The 5 Best Ways to Support Friends with Mental Illness

At a recent therapy session I was asked, “Who do you have in your corner? Who can you count on to always support you?” I was overwhelmed by this question. There’s a lot of names that come to my mind: family, friends, and coworkers. Knowing that having a dedicated support system is something that some in my shoes do not, I was able to easily name people who I know will always be there. The people in my life do quite a bit to be allies in my mental health journey. There are a couple of ways my friends have supported me and my mental illness that I aim to do with all my relationships!

Ways to Support Your Friends with Mental Illness

Everyone’s mental illness and mental health needs are different. First off, this is not a one size fits all. I’m also NOT a mental health professional, doctor, or therapist. There’s nothing about this blog that is medical advice – only sharing what has been a huge benefit in my own life!

Number 1: Communicate!

The darkest part of my mental health journey was accompanied with pushing away those I loved most. I felt like a burden on their happiness because I wasn’t happy. One thing that really benefitted me was my best friends always communicating with me, even when it was really hard. I credit my friend, Taylor, for saving my life because when I stopped communicating she continued asking questions, encouraging me, and reaching out to my parents when things got scary.

It can be really hard to verbalize all the things going on in your mind when you’re struggling. However, knowing that you have someone who won’t hate or judge can be an actual lifesaver.

Number 2: Normalize Conversations about Mental Health!

Half of American adults with major depressive disorder will go without treatment this year. We have a serious lack of mental health resources in this country. Those that we do have tend to be pricey and not realistic for the average American. People also avoid getting treatment because of the stigmas that surround all mental illnesses. Emotional and mental health are just as important as physical health. No one is embarrassed to talk about their broken arm; we have to approach mental illness in the same way!

If one of your friends is having a hard time coping with a diagnosis or difficult mental health period, normalize the convo! Being candid about your own mentality (even if you don’t suffer from mental illness) can open the floor for conversation. Also, when people know that their support system does occasional “mental health checks” they are much more likely to reach out in a time of emergency or serious need!

Number 3: Be Patient!

This blog, or millions of blogs, will not be enough to truly say how lucky I am with my support system. One thing I can never repay is the amount of patience that those around me have given in my rough times. Sometimes, those struggling can be the hardest to love. We’re angry, sad, happy, excited, depressed, numb, and every emotion in between. It’s hard to keep up with it all.

Roomie is a huge supporter of my mental health! Who’s yours?

Friends might flake, drop the ball, and be ugly towards you because of how they feel about themselves. I can confidently say it’s nothing to do with you. One of the hardest things you’ll ever do is continuing to invite, communicate, and encourage someone who is not reciprocating or acknowledging your time. It does, however, make a huge difference to those suffering so DON’T feel like it’s for nothing!

Number 4: Know Your Limits!

All of number 3 being said, you need to know your limits when it comes to other’s mental health and your own. Unless you’re a parent or guardian of a child, you’re never responsible for another human’s well-being. You, my friend, always need to make sure you’re healthy first!

In the past, I’ve had a serious problem with trying to take a lot of others’ mental health problems on my plate in order to avoid my own issues. If being an advocate for another’s mental health is causing you to go to a bad place, PLEASE STOP! You don’t do anyone any good when you’re also hurting.


Again, I’m absolutely not a professional here… but when I say sometimes you need to report, I’ve never been more serious. Having friends who aide in your mental health journey can be a huge advantage, but it’s NOT a fix all. Everyone’s struggle is different. Personally, I’ve needed professional help, medicine, and my loved ones’ support to get through some of the hardest times in my depression and anxiety.

It took my friend “reporting” to really confirm to my parents that I needed professional help. Don’t be afraid to let someone know what’s going on in case of an emergency – it might cause tension at first, but it could save a life!

Thoughts? Story to share? Connect with me on my socials below!

Instead I Live on National Suicide Prevention Day

I know that National Suicide Prevention Day isn’t a national holiday. It’s a day dedicated to the prevention of suicides around the world celebrated on the 10th of September each year. Does the general public know of this day? Absolutely not. To be honest with you, I didn’t even know the exact date until I was approached by a mental health organization on IG. So, as a mental health advocate and blog owner, I didn’t know the day of the year that we show our commitment to preventing suicides for the entire year. Something is wrong with that. So, today, I chose to write about my experience, my story, and my commitment to preventing suicide 365 days a year. *TRIGGER WARNING: Suicide, suicidal thoughts, depression*

I would never have classified myself as someone that was suicidal. Even now, despite sharing a bunch of vulnerable stories online, I’m hesitant to put that out there. Suicide feels too dark and real to put online sometimes. But, like everything I put online, I share because it might make someone else feel a sense of community, belonging, and comfort.

My Story

In my file, you’d find a note from my high school years that reads something like “Displays Suicidal Tendencies.” The things I said were in line with someone who didn’t care whether they were on this earth or not. Goals that I had for the future were nowhere to be found – partially because I couldn’t imagine a future. 

My experience with suicidal thoughts or how to combat them is different than others. It’s not the same as what you see in the movies or even on those videos that they show you in health class. For me, everything just kind of was numb. I didn’t care about grades, friends, or anything that had given me joy. All I had the energy to do was sleep & sleeping forever seemed like a pretty good solution to these problems. 

My story as you’ll find, is not a one size fit all. Some people have trauma that pushes them into depression and suicidal tendencies. Some have depression in their biology that deals them a rough hand of cards from the start. After that, problem solving feels harder and harder every time. There’s some like me, who have an amazing life, an amazing family, and essentially all the right tools to make it, yet still fall into the trap of having dark thoughts. Some people fit none of those descriptions. 

The Realities of Suicide Prevention

Understanding suicide and treating it as a reality in our world is always the first step to combatting it. First, let’s just get this out there: suicide exists. Unlike popular opinion, it’s not just 20-somethings who have been mentally disturbed their whole life. In fact, the highest demographic affected by suicide is middle aged white men, according to the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention. It’s K-12 students who’ve been bullied, gone through trauma, or just dealt with undiagnosed mental illness. Our elderly population is not immune either. Though we have a schema for suicide, understanding that prevention goes far beyond a classroom or social media screen is extremely important. 

I’m not a doctor, a therapist, or even a volunteer for a mental health organization. The credibility I speak from is having gone through my own issues. Thus, I can’t sit here and say all the ways you can combat suicidal thoughts and tendencies. I can, however, talk about how I learned to live when all I wanted to do was die.

MY Suicide Prevention

I was talking very openly about death (a huge warning sign – follow this link for more info) even if I hadn’t begun to develop a plan. It was clear to those that loved me the most that I cared very little about things that happened in my life – good or bad. In fact, I was ready to disconnect from anything that made me feel committed. Speaking very candidly here, I started to imagine what other’s lives would be like without mine. Would they be better off? My anxieties pushed me to think so, but something about that felt wrong. I couldn’t imagine my baby brother talking about the sister he “used” to have. No matter how irritable, angry, or just confusing I had been I was still his big sister. 

I Started Talking

Thank you to HeartSupport for this graphic and the #InsteadILive campaign that inspired this blog!

The first time I said “I’m not okay” outloud was really difficult. I had been getting through the day, going through the motions, and crashing into rock bottom as time went on. When I finally let those words out of my body, it felt like a tidal wave. 

Talking about my depression, anxiety, and dark thoughts has been hugely therapeutic for me. Even now, speaking openly about things that might be uncomfortable has made me feel empowered to be exactly who I am. Speaking about thoughts that I had allowed my family and I to pinpoint some areas of my life that were at an absolute breaking point, even if I didn’t see them as such. When you’re talking about your feelings, you can also get to realizations faster than just keeping it all bottled up.

It was so hard for the people I love to hear me speak about life so apathetically, but it also allowed us all to work towards a healthy solution to the problem.

I Created

Courtesy of HeartSupport and the #InsteadILive campaign

If you guys couldn’t tell, I do have a blog. LOL. No, but I’ve been writing about mental health and those moments of pure mental anguish for a long, long time. Even before they were under the name “EmyD”. I also used song, dance, and art to express thoughts that I literally could not formulate into words. Throwing myself headfirst into hobbies allowed me to give a shit, for lack of a better term. When all else failed, I had something that actually made me feel productive and a bit more human.

Don’t get me wrong. There were days that I was so mentally exhausted I couldn’t get out of bed. The idea of “perking myself up with a painting” would have made me vomit. Let me tell you, though, learning to live for something is a game-changer. I couldn’t put all of that on my brother because it’s not fair, nor does it give me autonomy as a young woman. I had to learn how to love what I could say, do, write, and create all on my own. 

I Advocate

While I still have a mental illness, it’s been a long time since my mind has had a suicidal thought. It’s not because I’ve grown out of it or completely changed. Rather, it’s because I found value in life that I couldn’t see. I learned coping mechanisms for mental illness that only worsened it. Lastly, I learned that saying “I need help” doesn’t make you any less of a badass. 

These days, I still have really bad days. They come much more in frequently now. Between them are many really great days to ward off the darkness. But, I still have bad days. I advocate for people with mental illness and suicidal tendencies because living is the best decision I’ve ever made. 

I advocate now because six years ago, I needed someone else to advocate for me. I commit myself to preventing suicide in any way I possibly can on this National Suicide Prevention Day. Even when it gets dark and scary, I have to remind myself that I can defy the thoughts that want to put me down by saying, “Instead, I live.”

Thank you so much @HeartSupport for creating such an important initiative and constantly advocating for important things. Thank you, Taylor Palmby, for encouraging me to look into the #InsteadILive campaign!

Join the conversation on any of my socials or find valuable resources through HeartSupport!

How A Celebrity Can Change Your Mental Health Journey

I met Demi Lovato in 2014. This is not a story of me magically running into her in the bathroom of my favorite restaurant. I bought tickets to her show. I bought the Meet & Greet package. But, I met her.  A celebrity changed my mental health journey.

** TW: Substance abuse, self harm, suicidal thoughts **

My life was at its absolute worst when I was a Junior in high school. My mental health was undiagnosed and running rampant. I was smart enough to get good grades in school but had become completely apathetic of actually learning or retaining anything. Being civil, I was able to hold it together but I pushed away those closest to me with a sharp tongue. I turned to hurting myself to feel anything at all.

If you’ve never been through this kind of low, it’s really hard to understand. If you’ve never felt the jagged rocks of “rock bottom” in your back as you stared blankly at your bedroom ceiling, this might be hard to wrap your head around. Honestly, I wouldn’t wish this feeling – or lack thereof – on my worst enemy.

My friend, Ross, had already met Demi before. I clung to him that year as one of my only sources of sanity. There was something about his overwhelming obsession with her that I didn’t really understand. Then, I really listened. Instead of staring at my ceiling in my dark bedroom in silence, I did it to the tune of “Skyscraper” coming off of my iPhone. I listened to her pain – something that I could understand. The triumphs in her lyrics faintly reminded me of moments before the depression got so bad. I actually listened to the music.

Ross and I in the second row at my first Demi Lovato concert. I only cried three times!!!

To me, Demi wasn’t a Disney-star-gone-rogue. She was talented and misunderstood. She was forced into a box for so long that she simply couldn’t take anymore – which is exactly how I was starting to feel. As I got diagnosed with new mental illnesses, I felt more and more like a freak show. Suddenly, I went from the blonde, preppy girl who was in everything to the depressed, anxious girl who was constantly absent. I was meant to fit in a box that my undiagnosed mental illness wasn’t allowing me to and the promise of an absolute shit show was looming.

Her honesty about addiction and drug use was something that I found really admirable. Her ability to speak about addiction in young people was something I didn’t even realize was a problem until my college years. By then, I had been following her for so long I saw the red flags a little more clearly. Most of all, I related to her because she wasn’t a Barbie. She was human – flawed, vulnerable, and damaged. Yet, someone that people could look up to. Something that I hoped I could be one day with my mental health.

“Now, I’m a Warrior”

I don’t know if I would have started talking about my mental health if it wasn’t for Demi’s story. More specifically, for the music. I started to pay attention to my drives to school. The actual words on the songs playing out of the speakers in my Chevy Malibu. On the DEMI album, there’s a song called “Warrior” which is my absolute favorite song to this day. So, if you ever need to answer trivia about me, there you go. It truly is about her coming to terms with a story that’s never been made public. That story finally makes her feel like a survivor; a warrior.

Even if I didn’t feel it at that moment, I knew that my mental health was something that I could handle. It was something that would change me forever and it didn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing. I knew that this was just another chapter in the story of my life that I would tell someday to my kids, my friends, or really anyone that would listen. Somewhere inside of me, I felt comfort in the words that Demi sang. Maybe our hardest moments really are there to bring out the warrior within us.

Demi’s influence on love & relationships

Now, six years later, there are still moments where you can see the place I “wear my battle scars” of depression as the song says. My partners have seen me be “ashamed and confused” of the person I was for a long time. 

Demi went through a couple relationships that always looked like love. To me, it gave me hope that someone could love me even if my brain didn’t produce enough serotonin. Demi had breakups, just like me. She sang about them in ways I didn’t think I needed, but I did. She empathized with me in loving someone we no longer had. Ripped my heart out in ballads just aching for them. But, she ultimately reminded me that I didn’t need anyone. I was a baddie just being me. Just like I was still a warrior from all those years ago.

Demi just got engaged. It was kind of like my best friend from kindergarten got engaged. You know the feeling, right? You haven’t seen them in a really long time. They’re not a huge influence on your daily life. But, at one point, they were all you had. In that moment, I was reminded that mental illness, addiction, self harm, and negative body image doesn’t make you less lovable.

The person that I had looked up to as a positive light for all those things had pushed through to find love, but what if she never really pushed through? What if part of our journey to happiness, acceptance, and healing is finding someone who jumps on that mental health rollercoaster with us? What if true love is finding someone to squeeze our hand when our stomach drops? Not make you get off and hold you, but just squeeze your hand. What if true love is someone that will scream at the top of their lungs alongside us at the very top? Not someone who just takes pics for the IG? Demi reminded me that mental illness doesn’t mean you’re half. It means that you have to look a little bit harder to find all the parts of your whole.

STILL, I’m a Warrior

At the end of the day, though, I do feel like a warrior. I know that I’ve survived every single hard day that life has thrown at me. I know that having a mental illness might absolutely suck some days. There will be temporary people who don’t understand. Mean words are going to be flung my way. Never again, though, will I try to fit into a box and deny who I am. 

I have severe clinical depression. I can say I have generalized anxiety. Sometimes, my severe social anxiety is noticeable. I suffer from panic disorder. I take medicine. But, I am me. I am a warrior. Demi was the first person I saw that made it cool to NOT be okay. Her music was the way that I understood the rollercoaster of the struggle and that I’m not the only one riding it.

Have you had a celebrity that changed your life? Tell me about them in any of my DMs below – I want to hear your story!

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!

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.

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!

When Hard Work Isn’t Enough

Yesterday, I watched someone I love get absolutely shafted out of not one, but three totally-deserved awards. Before you call out my bias, I’ve seen nominees get the same bullshit treatment because of the pettiness in someone’s heart, the preexisting prejudice against a program, and underlying favoritism. Obviously, I’m trying to keep this vague for the privacy of those involved, but I’m pissed off and I want to scream it from the rooftops!

I understand that this blog post reads more like a “personal Facebook status” in the words of my amazing editor (Thank you, Vanessa. Please hire her. She seriously is amazing). Just stick with me here and this vagueness will all have a purpose. Do I envy their job to choose between nominees who all deserve an award? No. Every single one of the nominations were valid, in my humble opinion. But, when the trend is always against one program because of your beef with ONE person on staff? Not cool. For those of you who did win, it was absolutely well deserved. Congratulations! They just missed a couple awards in what I viewed was an attempt to “stick it to the man”, which is just so on brand it’s disgusting. Those “couple awards” are not just with people I share blood with either… a lot of people got fucked over in this.

Okay, enough vague chatter. If you know, you know. So, what advice can I offer the person that I love? As someone who’s not directly involved, I’m angry. So, those who are have fire coming out of their ears – as they should! What do we do with that anger, hurt, and heartbreak? What can we learn from situations when we get totally robbed out of the recognition that we deserve? What can we do when someone else’s actions affect us, but we really can’t do anything about it? What do we do when all our hard work feels like it goes down the drain without answers or rationale?

I sat around thinking of the best way to say this today. Honestly, I can’t think of a way that doesn’t suck. So, I’m just going to say it and hopefully, you’ll stick with me: sometimes, hard work isn’t enough. 

Photo credit: Penny Hazeltine

Alright, ya’ll still here? Don’t get me wrong. I could write a novel about the advantages of hard work around your life. But as I watched the person that I love question if he worked hard enough, I was reminded that sometimes life kicks us really hard just to see if we can get up again. We can work as hard as our muscles will let us and as fast as our bones move, but sometimes life puts a big hurdle in front of us just to see if we can jump. 

Sometimes, there’s not a rationale either. Sometimes you do every single thing right. You show up, you work hard, you treat people right, and you give off positive energy that the world is asking for but somebody doesn’t like you that day and punished you for it. It was never about how hard you worked. It was about them; their insecurities and their power struggle.

Hard work is enough when it comes to running toward your goals in a full out sprint. Those bumps, though, they don’t discriminate against how fast you’re running. The person that’s at a slow jog probably navigates these bumps easier. The person that’s at a sprint probably gets knocked on their ass every single time. Yet, they still get up and they still sprint. 

Sometimes, my loves, life isn’t fair. That’s not me saying that as your baby boomer Grandma who is invalidating your feelings. That’s being realistic. If you walk through life thinking that only good things happen to good people and only bad things happen to bad people, you’re in for a rude awakening. Truth is, we get thrown the good, bad, ugly, beautiful, confusing, vulnerable, emotional, funny, heartwarming, and so many more to teach us lessons. No matter what your faith is or how you feel about God, Allah, presence, or even lack thereof. It’s a scientific fact that our brains take our experiences to turn them into little connections in our brain for lessons on how to act in the future. 

I didn’t say this to the person who was suffering because it felt kind of off topic, but I’m going to say it now. No one looks up to a bitch that hasn’t struggled. That sounds very judgemental and maybe it was, but truly no one looks up to people who don’t go through something. Please, prove me wrong, but people don’t idolize others who don’t work hard or go through something to get where they are. I mean, people with really successful businesses, careers, or activism go through something. It’s a fact. Prove me wrong. 

So, even if you’re planning on walking the most perfect path, there’s going to be pain, loss, and vulnerable times that don’t make any sense in the moment. Grand scheme, though, they just might.

So, what can we honestly take away from all of this so that it doesn’t make us want to fight someone like Bad Girls Club? 

  • Life tests us with hurdles to see how we’ll get up 
  • Sometimes people suck & they want to see you fail
  • Bumps look different to different people depending on how hard their working
  • You get a mixture of experiences thrown at you
  • Those who lack struggle aren’t the ones we care about long term

All of these pills are hard to swallow in their own way. I would consider myself a sprinter. I work hard at whatever I’m doing, but a couple of large bumps made for some scary falls and made it hard to sprint without being scared again. Even now, it’s hard to put all of my effort into something. I fear I’ll fall again… but that’s the test. Now, I’ve made getting up when I’m down a habit, a brand and a priority. People expect it. I expect it from myself. 

This blog is dedicated to the kids who got knocked down as a result of one adult’s beef with the staff member of one program. It’s dedicated to the kids who 100% deserved the awards they were given and praised for, but also for the kids that didn’t receive an award to project pain. This is for the girl that sang through nodes in all of her lead performances. This is for the kid that had to learn a brand new part and reteach an entire dance right before opening night. This is for the kid that played the Charlie Chaplin in the first high school rendition of Chaplin the Musical but didn’t win. This is for those who played The Music Man in the “The Music Man” which won Best Musical, but didn’t win best lead. This is for all the blood, sweat, and tears that have been put onto that stage, a run that has gotten taken away for a pandemic, and each ounce of hard work that you put in. This is not for the petty adult issues that caused these kids to wonder whether they’re picking the right path or what they could have done better. It’s not pitting kids against each other, but recognizing the beauty that came together to create such brilliance. This is about recognizing their hard work – what it ALWAYS should have been about. So yeah, your hard work wasn’t enough to push through the politics of the Jerry Awards, (whoops, that’s some tea….) but it was enough for every audience member, the writers of Chaplin: The Musical, and everyone that genuinely matters in your journey toward greatness.

Photo credit: Penny Hazeltine

People watch us when we fall. They applaud us when we get back up and they only notice again the next time we fall. So, you need to be the one that notices when you’re sprinting. You need to be the one that notices when you’re moving  fast and  powerfully. You need to be the pat on your back that says, “Wow, I got kicked down, spit on, and laughed at, but look at me now.” That needs to come from you. Grand scheme: if you are working your hardest, that’s all you can do. No ifs, ands, or buts. So stop beating yourself up about it, stop questioning your worth, and get back up every damn time.

At the end of the show, or the job, or crazy hard school project, you’re not going to remember who thought you weren’t worthy. You’re going to remember who thought you were. Make sure you’re one of your own biggest fans.

Organization in the Midst of Chaos

I’m in the middle of rebranding, dealing with Wisconsin unemployment, and moving back into my good old childhood home in this pandemic. You could say that I’m surrounded by a little bit of chaos. I’m sure that everyone has their own chaos that they’re dealing with in the face of this unexpected pandemic.

I’ve really tried to figure out the key to keeping myself afloat during all of this. Everyday I try to figure out the right words to string together to make you feel a little better after reading my posts. It can get a little exhausting, especially when those keys haven’t necessarily presented themselves in your own life yet.

One month into quarantine, I feel like I have a little gem I can share with all of you on the World Wide Web…. organization. I know, it seems almost unnecessary when your daily list of tasks includes brushing your teeth twice and making sure your dog stays alive alongside you. I get it. You may not be planning school, interviews, or work shifts in your planner right now, but that doesn’t mean that you’re off the hook when it comes to organizing your new kicks (even if it’s for a couple months before things are back to normal).

My friends would all tell you I thrive on organization now, but I haven’t always been this way. School came really easy to me (yes, I’m flexing), so the need for any sort of organization wasn’t even on my radar. When I got to college and realized in the first week that I didn’t even know how to take notes, organization became something I started to obsess over, research, and implement wherever I could.

No, I’m not telling you that you have to make a color coded Excel document with every single thing that you’ll do throughout the month on it. I mean, I do, but “different strokes for different folks,” right? So, let’s find a happy medium between chaos and that Excel sheet, okay?

I posted this little cutie about school notes, but having color coordinated planners, reminders, and business notes has been KILLER in staying organized even during pandemic turmoil.

Alright, I hate myself so much for writing this. Mornings are important. I’m not a morning person…. AT ALL. I would rather stay up all night finishing a project than get up early to start it, anybody with me? Honestly though, having a little bit of organization in a morning routine is essential to implementing it in other places throughout your life. Even if you wake up saying “I hate EmyDBlog for making me even consider this,” try to set and alarm and wake up at a certain time each day during quarantine. I’ve really been striving for 9am. Everybody’s morning routines are different and I’ll definitely be doing a podcast (which can be found here: on what I do in mine, but try and build some habits in your morning that just start to feel “normal.” Quarantine isn’t ever going to feel normal even if you have NOTHING on your to-do list, some structure is going to make you feel more productive and a little happier!

Okay, this one might be a stretch for “beginner” level organization. I encourage anyone(and I really do mean anyone) that I talk to about mental health, to 1) journal and 2) habit track. For me, journalling is a big part of organization because it is the part in my day that I get to decompress what I’m feeling. It gets all those yucky emotions out so I don’t carry them with me into the next day or my next project. Even if it’s two sentences,it’s good to just make that a habit. Habit tracking is a little harder, but can be really rewarding if you start doing it correctly.

Big tip: find a cute journal – you’ll want to write more. Other journals with prompts are available all over Amazon & Target!

I started habit tracking as a freshman in college. Honestly, it was because I would forget to take my medicine and needed a reminder in my planner. As weird as this sounds,  checking one of those boxes made me feel accomplished when I had felt like total shit the rest of the day. Habit tracking has opened my eyes to habits that I absolutely don’t want (like my intake of Mountain Dew) and habits that are completely falling to the curb (like the fact that I do NOT drink enough water). There are amazing apps for habit tracking. I’m tracking a lot of different things throughout the week to analyze later, but I started by looking at 2-3 things daily! You can learn so much about yourself by starting small. 

Obviously, there’s so much more that goes into organization. I’ll definitely be adding more posts about this, but my last little tidbit for my time being in quarantine? Make your damn bed. You can call me Sergeant EmyD over here. Hey, maybe even add it to your habit tracker??? But seriously, making your bed gives you a fundamental level of organization that supersedes all other chaos in life. Fake it ‘till you make it, right? My whole life could be in shambles, but my bed being made makes me feel like I at least have some of my shit together.

These are beginning steps, but soon you’ll be changing things around you’re space that just make you feel fundamentally more organized. Here’s the beautiful thing, you get to go at your own pace!

Organization, like most other things in your life, is centered around habits. As you probably already know, it takes a while to build those. There’s not one single Instagram queen or viral blogger who just woke up to a million followers and the most organized lifestyle of all time. Organization is learned. So, if during quarantine you’ve “learned” that your lifestyle includes waking up at 3pm, eating only take out, and going to bed at 5am, I have no judgement for you. BUT, if you’re unsatisfied with those habits you absolutely can unlearn them and learn to be a person that gets up at 5am, eats kale for every lunch, and goes to bed at 8pm. Over here – I’m going to be a happy medium. Whatever you’re doing to stay cool as a cucumber during this time is totally valid. But, if you want just a little bit of structure to this total shit show that is an international pandemic, don’t say I’ve never given you anything 😉

Questions on my organization plan? Comments on other amazing ways to say organized? Let me know in my DMs on IG, Twitter, or Facebook (@EmyDBlog) or email me at today! I’d love to hear your story! 

I Got Laid Off Due to COVID-19

I’m doing my absolute best to remain calm. We’ve seen before that I’m not good at dealing with A) change, B) financial insecurity, or C) anxiety. So, this is a trying time for me. I’m trying to remind myself that I’m with my family and, if I do get sick, I have them. I’m trying to remind myself that my parents have already offered to help me out with my bills through the end of my lease; if it came to that, of course.

Life’s little St. Patrick’s Day gift to me and my coworkers was the restaurant most of us have called home for 30+ hours a week to-go food only. No dine-in guests means no servers and no tips. . Plainly put, the restaurant doesn’t need us right now. As of March 17th, I have been laid off from my job. I’ll have one more paycheck before I no longer have an income.

For all intents and purposes, I’m fine. I’m okay. I’m trying to remind myself that I’m with my family and, if I do get sick, I have them. I’m trying to remind myself that my parents have already offered to help me out with my bills through the end of my lease; if it comes to that, of course. Sure, I’ll be in a financially uncomfy spot for a while. I also might go a little loco inside my childhood home for the foreseeable future. However, I don’t have a family to support. I don’t have a mortgage. I don’t have to provide food for anyone. I don’t have crazy loans… well, hold up, I do actually. But, they’re from school,  which means they can be postponed in situations like this.

Am I scared? Fuck yes. Am I nervous about what my life is going to look like in a month? Absolutely. Am I getting more and more anxious about this as information is released? For sure. I have not, however, had an anxiety attack. Every time I feel it coming on, I remind myself that I’m blessed for the position that I’m in. Though I’m absolutely allowed to feel nervous and validated in my fear, there are others who have less resources and less support.

I work with people whose entire livelihood is dependent on the business of the restaurant. They work at 3 jobs, all of which have been closed due to the spread of this terrible virus. Missing even one paycheck is going to be detrimental to their entire family. I have the option to apply for unemployment. For one reason or another, not everyone does. I have two parents who have a lot of job security right now that can offer me my old room back. They want me to temporarily move in and depend on them until all of this passes. They have the ability to help me with bills as I start to chip away at the money I’ve saved. Moral of the story: I’m okay. Others are not. Others need as much help and resources as they possibly can get.

COVID-19 is truly scaring the shit out of me. In the last 36 hours, our cases have doubled in Wisconsin. No, I’m not scared of getting sick because as the media says, I would probably be fine as a young, decently-healthy person. I have had a gnarly cough for about a month that feels exactly like the bronchitis I had at this time last year, so I know my lungs are feeling a little tired. Even after that, I’m still not scared of getting the virus. I’m scared for my mom, who has been working tirelessly to keep an assisted living facility on lockdown. I’m scared for my grandma and uncle who are extremely immunocompromised. I’m scared for my friends that take medications every day, which might make them an easier target for all of this.

As it has with the majority of victims, the infection will pass. The thing that keeps me up at night is life just grinding to a halt because no one really knows what to do. The panic that everyone is exhibiting is what goes on inside an anxious person’s mind at a majority of times. Usually, though, we can watch normal life occurring around us and use coping mechanisms to calm ourselves down. In this space, there’s no reassurance from the outside. Everyone is just as scared as you are. No one knows what to do just like you don’t really know what to do. It makes me nervous that American’s panic is not being met with secure plans of action or support for those out of a job. American’s don’t even have the privilege of believing their executive branch because it’s stance goes from “not a real threat” to “always knew it was going to be dangerous” in just a matter of days.

Panic comes from fear. There’s not a lot of things that are strong enough to fight that force besides kindness, patience, and empathy. This is not the time to point fingers at people across the world who are experiencing loss and uncertainty at rates even higher than we are. This is not the time to stimulate the bank accounts of people with millions of dollars, but the time to ensure that working class Americans don’t lose their homes or starve to death. This is not the time for a “every man for himself” mentality, but for us to help those in our community with any resources we might have a surplus of – even if that surplus is just positivity in the face of so much chaos.

So, yes. I was one of the thousands of Americans that was laid off from their job as coronavirus rages through each state. I’m one of the thousands that’s looking to our leaders for support, whether it be financial, information, or physical.

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again. My absolute favorite line in The Lion King is “I know that the clouds will clear and that the sun will shine.” This will pass. It may not seem like it now. It might get much, much worse before it gets any better. Until then, reach out to your loved ones, read a book, do a puzzle, listen to my podcast, learn a new language, play a video game. If the government urging you to do so isn’t enough, stay home because it keeps people that are at larger risk of dying from this disease safe from transmission that you may or may not be feeling. If that’s not enough, stay home because it sets an example for those around you that you give a fuck about this. And if that’s not enough…. Stay home because it might allow people like me and my coworkers to get back to work faster.

Keep up with my social distancing on all forms of social media (@EmyDBlog on Insta, Twitter, and Facebook). If you’re feeling overwhelmed by all of this, please don’t hesitate to reach out! If you want to chat with me via email, you can do so at