My Therapist Left

We tend to forget that therapists, counsellors, and psychiatrists are humans just like us. They have families and responsibilities outside their jobs. They have bills to pay, children to watch, and relationships to foster just like the rest of us. We see them as guides through really tough times in our life. Sometimes, they’re the only voice that can speak to us while we’re drowning. It’s natural that they seem almost untouchable; above our everyday problems. Still, they have them. Sometimes, you might find yourself in my boat: my therapist left.

Clearly, I don’t have any photos with my therapist…. but, this is right around the time that I started seeing her in 2016! Lipstick is killing it. Mental health? Not so much.

The best thing in the world is meeting and working with someone that you click with. The therapist that I’ve had for the last few years has been that. Where others have been quick to prescribe meds, she knew that I always wanted to try another route first. She knew that I was unbelievably analytical, so self-diagnosis was a serious problem if I let myself go too long without seeing her. Lastly, she knew that I was stubborn. I would go to my dying day saying that I was fine. If I had to handle school, work, and stress while dealing with a severe mental illness, I would without help. But, I would do so until I absolutely broke down. 

The Realities of Having a Therapist

Finding the right therapist can be difficult. It’s like a blind date. You’re not really sure how you’re going to click with this person. However, you’re expected to unload a lot of intimate thoughts onto them. I’ve definitely done an intake with someone who I totally did not click with and requested a new therapist.

Sometimes, the therapist you’ve heard amazing things about isn’t taking new clients. You have to wait for a referral from someone that’s higher up the food chain. In the hospitals, where these therapists are more accessible and insurance carriers are more likely to cover it, the faster therapists fill up. Can we all just agree that we need more mental health resources at LOWER COSTS?!

Once you find someone that clicks, you kind of cling to them like a weird stuffed animal. You get attached pretty fast. They become part of your family, but like an objective part that will tell you that you’re being irrational. You know? It’s all part of the realities of having a therapist and being a client. 

My Therapist Left

Another harsh reality is that your therapist might move! As I said before, these people are human beings with families, lives, and responsibilities that exist outside of their offices. In my experience, therapists that have moved practices or from one state to another have done so with ample notice to their patients. Obviously, I’ve been blessed with finding a great couple of providers, but I’ve never called to make an appointment to find out they’ve vanished. Usually, when they leave, they’ll refer you to another therapist that they think will work for you. You get the final say, of course. They give you time to see them and make those arrangements.

All of that being said, however, doesn’t make that loss any easier. Being understanding about the fact that my therapist had children and a life outside, doesn’t invalidate that that is a loss in my life! A therapist is someone that you share intimate thoughts and traumas with and you are allowed to feel a sense of loss – they know that which is why they try to make the transition as easy as possible!

Truthfully, it’s not something that is a “typical” occurrence by any means. You’re more likely to move to a new place or need to switch providers far before you’d ever deal with a therapist moving, but it does happen. When it does, we need to know that it’s okay to feel that loss, feel it all, and reach out for help during that transition.

The Takeaway

Here’s me without a therapist! A LOT of healing has happened since the first photo. As with any human, I still have more to heal, more to work on, and growth to make in this life of mine! Therapy ROCKS because we make it rock, not just because of our therapists…. even if they rock too 😉

Most recently, I called my nurse practitioner about some more guidance in choosing who to schedule my next appointment with. Something that I thought was totally in my own hands was made very comfortable by having a professional walk me through my file and talk to me about therapy I preferred! A quick telephone call can save you hours of scouring the Internet looking for a name to jump out at you, when you might not really know what you’re looking for! There’s NOTHING wrong with asking for help in times of these weird transitions – in fact, everyone involved wants you to! 

So yes, my therapist left a couple months ago. She absolutely rocked. I’m going to miss meeting with her. The relationship that I had with her was so beneficial for me in some of the darkest times of my life. At the end of the day, I’m allowed to miss her! But, I know that there’s therapists that are smart, able, and willing to accompany me in my mental health journey just as she was all those years ago!

If you’re having trouble finding a therapist, getting yourself involved, or just want to talk about other options/my experience with therapy, PLEASE get in my DMs below! I want to chat!

Setting Boundaries for Online Sharing

My favorite self-help queen, Rachel Hollis, is in what she calls a “difficult season” right now. She’s gracious enough to share these little glimpses of her life as it drastically changes. She’s allowing her followers and readers to see a little bit of her pain through her emails, podcasts, and posts. However, as someone who’s felt pain so deep that you feel hollow, I know that she’s only allowing us a glimpse. She’s set a healthy boundary on what the world is allowed to see into her private, personal life.

For a long time, I’ve broadcasted pain, hurt, and embarrassment online. I’ve told the Internet how much I weigh and that one of my family members called me fat. One time, I told my podcast that I wanted to kill myself for about 75% of my Junior Year or high school. I’ve given you my prescriptions. My stomach sank as I let the world know that my boyfriend was cheating on me. I’ve told you all about my migraines that make me feel like an alien. Still, I walk around with next to zero regret for any of the things that I’ve shared online.

As a blogger, it’s difficult to separate what I should share and what I should keep to myself. In one frame of mind, the more that I’m vulnerable with you, the more you might feel empowered, safe, and strong. On the other, though, where do we draw the line between vulnerability and tearing your heart out?

Here’s Rachel’s argument on setting boundaries:

In her podcast, “Seven Things that Are Helping Me Through This Dark Season,” Rachel talks about how people are really quick to judge what, how, or when we’re willing to share our grievances. For her, they’re expecting another New York Times Best Seller when all she wants time away from her life. In my case, I think I’m expected to put everything I’ve been through online. As if not blogging about it makes it less of my truth; my story.

As Rachel says in the podcast (which I think you should go listen to even if you’re not going through a dark season), no one gets to tell you how to mourn. No one gets to tell you how to handle the things that pop up in your life. Even the therapists that we pay the big bucks don’t instruct us how to deal with our problems. Rather, they help us wade through chaos or mixes of emotions we can’t quite get through on our own.

Truth be told, even as a blogger, there are things in my life that you don’t know about me. I’m a pretty open book, but there are struggles in my life that are no longer relevant to the journey, uplevel, or message I want to spread now! Does that make them any less a part of my story? No. Does someone telling me I don’t have a story make me want to tell them? Still, no.

At the end of the day, when you close all the apps, shut your laptop, and actually power down, you have to be proud of that person laying there. Setting boundaries is one of the healthiest things you can do in any relationship or friendship. It can also be so successful for feeling good about what you’re putting out into the world via social media. Setting boundaries allows you to advocate for yourself. When people try to tear down that wall, a clear boundary is the highest, strongest, fortress you can arm yourself with. 

Having trouble with setting boundaries with your online sharing? Want to learn the benefit of setting boundaries? Get in contact with me using any of my socials below – I would love to hear from you!

Finding the Silver Lining

In both my podcast and my blog, I’ve talked about how quarantine has seriously changed everyone’s way of life. Whether your senior year came to an end, you were laid off, or you try to find normal at work every shift – it’s weird! With people continuing to get sick and no vaccine available quite yet, we’re probably going to be living in this weird uncertainty for a bit longer.

The best way that I’ve heard this period described was similar to “mourning.” We mourn the loss of hugging our friends when we see them after a while. We mourn the loss of being able to walk around Target at the drop of a hat. We mourn the loss of being able to even get our nails done. Some of us have even had to mourn the loss of our loved one’s lives due to the terrible illness. It’s a time of mourning a life as we knew it, and attempting to make this our new normal.

Separate from religion, I believe in energy. Things happen for a reason and lessons presenting themselves when we need them most. I have faith in the Universe. I know that even in the worst moments there can be a silver lining with which we grow. No, I don’t believe that Coronavirus is God’s wrath sent down to punish the sinners. If that makes you stop reading this blog, I’m sorry for the disappointment. But, I do believe that something is to be learned from the worst moments that Coronavirus has presented in front of us. Whether or not it was fair for us to learn them, we were ready to learn them, or we even needed them at the time, there might be a bright side to this dark time.

The silver lining

I’ve more saved now, then I ever would have. I know that some people can’t say the same thing. However, not having the ability to go to bars, nail salons, and malls has been a huge blessing to my bank account. It’s also made me realize that some of my coping mechanisms include spending money rather than dealing with a problem.

I haven’t been adding to our fossil fuel problem. I seriously drive my car twice a week. Again, I know that I am speaking for myself here. However, at the height of quarantine, I had no need to go anywhere. “Getting out of the house” was just taking a long walk – something I’m embarrassed to say that I haven’t done in a while. In the nicest way possible, there isn’t anywhere to go, so I don’t go anywhere.

This is a big one. My dogs are really happy I’m home. I’m not a cat person, so cats might be a different story. My dogs, however, are in literal Heaven having their humans constantly at home with them. My little Nala is an anxious wreck sometimes (just like her mom) but seems to be thriving. As the weather has gotten nicer, the dogs spend more time outside sunbathing and occasionally chasing a rabbit or two. You can tell they’re just happy to have more cuddles when they’re ready to go to bed at night.

Most importantly, I’ve been able to find peace with myself. Before all of this happened, I was going. I was trying to run a blog and a podcast while working full-time to make rent. Before the restaurants shut down, I was working, eating, and sleeping. The only other thing that I had time for was an occasional night of drinking with my friends. Needless to say, though, my lifestyle was not healthy or sustainable for someone who was trying to be successful. Though I was pushing content and getting to work, the burnout was absolutely on the horizon. The resentment for the life that I was living was coming – I could feel it.

The takeaway

Even if it was through bad circumstances, COVID19 forced me to take a breath. It forced me to take a break from the routine that I had fallen into. I had to question whether or not I was okay with it. It made me find peace with parts of my life I loved. At the same time, I was pushed to change the parts that I didn’t.

No, I may not say that I’m glad that it’s happening. Far from it, actually. However, that I can see the silver lining that washed up after all the waves of bad news. At the end of the day, I can say that I will survive. I can say that I am stronger because of Coronavirus.

Have you seen the silver lining in your life in this time of uncertainty? If so, what is it? Are you having a hard time finding it? If so, let’s talk about it! Start a convo with with me with any of my socials below!

How To Handle the Haters

I told myself that I wasn’t going to write a blog about accepting internet hate until I had a full-on, blatant troll. I get a lot of passive comments from people who don’t really understand the complexities of mental health. My political posts are subject to debates at times. For the most part, though, people have been super supportive of me and my journey to blog for a living.

Recently, an internet troll got  upset when I used #thickwhitegirl on one of my body positivity posts. Of all things that I could do to upset someone online, it was a hashtag. Who knew?

At first, I was a little taken aback by the comments. What does a comment like “girl, you ain’t thick,” mean? Anyone with working eyeballs can see that the post was not made to accentuate a tiny waist or thin legs. It was about accepting compliments because you always deserve them.  You shouldn’t set standards of perfection for yourself before you allow yourself to feel a little hype.

I warned the user that my page is one exclusively for love. While it’s not part of my protocol to censor what others say, they were walking a thin line between speaking their mind and triggering those that support me. So many people came to comment lovely messages about my beauty, confidence, and content. There were people that I knew and those that I did not. Followers that I had previously interacted with and ones that I gained from the experience.

Body shaming isn’t fucking cool no matter who you are, what you look like, or what you think your credentials are. I’ve been down the whole fatphobic hater train before. In my experience, it’s usually something along the lines of how I’m glorifying obesity or unhealthy lifestyles. Let me make one thing abundantly clear here: being overweight isn’t healthy. When I post my pictures, I hope that what you take from it is body positivity, confidence, and a sense of acceptance. However, my health is something that I speak to my doctor about, rather than the trolls online. I’m not glorifying unhealthy lifestyles or obesity by saying that it is okay to find beauty in figures other than hourglass. Rather, I’m saying that if you want to get healthy, give a shit about your organs, or find motivation to work out, the first step is loving the skin you are currently in. 

I’ve gotten in my fair share of Facebook fights circa 2013. A healthier mindset (and maybe a few therapy sessions) will teach you that the best way to respond to hate online is just to ignore it. It’s so hard. However, bullies thrive on the reactions of their victims. If there’s no reaction, they usually end up feeling stupid. You can also channel the queen of all queens, Michelle Obama.

“When they go low, we go high”

– Michelle Obama,

It’s easy to start spitting fire back. You have every ability in the world to choose confrontation in these moments. The people that we look up to, though, are the ones that can kill them with kindness even when they’re being ruthless.

Haters are always a triggering experience. They say stuff that we say in our heads when we’re having a bad day. They say it online for everyone to see. This user told me to lose 200 pounds. One, doing that would bring my weight to about that of a second grader… Two, those words aren’t just bullets shot at me. They shower down on anyone that comes across that post. That’s why I have such a problem here.

Anyone that came across the comments of that post ran the risk of being extremely anxious about their body image. It doesn’t take a diagnosed illness to see someone spewing hatred and reflect it into our own lives. However, those who struggle with body dysmorphia or eating disorders were especially at risk.

Internet trolls and real-life haters have a way of projecting their own insecurities onto others. In this case, that user probably saw that I had confidence in the photo and lacked their own. People place their discomfort in themselves through anger, sadness, aggression, and hatred. While social media is a beautiful thing because it allows people like me to spread messages like this, the other side of the coin is that it can offer anonymity to people who would never say these hurtful things to your face.

At the end of the day, I’ve been called much worse than fat, disgusting, or unhealthy. It’s not my business how those who don’t support me or my blog feel about me. None of us should take the precious time out of our days to worry about what internet trolls have to say about our bodies. Truthfully, it’s none of our business. The only business that is ours and that we have to attend to is our supporters. Those relationships are ones of value. They will continue to help us grow and thrive. Where is a hater getting you? After the whole ordeal, my friend, Max, reminded me that, “if you have haters you must be doing something right.”

If you’ve exhausted all options, my sweet, don’t be afraid to hit that block button just like I did!  You don’t need that negativity in your life. Haters gonna hate, but that doesn’t mean we have to see it.

Are you dealing with online hate? Have you in the past? Let’s talk about it! Slide into the DMs on any of my social media profiles below – I’d love to hear your story!

Edited by Vanessa Reza. Contact info can be found on the “Work With Me” page!

A Look Into a Depressive Episode

For the most part, I’m okay. I haven’t always been able to say that. I mean, for most of my formative years I would grumble, “I’m fine.” Everyone around me knew that was a lie, but I thought I was pulling it off decently. It wasn’t until I  found myself in writing that I felt comfortable sharing that maybe I wasn’t okay. At that time, I needed help and I needed it fast.

I wrote a blog at the beginning of Mental Health Awareness Month about the guilt associated with my  happiness as a vocal advocate for the mental health community. In that blog, I talked about how I have mostly considered myself to be in the recovery part of my mental health journey. The bad days don’t come as often as they used to. When they do, I’m usually equipped to handle them in a healthy way.

You already KNOW that I’m all about habits and habit tracking. I make my bed everyday and try to keep my environment clean….unless I’m in a depressive episode.

That doesn’t, however, mean that I’m cured. I absolutely love to hear success stories of patients who struggle for a bit, go through some intense therapy, and move on with their life leaving depression in the past. I absolutely believe it’s possible. Everyone’s mental health looks so different. What might need temporary help for one person might require lifelong care for another.

Personally, I feel great. I feel healthier and happier than I ever have. The group of friends that I have are ones that I would call my “forever friends.” The things that I’m doing and planning right now are setting me up for my life, rather than just for next month or next year. I’m genuinely recovering. However, I still have my depression and I still take medication.

Like every human on the face of the Earth, I have bad days. Like every person who’s ever gone through a treatment or recovery, I have moments of weakness. You put being a human together with the natural rollercoaster that is “getting better” and VIOLA! You’ve got some perfect storms brewing!

My depressive episodes are nothing like what they were at 16. Even though I occasionally get sassy with my family (Sorry, guys), they’re mostly full of tears and isolation. Here’s an example: During a depressive episode, I won’t change my clothes for  3 days. I’ll sit and cry over seemingly small things, do everything in my power to stay in my bed, and lash out when someone tries to motivate me. Then, I’ll start feeling bad for not working out, showing up for the business, or blowing my friends off and I’ll cry some more. I eat as many carbs as I can find, which I subsequently will beat myself up for later. All of this is separated by about 4 two-hour naps throughout the day to aid my emotional exhaustion.

The aftermath of a few days of depressive episode. Honestly, this is pretty tame compared to other times. I removed the Taco Bell wrappers pre-photoshoot 😉

I don’t want you to pity me. I want you to look at this situation for what it is: reality. To be honest, my episodes are pretty mild compared to those who suffer from bipolar disorder or those who haven’t had any sort of mental health treatment. Episodes look different on everyone, but I can promise with 100% certainty that they’re never glorious

I’m lucky. My family and friends are loving enough for me to approach and explain how I’m feeling to them. We openly talk about mental health a lot. But, being able to explicitly say, “I’m not okay and need some time,” is never easy! If you’re years into this battle or just starting off, speaking the fact that you’re having a little bit of a breakdown into verbal existence can be extremely difficult. But, it can also lead to much easier communication down the road. You don’t owe anyone an in-depth look at your psyche, but simply saying that you need time and space is neither selfish nor rude.

I’ve been hesitant to share my breakdowns on social media. I’m supposed to be a mental health blogger and aspiring coach. In my head, that means I’m supposed to have this knowledge that makes me valuable to you. You know what, though? I have breakdowns. I have moments of weakness when I cry over getting the wrong taco (seriously, that happened). I have times when there’s total chaos and I’m not as centered in my life as I would want to be. But, above all, I am human.

Reading this, right now, so are you. You are a human being with feelings, emotions, weaknesses, strengths, blood, guts, and boogers all making up this beautiful thing that is you. You get to have moments of tears  where you don’t need to flex your muscles. Because you are human, you are bound to have moments when life hits a little too hard. It could be a depressive episode, an anxiety attack, a breakdown, or just a big bitch fit. Guess what? It is OKAY.

We’re not going to stay in that space, though. We’re not going to waste time letting life beat us up. We’ll let out a few cuss words or tears and get back up. Got it? It’s not about what the episode looks like. It’s about how you recover from it. Because yeah, I might have cried over a taco, but you’re damn sure I got Taco Bell right after that.

How has your mental health been? Are you flying high, experiencing a little bit of an episode, or chilling somewhere in the middle? Connect with me on any of my social media accounts below. I want to hear your story!

Edited by Vanessa Reza. Contact information can be found on the “Work With Me” page.

Don’t Worry, Be Happy

My brother and I were pondering what could be the most contradictory message that I could sharenon my blog. Maybe something like “You Shouldn’t Talk About Your Mental Health,” where I advocate for everyone keeping their traps shut. There are already many people in this world who spend their time writing articles with titles such as “Depression is a Choice,” so I think we have that base covered. Then I started to realize, I should probably write that contradictory blog. I should probably address all the people that scroll through my website and roll their eyes. 

No, I’m not going to sit here and side with you. First off, it would piss off quite a few people who trust me to write with an open mind and heart when approaching something as delicate as our mental states. Secondly, I wholeheartedly disagree. Every single blog that I write has a goal  of connecting to your inner self, your mental health, and your mind. If you don’t believe that some people might face some problems in that department then maybe this blog will change your mind. Seeing the world as more than just a binary  of “happy” and “sad” will seriously change your life. 

My parents knew almost nothing about depression when I first started my high school cry for help. They didn’t say they were clueless. They definitely didn’t know what to do or where to start when it came to addressing a situation that was unraveling before their eyes. Like most in their generation, they were raised to rub some dirt on it, wipe away tears, and get back up again. For all intents and purposes, this isn’t a terrible mindset to have. I mean, these are the men and women who have fought a couple of wars and whose parents survived the Great Depression. Was there really another way?

Generally speaking, in their generation, problems were dealt with in the home. Even then, no one really had the resources, technology, or knowledge about mental health to advocate for it or understand it like we do now. We constantly say that more and more people have mental illnesses now, but what if people just weren’t willing to be anything other than “normal?”

All that being said, my parents are definitely outliers amongst their peers. When others didn’t really understand or support my confusing disdain for everything around me, my dad was driving the mental health support train with my mom blowing the whistle. I’m blessed. People often applaud me for being open about my mental health journey, but they never think to applaud my parents for taking the leap with me. Being so vocal about my experiences has meant putting some really vulnerable moments online that people don’t always understand, especially when they think that I just wake up every day and choose to have depression or anxiety.

Yes, I did have pink hair & no, I don’t regret it.

I was probably 19 when I first had someone ask why I couldn’t just be happy. The look on their face was a mix of judgement and genuine curiosity. I’ve gotten the whole “I would NEVER take medicine,” thing too many times to count. I still tease my mom about saying “I think you should just get some exercise and you’d feel way better,” when she started to notice my mood shift downward. 

If there was any possible way that I could wake up, press a button, and decide my diagnoses wouldn’t  bother me that day, I would do so in a heartbeat. I’m going to take a leap of faith in saying that literally every single person that has a mental illness would do the same thing. I absolutely don’t blame people for not feeling like medicine is their thing. It’s not my thing either! But damn, you don’t wanna hang out with this homegirl without  her meds because it’s what WORKS FOR ME! Also, I would love to just sweat/eat right/meditate/sleep/work all of it out, but that’s not how it works. 

Mental illness is exactly that: mental. You can’t see my social anxiety from across the room at the doctor’s office, but it’s very much there and it’s very much real! That classic Bob Marley song that I conveniently used as the title for this blog also used to piss me off when I was younger because I was worrying all the time which in turn made me the exact opposite of happy. You know the one. I get it. It’s a song. It’s supposed to make you feel good. But, just because you haven’t felt mental illness in your mind or coursing through your body doesn’t make the experience less real for someone else. 

I haven’t personally broken my leg, but I understand that it would probably hurt. I don’t need to feel my bone break to believe in that kind of pain or suffering. More importantly, I trust the opinion of doctors that study and treat those people in the best way that they know how. Does a psychologist need to put someone’s head in a cast to have the world believe that you can’t just wake up and be healed? Maybe I’m comparing  apples and oranges, but if someone asked why you can’t just choose to start running on your broken leg you wouldn’t know where to start. If they shamed you for taking ibuprofen because when THEY broke their leg THEY didn’t have to, how would you feel? If they told you to just get some more sleep and it would go away, what would you say?

So yeah, don’t worry and be happy, my friends. But know, that there’s a time and place where you or the people around you can’t easily fit into the mold that is “happy.” Understanding each other is the first step in advocacy for mental illness. Even if you’re lucky enough to not have a first hand experience with mental illness, knowledge in the fact that there’s not just two camps of “happy” and “sad” can go a long way in how we love and treat one another.

Even if this blog still seems like some sort of persuasive essay and you still haven’t been convinced, I hope you’ll take a look at resources like National Alliance on Mental Illness who can say all this stuff more technically and less based on personal experience. Moral of the blog: I hope you never ever question why someone’s “choosing” to be sad. I hope you tell your kids, grandma, dog, lizard, succulent, and any other life form that will listen that happiness isn’t a choice. It’s something that you work at. Some of us just need a little support in that department.

Here at EmyD you’ll see an ongoing narrative that if you’re trying your best, no one can ask anything else of you. That goes for happiness too. If you’re trying your best to get up, show up, and just survive, in whatever that looks like right now, I’m proud of you!

Have you ever felt misunderstood or misrepresented in your mental state? Even after explanations, examples, and tears? You are not alone! Connect with me on any of the social below – I want to hear your story!

Edited by Vanessa Reza. Contact info can be found on the ‘Contact Me’ page.

I Was Scared of Working Out

I gained an exceptional amount of weight in a short amount of time. I packed on about 60 pounds in three years. It doesn’t sound like a ton when you’re reading it, but it felt like a hell of a lot when I was looking in the mirror.

This is the part of the blog when everyone gets excited because I’m about to uncover the magic recipe to how I lost 60+ pounds quickly and easily. It’s the blog where I tell you how you can unlock the secret too.

A day when I was celebrating two of my favorite people getting married and I look back and I remember how scared I was to take care of myself. I remember how sad I was behind that smile.

SIKE. This is  the blog where I get unbelievably vulnerable about the “rock bottom” of my relationship with weight. It’s about the photos that I would  cry over, because I had no idea where to start. I hated every single part of my body which in turn made me hate myself as a whole. In the perfect story, this would be the part where I went to the gym everyday, only ate things that were green, and lost all that weight and then some. Honestly, though, I was terrified of working out.

I would say I am decently athletic. I’m no marathon runner, but I could swim some damn laps. I wasn’t necessarily a star, but if I put my mind to it I would at least be better than average.

When I looked in the mirror and saw inches in places that I had never seen, I couldn’t even imagine myself back in the pool. Do people get back in the pool when they’ve retired from their high school swimming career? Where do ‘fat’ people go to buy workout clothes? My Nike shorts were so tight at this point that there was no possible way that I would be seen at my local YMCA. So, seriously, where do you start? At that point, I couldn’t even get in touch with the bones holding me together. I felt gigantic. All I wanted to feel was tiny.

At that point in my life, I needed to work out to lose weight. I didn’t care about my health – mental, emotional, or otherwise. Working out because I loved myself wasn’t something I would learn for a long, long time.

When I started to rationalize that paying $15.00 for an Uber was better than walking 3 blocks to the bars, I realized I had a problem. It wasn’t because I had heels on… When I gained a bunch of weight, I didn’t like wearing heels anymore. It definitely wasn’t because I was too drunk. Nope, I just got all sweaty walking a relatively small distance.

So, I had to start at home. I had to do something in the privacy of my own home that I could sweat unbelievably hard and quit after just 10 minutes. (If you’re looking for a workout that you can do at your own pace but that gets you GOING check out TheFitnessMarshall) I started following women who were in the same place that I was in. They validated me, knowing that I wasn’t able to do everything I previously was able to, but they also inspired me to work hard.

Slowly, I started to feel like I could do more. I made it to the YMCA and worked out in front of people for the first time. I felt totally out of my element and I was extremely aware of the amount of sweat falling from my face onto the machines. I loved looking up those body transformations on Instagram and dreaming about what it must be like.

I started to see actual changes; little toned up muscles here and there. I started to dance a little longer at Latin Night without feeling like I was actually going to die. The accounts that I followed started to multiply and turn into body positive ones.

A big part of fixing my fear of working out in public was fixing my mind. It was convincing myself that people weren’t watching every step that I was taking on the elliptical. I healed emotional wounds that led me to a bunch of binge eating fits. I reformed my inner dialogue after many sessions of therapy.

It wasn’t easy. I tried to take the easy way out with pills or crash diets just to see a different number on the scale and avoid facing that fear.  I still have days when I have to work incredibly hard on my positive inner dialogue when I look in the mirror. There are still days when I avoid my workout at all costs because I still can’t do two hours like I could when I was 15.

But now, working out is something I get up and plan. It’s something that I want to do. Now I am an ambassador for FNXFit – a role where I can prove that supplements and gear aren’t limited to one type of person. I am an example that any body type can benefit from fitness. I am a member of a gym that I love (even if I’ve had to get really creative while staying home).

I’m still carrying a lot more weight than I want to be carrying, but I’m not scared of the starting point. I don’t have to hate my body anymore. I am not terrified of the workout. In fact, there’s even times I crave it.

You can also get involved with FNXFit by trying out any of their amazing supplements or gear. I’m not kidding when I say it made me feel like a total beast & made me actually want to workout! My current favorite is Recharge preworkout in Blackberry Lemonade. You can use my code “emyd” at checkout for an additional 15% off your entire purchase!

What is your relationship with working out look like? Are you having trouble getting into the gym? Contact me on any of my socials below to tell me your story!

Edited by Vanessa Reza. Contact info can be found on the ‘Contact Me’ page!

Is it Okay to be Okay in May?

May is my month!. It’s my birthday month. It’s also when I would get a break from college, and it’s usually when the weather starts getting warmer in Wisconsin. More importantly, May is Mental Health Awareness Month aka a time when I want all of you to bend a knee because I have a healthy relationship with antidepressants and you all should be made aware.

Okay I’m kidding, but a part of me does want to throw some confetti for all of my brothers and sisters who also deal with the daily ups and downs of mental health.

I’ve already beat it into your head that we’re not waiting for a new day, week, or month to start celebrating the little things. But, sometimes we need that little life sign to jump, ya know? I feel moved to write this and something compelled you to read it. There’s your sign. If you’re not celebrating your mental health for EXACTLY what it is, this is your sign.

Nala, this is not what it looks like…. but look, I’m always cute in May! It’s my month! (18 years old)

Let me explain. Just like I have friends in all shapes and sizes, I have loved ones at all different points of the mental health spectrum. I have friends  who don’t always approve of talking about mental health all the way to friends who write, sing, or podcast about it just like I do. I have family that have gone through similar diagnoses or experiences, and friends who have never even imagined going to therapy. This is a month to celebrate you, your mind, and your mental health.

More importantly, it’s a month all about understanding that no one mental health is identical to another. It’s about awareness – which is so damn cool if you think about it. It means that if you say you’re an ally, no one is expecting you to be an expert. It means that you want to be a part of ending a stigma of the past for people struggling in the present. It means that you want to understand someone other than yourself, which is so important in this society.

I have been talking about and attempting to understand my mental health for years now. Each year, Mental Health Awareness Month comes around and it means more and more in my journey to recovery. When I was diagnosed, I wasn’t aware that there were others like me. My parents weren’t aware of how they could best support a teenager that was doing all she possibly could to push everyone away.

It took me far too many years and far too many Mental Health Awareness Months to realize that I am not defined by the medicine that I took, the diagnoses that still sit in my Mercy MyChart, or even by the stories I already share about my mental health.

For so long, I told myself that one of the first labels that was important for people to know about me was “depressed” or “anxious”. For so long, it felt like the only thing I could talk about, the only thing that was worth listening to. Maybe I wanted them to know that because I wanted to prove the strength that I found. Or, maybe I still hadn’t found a label that really feels right.

Each day, I can choose a different label. I mean, that’s the beautiful thing about the world, right? You don’t ever have to be the same person you were the day before. I’m a daughter, sister, voter, friend, blogger, college graduate, photographer. Saying that I’m one of those things, or all those things, doesn’t change the fact that I know I’m a warrior.

My 22nd Mental Health Awareness Month & birthday when I’m starting to actually realize that time, acceptance, and great company heals wounds. I felt so good. It’s okay to be okay!

I mean, what about when I’m doing really well? Do I still have to talk about depression when the bad days aren’t very often? Do I still have to blog about panic attacks when I haven’t had one for months? Talking about that part of my life is important, especially during months when we aim to spread awareness. The beautiful thing about Mental Health Awareness Month is you get to see people in all aspects of their journey – the confusion, the pain, the anger, the loneliness, the acceptance, and even the recovery. So, a big part of my mental health journey now is understanding that I don’t have to keep validating myself as a warrior. I wear my armor everyday.

Are you feeling okay during May? Or, are you feeling like your mental health might need some extra love? Contact me at any of my socials below – I want to hear your story!

Edited by Vanessa Reza. Contact info can be found on the ‘Contact Me’ page!

I Brought Home a Puppy to be my Emotional Support

Let’s make sure that my words mean more than my actions for this one. If you all start coming home with a bunch of 8 week old puppies at the ripe young age of 19, your parents are going to have a biiiiiig problem with you reading EmyD Blog. I also can’t be a hypocrite, though, because that’s exactly what I did. 

I’ve talked a lot about my depression. 2014, 2016, and maybe even 2018 are definitely competing for the title “Worst Year of my Life.” I followed all of those Daily Dose of Puppy accounts on Instagram. My family has a dog, Cooper, who is a sweet baby. But, I couldn’t get the thought out of my head that if I had my own dog, my depression couldn’t possibly continue.

Let’s keep in mind that I was 19 years old. Although I was working to keep myself alive, my parents also had a hand in that process. I was living at their house after my panic disorder made me want to start commuting. So,they’d have to be okay with a new, furry roomie. My dad was not having it. If you know me, you know that eventually I convinced him, but there’s still a running joke that he’s not quite okay with the dog. 

When Heather, an old classmate, said that her dogs were accidentally having a litter of teddy bear puppies, I couldn’t stop going back to the post. I mean, I couldn’t get a puppy. I was 19 years old. I found myself messaging Heather and asking all about the little babies: when they would be ready for new homes, about their breed, and about Heather’s dogs who had accidentally just had like 8 little polar-bear looking puppies. I started to think it might be a possibility. Heather and her family had a lot of people interested in the puppies – and wanted to find the homes that would love these little babies as much as they already did. I think my slight obsession with one of the little girls was enough proof that I would give her the best life and the best home. 

The hurdle of trying to convince my parents that this would be a good thing was a big one. But, when he met her, I could see my dad was slowly but surely on my side. Her little 3 week old body was tiny, but I was already all in for being her dog mom. 

At 8 weeks old, I brought home alittle white ball of fluff. She was 2 pounds that fit right in my hands. I decided to name her Nala after The Lion King, a Broadway show I would always share with my grandma. I loved my boyfriend, I loved my family, and I loved my friends. Loving Nala, though, was different. It was like this little life depended on me and no matter how many times I fucked up, she would love me just the same. 

I got Nala certified to be an Emotional Support Animal (ESA) so that she could live with us in our college apartment. I had depression and anxiety that I was being treated for. My therapist even thought that an ESA would be beneficial to me. Though I didn’t really understand how much I would need her until my whole world came crashing down around me. 

I hit rock bottom around the time that my 2 year relationship ended. Before that, I was struggling with depression. However, there’s something about begging for someone’s respect, time, and decency that just plummets you into the lowest of the lows. Looking back, I still don’t recognize the person I was at that time. Nala, however, was one of the only things that brought me comfort. The love coming out of that little tiny body was completely objective, undenying, and unending no matter where the demons in my brain had lowered me to that day.

Unlike with humans, your relationship with animals doesn’t need to be fostered. Once you have their trust and love, it’s pretty hard to lose it. In that time, I probably wasn’t the dog mom that she deserved – I wasn’t playing ball in the backyard with her, I wasn’t jumping out of bed to take her on a couple walks a day, and I wasn’t teaching her new things… But, she loved me just the same. I woke up with her at my feet every day. If anything, she depended on me for the basics of living, so I couldn’t get too out of hand.

Many dogs don’t need to learn skills like what to do if their owner is having a panic attack, but Nala knows. If she hears hyperventilating or even quiet sobbing, she’ll sit right in your lap. Nose to your nose, she’ll let her presence be known. 98% of the time I would describe her as a spazz – full of energy that I’ve seen since she was 8 weeks old. When I’m having those panicked moments though, she is so calm and gentle. It’s like she knows that all I need is her presence. 

It all sounds so magical and amazing right now. Nala truly was the best decision that I made. I thank my lucky stars every day that I could a) bring my parents to the dark side with me and b) a Facebook friend having a litter of puppies that included my little baby. That doesn’t change the fact that having an animal is a huge commitment and when you’re struggling mentally, you’re usually not ready to take on that commitment. Nala’s breed is really anxious. When it comes to Nala, my family dog, Cooper, eases her anxiety. As I got my mental health under control, said goodbye to somewhat regular panic attacks, and moved out of the house, I made the tough decision to let Nala stay at home with my parents and brother. 

Honestly, it is something that gives me anxiety. It makes me feel like I failed or like I’m not taking responsibility. Weighing the pros and cons, though, Nala needs the schedule of my parent’s 9 to 5. She needs a big backyard and a house to lounge in, not an apartment surrounded by zero grass in a big city. Nala needs Cooper just like he needs her. So, for the time being, Nala will stay where she’s most comfortable. I will never forget how she got me through the worst moments of my life, purely by being there.

What do YOU use for emotional support? Let me know in my DMs on IG, Twitter, or Facebook (@EmyDBlog) or email me at today! I’d love to hear your story! 

Your Mental Illness Does Not Need a “Cause” to be Valid

I’m annoyed…pissed off even. Usually, that means that I wouldn’t blog and I would just write a really long journal entry and call it a day. But, I’m not happy with how much I’ve been blogging lately, so maybe this will make it a little more real for you all.

I spend a lot of time online. Can’t you tell? I’m trying to start a damn business for God’s sake and it seems like the big way to do that is through social media. For a while, I was following a bunch of people just to get follows back, but also just see what the online community I was getting into was all about. On EmyD especially, though, I’ve been really quick to unfollow people who aren’t aligning with how I feel about mental health, acceptance, and being an ally.

So, that being said, let’s jump right into it. I’ve been reading a lot of posts about people blaming their current mental illness on a family member, ex, or toxic friend. Today, I felt my hands clench when I read that phrase “my ex caused my anxiety”. Or, I recently read “my best friend gave me depression”. I mean, the foundation of your mental illness is for your own analysis… so, maybe that is how you feel. It’s definitely possible that you never felt the symptoms of anxiety, depression, or other mental health problems until some negative person triggered them. But, let’s get something straight here. Mental illnesses are not gifts that you just hand out. It’s not weight that you can just gain and lose as the wind blows. You have anxiety because you have anxiety. Your ex might have put you through some traumatic events that now trigger those attacks – but you have anxiety because your brain chemistry. Believe me, I want to blame my fucking ex for my mental health issues too, but I can’t because he isn’t to blame… my brain is. Your best friend might have made you really sad, said some shit, even bullied the fuck out of you… but she did not give you depression like the common cold. You have depression because your brain is not producing enough serotonin.

It’s really easy to want to blame someone else for your mental health struggles. When you can put a face to it, hate someone for it, and just curse at someone rather than the intangible thing that is the universe, it feels a little bit easier. Sometimes, those people were literally devil’s spawn too. They did everything they could to make your mental health worse. I get it. That dialogue, though, is really dangerous. There is a difference between someone being a trigger/detriment to your mental health and blamed for its creation and continuation.

How can this be dangerous, you ask? Well, its true that some people did get put through some trauma at the hands of family, friends, or other loved ones that led them to mental illness down the line – that’s just a fact. But, for those going through that, it makes it really confusing as to why their illness isn’t getting better even if those people are out of their life. If you have a platform and constantly say that your mental illness falls into the hands of someone else, it encourages everyone else to try and find that as well; rather than holding it close, seeking out help for yourself, and loving yourself through the flaws.

I have had anxiety for literally all of my life. I wasn’t diagnosed with it until I was 16 years old, but I can look back and realize that there were moments during swim or school that I was absolutely going through an anxiety attack. At the moment, I couldn’t put those feelings into words. In those times, mental illness wasn’t as talked about and I was pretty young to be able to see that within me. But, after struggling with it for years, I can recognize moments that I absolutely had anxiety/depression in middle school or early high school. I was diagnosed with panic disorder as well – which is something I grew into as I struggled to internalize my mental illness. I am one of the ones that read those posts and was just defeated.

Clearly, that dialogue pisses me off now, but for a while, it really got to me. I had an amazing childhood. I know that I’m one of the ones that was blessed to never have experienced serious trauma or abuse that I could name as the foundation for my mental illness – so dialogue like that made me feel really invalidated. I wanted to blame someone, anyone. I tried to blame bad friends and my ex for mental health, but none those people caused the chemical imbalances in my brain. Sure, they weren’t beneficial for my recovery, but they didn’t give me this illness. There were even moments when I told my ex he was the reason for my depression/panic disorder. If you’ve kept up with this blog at all you know that he absolutely did not help those things, he did put me through some trauma, but it was completely unfair of me to say that – no matter how shitty of a person he was toward me. In those moments, it gave me an out to not have to deal with my mental illness. As long as I was thinking about him, I could push the blame onto him rather than taking responsibility for not doing all the things I had learned in therapy & not being true to myself.

And this is not me blaming the victim!! This is not me saying if you’re getting the shit kicked out of you that you’re not allowed to feel depressed. No, absolutely not. This is me saying that people on these platforms need to be talking about the wins and losses even after the triggers go away. Validating the entire process – because mental health is just as valid when the triggers are staring you in the face as when you can’t even identify what your triggers are.

For so long, I’ve been on this journey just trying to get people to understand that anxiety and depression is not something I wake up and choose to have. Even more important, we’re all on a journey that no one can replicate, match, or really understand every aspect of. So, if you’re still in the part of your journey where there’s resentment and anger in your heart because you have a mental illness & it’s easier to blame someone – I get that. I totally was there, but it wasn’t a healthy place to be advocating from on a platform. But, we’re in a world in which some people still don’t understand that people can’t just wake up and not feel anxious. Some people don’t understand that I can’t just roll out of bed and not feel depressed – so creating a narrative that mental illness comes and goes as easy as the douchey guys and bitchy girls from your 20s does nothing to validate this community.

Here’s my point: Share your story and normalize mental health always. But, if you’re going to get online and preach about to a lot of followers about positive thinking , keeping it real, and being an ally…. you have to be willing to take hold of mental health by the horns (yours, mine, everyone around you). Be the Hercules, in that situation. There’s no right or wrong way to do this. We’re all fucking up all of the time – I promise.

Biggest thing is that as someone with a mental illness, I have the ability to relate to someone. That experience can either be a positive or a negative one. I control that with what I write online, what I post, and even what I repost. Is my content always positive? No. Do I make mistakes and have areas where I need growth? Of course. But, if someone is going to relate to me because of diagnoses that they share with me, I want it to be because they see someone who’s struggled just as much as they have/are and who’s constantly working to get better. I want them to see someone who doesn’t really have any trauma or abuse to pin my mental illnesses on and felt invalidated for a while, but finally found footing in this community. I want them to relate to me because I am taking my anxiety, depression, and panic disorder in my own hands – as a part of who I am, but not something that defines me. You feel me?

So, watch what your posting. Think of the angry little girls that are reading it and might be getting the wrong idea. Spread love and positivity. Most importantly, be your unapologetic self and the internet (and world) will reward you for it. THAT’S my rant of the day. I feel better.

Thanks for all the love! Comments, questions, concerns? Hit me up on any of my socials @emydblog for Insta, Twitter, and FB. Or, you can email me ( to chat as well – I’d love to connect with you!