the people who deserve to be in your life. The people who respect you and take joy in watching your growth, and vice versa. The people you can be completely raw around – mental illness and all.

Surround yourself with healthy, like minded people – you deserve it. 




Have you had to remove toxic people from your life? Share your story in the comments below. 


Works in Progress // Danika

With a diagnosis of BPD, depression, anxiety and complex trauma, Danika has been through her darkest time.

It was with medication and cognitive behavioral therapy that she started to see the light – however, she wasn’t fully healed. A conversation with a friend mentioning BPD brought answers and led her on the right path to healing.

Preaching a message that it’s okay to struggle, read how Danika’s journey taught her to search for kindness and patience within.



Name: Danika Alice Ransome 

Age: 25 

Explain the origin of your mental health issues i.e., what is your mental health issue, how did you realize what was happening, how was it affecting your everyday life at the time?

My diagnosis’ are borderline personality disorder, depression, anxiety and complex trauma. 

I realized in my teenage years that the feelings and moods I was experiencing – and had been experiencing from such a young age – had to be more than just teenage hormones. I just knew that I felt differently from the people I was surrounded by and I felt incredibly lonely. It affected my relationships with just about everyone so as a result of that I became even more lonely. 

It was affecting my desires for life, I pretty much took no pleasure in the things that I used to enjoy and I felt incredibly numb, empty and angry.

What was the resounding moment when you decided to get help? What made you do it?

I started having seizures when I was 16 years old, so I went to the doctors and whilst investigating the seizures, my doctor began to ask me about my mental health. That’s when I opened up about how I had been feeling and at that time, I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression and my seizures were diagnosed as non epileptic attack disorder, also known as psychogenic seizures. 

I was prescribed medication and put on a waiting list for cognitive behavioral therapy. I had regular check ups with GP in relation to my mental health along side the CBT, my GP was lovely and I couldn’t fault her, but I still continued to feel exactly how I had in the beginning. At this point, I still didn’t know how to even begin to describe it or explain it fully. 

Years passed and I was talking to a friend about mental illness. She brought up Borderline Personality Disorder – something I had actually never heard of! It was like she was describing exactly how I had felt my entire life. 

I didn’t want to just assume that’s what I had, so I went to a doctor, which was really hard. I was finally able to describe my moods and behaviors properly and not too long after, I was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder. 

How does it affect your everyday life now? Challenges? What skills have you learned to cope?

My day to day is unpredictable along with my moods. I am in recovery, but it’s not linear and I still face bad days and the challenges that come with it. 

Recovery is a full time job. It’s a massive challenge to put everything I learn in therapy into practice for my every day life and sometimes it’s just too much. I don’t feel like I can do it, but one skill I have learned is to be kind and patient with myself, as I would be with another human being. 

I’ve found that allowing that kindness and patience is taking away a lot of the pressures I put on myself, along with the feelings of guilt and shame.

How has living with this mental illness benefited your life? What has it given you? 

Living with mental illness is not glamorous, it’s debilitating, it’s hard work, it’s full time. 

I will say that it’s definitely given me insight into other people, I’m very intuitive and understanding. I’ve gained knowledge and a kindness and compassion within me that I think is very rare.  

What is one piece of advice you would give yourself when you were struggling the most with your mental illness? 

It’s okay to struggle. Not every day will be a good day and while I’ve encountered bad days – I am super proud of myself for holding on. 




Are you a work in progress? Share your story below and you may be featured on the blog! 

Automatic Negative Thoughts // The Power of Journaling

Since I was making up stories as a kindergartner, writing has always been my outlet. When I started therapy, my therapist began to realize just how essential it was to my life, and how it could be not only a form of expression, but emotional. Cathartic.

She suggested I buy a small journal just for my ANTs, which are Automatic Negative Thoughts.  These thoughts are cynical, irrational and come through our brains all by themselves. We experience them every minute of every day of our lives, and for the first time in a long while, I was taught how to combat them head on. Writing in this journal made me realize just how important thoughts are. They can either help or hurt you. If the irrational ones are left unnoticed, they can start to affect relationships, work, and your entire life. First, we need to notice them. If we catch them the moment they occur, we chip away at their power.


When a negative thought goes unchallenged, your mind believes it and your body reacts to it. 


For example, if I would walk into work, sit down, and my boss wouldn’t say good morning, my brain automatically thinks, she’s angry with me, or I’ve done something wrong. These are negative thoughts that need to be confronted with reality. Whenever thoughts like these would cross my mind, I would stop and write it in my ANT journal – didn’t matter where I was. I literally brought it everywhere. First date, out with friends, a concert – you name it. 


Here’s an example of the ANT form:


Step 1: Event – Write out the event that is associated with your thoughts and feelings. 

Step 2: ANT – Write out the Automatic Negative Thought.

A few examples of typical ANTs are: 

“You never listen to me.” 

“You don’t like me.”

“This situation isn’t going to work out. I know something bad will happen.”

“This is stupid.”

“He doesn’t want to talk to me.”

“I should have done better. I’m a failure.”


Step 3: Species – Identify the type of irrational thought.

Here are the different labels for ANTs: 

“Always or never” thinking: thinking in words like always, never, no one, every one, every time, everything

Focusing on the negative: only seeing the bad in a situation

Fortune telling: predicting the worst possible outcome in a situation

Mind reading: believing that you know what another person is thinking, even though they haven’t told you

Thinking with your feelings: believing negative feelings without ever questioning them

Guilt beatings: thinking in words like “should, must, ought or have to”

Labeling: attaching a negative label to yourself or to someone else

Personalization: innocuous events are taken to have personal meaning

Blame: blaming someone else for your own problems


Step 4: Kill the ANT – Talk back to the irrational thoughts. 


Now, here’s an example of a real-life ANT being written down and corrected. This is one from my very own ANT journal:



How you think moment by moment matters. It plays a large role in how you feel, behave, and the way in which your life turns out. Negative thoughts can cause you to feel internal discomfort or pain, leading you to behave in ways that alienate others. Hopeful thoughts can influence positive behaviors and lead people to feel good about themselves and be more productive in the day to day.

Listen, I’m not saying that we should just snap our fingers and wash away all the negative thoughts because that’s just unrealistic. I’m saying that these automatic negative thoughts are completely irrational. The ones that seep into our minds and convince us we are failures, pathetic, and that everything is our fault – that no one wants us around, everyone thinks we are too much. Do they though? Is that reality? Nope, it’s not. It’s time to fight against that for a stronger way of thinking.

Honestly, at first I thought writing these thoughts down was a little dumb. I didn’t think it was helping me but a year and a half later – I don’t even need to write it down anymore to correct my thoughts, and that’s exactly what my therapist intended. Since I’ve written it down time after time, whenever I have one of these thoughts, I do these four steps in my head in a matter of seconds. It takes a lot of practice to get to that level, but it’s so worth it.

Whenever I noticed an ANT entering my mind, I trained myself to recognize it and write it down. When we write down our negative thoughts and talk back to them, we start to take away their power and gain control over our mood. Kill the ANT by feeding our emotional anteater. 

Whenever we need to be in control of our mind – times when we’re feeling anxious, depressed or frazzled – it’s essential to turn to something that works. I allowed these negative thoughts to control every mood I had, every friendship I was in, and basically every relationship. It’s time to stop giving these thoughts any more power. Don’t believe everything you hear, even in your own mind. 




Do you use the ANT journaling method? How does it work for you?