As part of my mission to raise mental health awareness, I´ve started a guest series. The series will feature various bloggers that write about positive thinking and mental health. By creating this series, I hope to introduce different perspectives and experiences regarding mental wellbeing.
The first guest blogger is Anita Chitnis, the creator of www.unstickyourlifenow.com, a blog all about giving you the extra push and confidence to live the life you want!
So, tell me a little bit about yourself!
My name is Anita Chitnis. I am 23 years old. I grew up in a suburban town called Edison in New Jersey. I went to Rutgers University and completed my undergraduate studies in business. While attending Rutgers, I realized that I didn’t want an office job right after graduation. So currently I´m running my blog, working on an ebook & video course, and waitressing part-time at a pancake house.
What’s your blog about?
So my blog is primarily a way for me to connect with anyone who is just a little stuck in their life. For those who needs a little push in the right direction with the assurance that it’s okay to be where they are right now. We are often pushed to believe that we need to have everything figured out at age 22.
What motivated you to create your blog?
I read somewhere that you should aspire to be the person you needed to be when you were younger. Looking back, I needed someone to tell me everything was going to be okay. I also needed someone to give me tips on how to change my bad habits. Hopefully, my blog becomes that reassuring voice for those who need it.
Also, I watched a video where 80+ nursing home residents were asked about their biggest regrets. Their biggest regrets were things they didn’t do (like asking someone out or going for that job). It made me realize that I wanted to express my creativity through writing. I didn’t want to regret not doing it later in life.
What do you hope people will get out of your blog and what are your ultimate goals for the blog?
When I started college, my anxiety levels peaked and I wasn’t able to deal with it in a healthy manner. I started down a vicious cycle of self-destructive coping behaviors like binge eating. I hope that my blog helps others realize that that’s not the way to cope and that help is out there. My ebook deals with this topic and goes more in depth than my blog posts. Once my ebook is done, I hope that it´s used as a help manual that can be referred to when needed. My ultimate goal is to make a living off what I love to do – help people. I especially want to help millennial women. I want to help fellow millenial women realize their potential and not be afraid to go after what they want in life.
Why is practicing positivity and optimism important to you?
I spent about 8 years of my life depressed, sometimes borderline suicidal. It was a horrible time and I wish I had gotten help sooner. I attended therapy and while I guess it was a stepping stone, it was not as helpful as I’d hoped. My life completely changed when I started doing daily affirmations. A lot of things can change for the better if you train yourself to have a different mindset.
What does ‘being healthy’ mean to you?
There is this notion that being healthy means eating kale and drinking lemon water every day, but I think it goes beyond that. You need to take care of your mind just like you take care of your body. You could drink all the green tea in the world, but if you don’t work out your emotional baggage and let go of past regrets, you´ll never truly be a healthy person. Stress kills more people than ever, especially now.
What are some daily (or weekly) habits of yours that keep you mentally healthy?
I used to be someone who laughed at meditation. I thought that sitting there with my eyes closed would do nothing. This attitude changed when I reached the peak of my anxiety and had several panic attacks a day. Now, I deep breathe and meditate every day for about 10 minutes. I do this exercise longer on days that are busy or stressful. I also do positive affirmations on a weekly basis. Also, I’ve been working out a lot ever since I got a scare from the doctor about my physical health. Luckily, I fell in love with weight training and quite honestly, working out helps me be more focused and calm calm.
If you could give your 15-year-old self a piece of advice, what would it be?
A lot of bad stuff is going to happen but it shouldn’t discourage you. People are not who they say they are all the time, but that doesn’t mean you should isolate yourself and not trust others. It just means to be a little careful. Do things that scare you because you might end up liking them. Most importantly, live a life without many regrets because that’s the best life to live.
What is confidence to you?
Confidence is simply the way you feel about yourself and about your capabilities to do things. You need to practice self love and talk to yourself like you would to a friend. When you start the journey towards self love, you have to figure out what keeps you from living the life you want. Once you figure out how to overcome these obstacles, your confidence will grow tenfold.
What’s your favorite quote and why?
“If anyone ever did it, then you can too”
I always assumed that to reach a certain level of success, you need certain credentials. On the other hand, you see people lose 300 pounds without surgery (not to say weight loss surgery is an easy way out because it isn’t) and people that go from living on the streets to making millions. You have to believe that if they can do the impossible, so can you. Sure it will be tough, but you have to work for your dream!
I think we all have a personal code of conduct or guidelines that help define how we want to life our lives and who we want to be. Can you share three or four codes that you live by?
1. As long as you aren’t hurting others, do things that make you happy, no matter how strange they might seem.
2. Stop hating on yourself and others, channel that energy somewhere else. (I constantly have to remind myself of this one)
3. Don’t lie to yourself. Focus on doing your best and put 100% effort into whatever you’re doing. Results will come.
4. Take away one good thing from every person you meet. Learn something from everyone.
…..and that wraps up my first Q&A with another blogger passionate about helping others through positivity! If you’re interested in following Anita, please subscribe to her blog, www.unstickyourlifenow.com, or like her on Facebook.
Until next time,
Today’s topic: depression. For the past few months that I’ve been in Spain, I’ve been working, traveling, and focusing on my future by studying for my LSAT. However, as exciting as the future can be, I like to reflect on the past and how far I’ve come. Recovering from major depression and learning how to manage depression have made it possible for me to be where I am today and its so important for me to help others dealing with depression. Below, I’ve listed the top 10 ways I’ve stayed on track during my personal journey of recovery and what I consider to be crucial to my successes!!
1. See a psychologist.
Showing up at my university’s clinic was the first step I took towards recovery. It was the first time that I reached out for help and helped come to terms with the fact that I could not deal with my depression alone. While some people do see a psychologist for years while depressed and would argue that the therapy visits don’t help, I personally consider this an important step towards acknowledging your mental illness. Therapy helps you get into that ‘warrior recovery mode’ that you do not accept your current mental state and are willing to help other help you fight it. In addition, talking to someone helps you uncover realizations about yourself that you might of not had otherwise. At a therapy session, you have a place to share your thoughts and hear another perspective regarding your depression in a safe and consistent environment.
2. If you don’t know where to start, do the opposite of what you’re used to.
When I finally decided to take action and deal with my depression, I didn’t know where to begin after being severely depressed for more than four years. Suffering from depression during your teenage years brings an especially unique challenge: it interferes with your development. During the years when you grow and change the most (physically and mentally), depression hinders the process of discovering who you are and who you want to be. So by the time I found myself in college, depression was so engrained into who I was and who I though that I was, that I didn’t know how to separate from myself and who I was without it. All I knew what that I didn’t want to be the person who I was with depression and so I decided to do and be the opposite. That meant that even though my depression told me that I didn’t deserve to feel good because of allowing my depression to happen, I was to make myself feel good. I went out of my way to express my sense of fashion and to dress nice. I made sure to do my make up more often to feel pretty, because contrary to what my depression had been telling me, I did deserve to feel pretty and I deserved all the things that my depression had denied me.
3. Set small goals.
When tackling something as complicated as depression, its so important to cherish and celebrate the small victories. There will be times that you relapse or let depression get the best of you, and when this happens, its important to not have those disappointments destroy you mentally. Setting and completing daily goals like making the bed, reading for an hour, or completing small errands helps us feel in control and positive about our journey. Also setting long term goals such as getting an A on the class, or finishing a book, (or getting a good score on the LSAT), helps us work towards something bigger yet feasible.
4. Get a support system and trust it.
As you progress through recovery, you’ll realize that its a cycle of ups and down and more than once, you’ll relapse and find it easier and comforting to let your depression take the reins; DON’T. Our ultimate goal is to fight back for control. However, sometimes you won’t have the energy to fight relapses yourself and its important to have a support system to reach out to. Your support system should be people who care about you – your family, your friends, your mentors – who are a part of your journey through recovery. Trust that they care and will help you feel better and support you. Trust them to motivate you to get back up and fight your mental illness.
5. Find a hobby.
Hobbies are important. They help you create (whether its intangible or tangible) and reminds you that you are capable of beautiful things. They give you a sense of identity and comfort, especially as you deal with the ups and downs of depression.
Exercise has played one of the most important roles in my personal journey. Even now, I continue to go to the gym 4-5 times a week for mental clarity. Beyond the physical benefits of exercising, just an hour at the gym leaves me focused and boosts my confidence in tackling my day and my goals. It’s no secret that exercise helps with the release of endorphins, a chemical that helps relieve pain and stress, and I strongly encourage you to take advantage of this phenomenon. Even on days that I’m tired or down, just 30 minutes of weight training or cardio makes a world of a difference in my attitude.
7. Travel by yourself.
There’s no better way to learn about yourself than to spend some quality alone time. Solo traveling gives you the perfect opportunity to make decisions entirely on your own, to wander and to explore. I treasure my study abroad experience in Buenos Aires during my spring semester of college because it played such a vital role in helping me learn who I was. Traveling through Patagonia in southern Argentina and experiencing the Atacama Desert in northern Chile reminded me how beautiful the world is and how life is worth living. Figuring out my travel plans and meeting so travelers from all across the world taught me how capable I was and how much I could learn from other people. Even if you can’t take a trip out of the country or state, just a day out in the city or on a hike gives you time to reflect and look at the world around you. Its a refreshing experience to be reminded that the world is full of possibilities and wonders.
8. Don’t give up.
Relapses are inevitable and the faster you accept it, the better off you will be. However, the best way to decrease and mitigate the effects of a relapse is to resist it. Obviously this is easier said than done but I’ll be the first to tell you that recovering from depression isn’t easy. This means that if you don’t feel like going out and being social, then go out. When you feel like crying in bed all day, dress up, do your make up, and call a friend. The key is to do these things automatically and mechanically. The minute you start to negotiate with yourself is the minute you lose and your depression wins. You won’t win every time and over time, it’ll become easier and easier to overcome the depressive urges, just don’t be too hard on yourself!
9. Fake it till you make it.
Embarking on a journey of recovery doesn’t exactly mean you know where you’re going. You probably don’t remember what its like to get up from bed and go about your day without a struggle or what its like to live blissfully in the moment, and that’s okay. But you do have a vision of who you aspire to be without your depression and and sooner or later, you’ll become it. Get comfortable with the uncomfortable as you embark on the journey of a better you and ignore the voice of depression. So get dressed and go out for a coffee with a friend. Laugh and socialize even though you might feel like you’re dying on the inside…. because you’re not dying. You are surviving and you are alive and you’ll live to see that day when you finally make it.
10. Lose the shame, get comfortable with your depression.
As you continue with your journey of managing your depression, you will learn that depression is not you, only a part of you. For some, like myself, depression is something that will always be apart of our lives, and thats okay. Through recovery, you’ll understand your relationship with depression and understand that any periods of sadness and heaviness wont last. Recognize that depression is something that happens to you and don’t let it shame you; you are strong and beautiful even with your scars.
Hey guys! Here’s my my first article published on Thought Catalog:
Depression sinks into you like an anchor. It weighs down on your shoulders relentlessly, dragging you down deeper and deeper into misery and emptiness.You desperately gasp for peace of mind, if only for a few seconds. With every gasp for air you are faced with the unavoidable reality that you are stuck in this dark hopeless pit.
Do not worry though, soon enough you become comfortable with your new home and forget that sanity and happiness ever existed.Yes, it is painful. Yes, it drains your energy, your spirit, your desires.But this is now your home and this is who you are. All you know now is constant sadness and unwillingness to exist. A life of anything but this is unimaginable.
However, there will come a time, and there is no telling when this time will come. This will be the time that you become tired of your dark pit. You will realize that you cannot simply go on living life like this. It is much too painful, much to heavy. You will realize that it is no longer the answer to simply gasp for moments of happiness and peace of mind. This is the moment when in the depths of your despair you see two, and only two options: to end your life or to change. But change is scary. What is required is a commitment to climb out of this pit that has been home for so long.
Once you have reached rock bottom, there is nowhere to go but up.
Sure, recovering from depression is no easy task. The journey up is not a one-time trip. On the contrary. It requires patience and the acceptance that for every amount of progress you make, there will be setbacks. Sometimes even enormous setbacks. Your progress will not be visible within a few days, or even weeks. You will see it after months. You will see that for every few days of sadness, you will be overcome with hours, maybe days of peace. Eventually, you will find that for every couple of good days, you will have your bad days. And in this progress, however slow it may be, you will find the strength to continue on your journey to recovery.
With every step towards recovery, you will uncover the beauty of life that you had once forgotten while you were in your hopeless pit. You will even come to appreciate parts of life simply because you could not experience them during depression. And as you make your way towards recovery, you will occasionally look back to your life in that dark, hopeless hole. You will shed a tear, maybe many, because your life in that hole, as miserable as it was, has gifted you with an incredible gift, a gift of being incredibly humbled by the beauty of life.
How to forgive yourself:
- You are trying, and that’s what matters. – The path to success is not a straight line. It involves ups and downs, stumbles and falls, and out-right walls cemented directly on your path. No successful person would be anywhere in life if they gave up and quit trying. Recovery from depression is like any path. Success requires commitment. Commit to recovery. There will be times when you will want to give up and call it quits, and that’s okay. Anyone who’s struggled with depression has been there, frustrated with inputting so much effort and seeing such little results mentally. The most important thing however, is to keep on pushing through and never letting your frustration get the best of you.
- Mistakes are mistakes and failures are lessons. – No one gets anywhere without making mistakes; how would you learn otherwise? The key thing to remember is to take a mistake for what it is – unintentional. So accept your mistake as a learning experience: an experience that helps you change for the better. Yes you can see mistakes as failures, but you can also see them as lessons. No one has gotten anywhere in life by avoiding failure. Just like you can’t except to create a successful business from day one, don’t expect to be able to manage your depression with a snap of a finger.
- Cherish the small victories. – Depression doesn’t go away because you’ve decided that its time to go has come. Depression, especially long term depression, becomes habitual. Its symptoms become engrained into who you are as a person and its difficult to remember who you were before your mental illness. Battling depression requires you to retrain your mind and resist the toxic manners that you’ve lived with for so long. As a result, rewiring your brain takes time and happens slowly. Focus on being better than you were yesterday and eventually you will realize the changes.
- Do not compare yourself to others. – We are all on our own paths to happiness and success. All of us come from different up-bringings and have faced different hardships. Someone suffering with a mental illness knows as well as anyone that what’s on the surface is not representative of what’s inside. Especially with all the edited pictures on social media, it’s easy to convince yourself that everyone else is having a much better life than you. Focus on your personal victories and being a better than the person you were yesterday.
- Adapt the mindset that you are on a constant path towards self-improvement. – Happiness is a journey, not a destination. If you begin to look at your life as a never-ending journey, then you will automatically accept the facts that you will make mistakes. These mistakes aren’t there to make you stop your journey, they’re meant to make you grow and consistently mold you in to a better person. To not make any mistakes is to not make any progress.
Self forgiveness is important; with or without depression, self forgiveness is necessary in order to have a healthy relationship with yourself. I hope these five steps help bring you step closer to self-love!
We’re finally in 2017 and I’m back in Miami to finish up my last semester of my undergraduate career. I’ll be graduating in May with a Bachelors of International Relations and a Certificate in Latin American and Caribbean Studies. Now that I’m on the home stretch *dundundunnnn*, it’s important to not only look towards the future, but also at all that I’ve accomplished during these past few years. Like, (1) earning a full ride to attend FIU, (2) studying abroad in Buenos Aires during my sophomore year, and (3) learning how to deal with my depression.
Looking back at this year, here’s a few things that I’ve accomplished in 2016:
- Made the Dean’s list.
- Visited my friend Anna in Paris and took a road trip in the South of France.
- Spent the summer in Poland and completed a public affairs internship in Warsaw.
- Organized a mini solo trip to Barcelona after my internship.
- Worked a business development internship my Fall semester.
- Started my blog!
Looking forward? What are my goals?
- Finish off the semester strong with all A’s. – Classic.
- Live day by day. – As much as my grades and GPA matter, it’s equally important to make the most out of the few months that I have left as a college student. After, I graduate, I’m not sure if I’ll stay in Miami or go back home or move to a foreign country – so these may be my last few months in Miami! What does this mean? It means taking advantage of every day and saying yes to new experiences.
- Study for the LSAT. – Although I’m not entirely sure of what I want to do in the future, I have a few paths in mind. One possible path is law. This semester, I’m taking a few law classes to see whether or not I’d like studying law. Even still, I will need a great LSAT score to get into law school, and that requires months of studying. Therefore, studying starts….NOW.
- Figure out a plan post graduation. – Last semester of college = figuring out the next step in life. If you’re wondering what the plan is as of now, there is none *nervous laughter*.
- Travel. – This semester, I want to travel somewhere, sometime. Why, you ask? I’m a firm believer that travel is good for the soul and makes you excited for life. Traveling reminds me that there’s so much to see and in experience in the world. So this semester, there will probably be times where I’m stressed out about the future, traveling will help me remember that there’s more to life.
- Continue working on my blog! – I have worked too hard to quit now! Running a blog has been time consuming and sometimes frustrating; from constantly trying to write good content, to learning to become more tech savvy in running/designing my blog. Despite these challenges, I have grown and learned so much from creating my blog. At the end of the day, I’m truly excited and determined to help and inspire others!
As some of you know, one of the main reasons I created my blog was to raise mental health awareness by talking about my personal experiences with depression. Since writing a post about my depression in September, I haven’t really posted as much as I’d would like to on my blog. The reasons for this is (1) I was pretty busy this past semester (more in a later post!) and (2) the difficulty in writing about a complex topic like mental health.
I don’t think depression really ever leaves a person. You overcome depression by learning how to manage it, but that doesn’t mean that depression will never affect you again. In my case, my depression remains a little voice in the back of my head that occasionally comes out to haunt me *dundundunnn* and makes me question my overall recovery from depression. When this happens, which is pretty much always when I sit down to write a blog post, the voice questions my ‘credentials’ to write about the subject and try to empower others.
It’s a voice that tells me that it’s silly to try to break away from my depression, convincing me that I will always be shackled down by its chains. “Hey lil mama“, it whispers in my ears, “I’ve been around for years, don’t go around acting like you done with me“. It mocks me for trying to empower others, pointing out the irony in how I try to write posts while the shadow of depression looms over me.
Depression thrives on self-doubt and it will always try to come back from the dead by trying to convince you that you are no better without it. What I have realized these past few months is that I must take this voice for what it is: a voice. A voice’s power is limited by the amount of power you chose to give it. Likewise, a voice has absolutely no power to do anything, unless it successfully convinces you to act out on its behalf.
And so I throw a peace sign and say, “watch me do my thing” to the little voice that so desperately tries to retain the power that it once had over me. What this also means, my fellow readers, is that you can expect more consistent posts in the upcoming future!
The main reason I created this blog was to share the story of my depression, my recovery, and how it made me the person I am today. Beginning in high school, I suffered from depression for 5-6 years and an eating disorder for 4 years. These years were defined by constant sadness and mental instability, only to be covered up with a ‘happy’ mask during the day to fulfill societal expectations. After coming to FIU, the struggle to hide my depression behind my mask became unbearable. I finally hit rock bottom the spring of my freshman year at FIU and [unwillingly] starting seeking professional help. From the day I dedicated myself to recovery, my journey was anything but easy; it was full of setbacks, breakdowns, frustration, tears, and anger. As someone depressed for so many years; my life only consisted of being depressed and trying to hide it. With my decision to recover, I was destroying everything I knew myself and life to be.
The next two years that followed were essentially a blind mission to create a completely new person out of myself. Depression took most of my teenage years – a significant period of growth in anyone’s life. And so here I was, as a 20 year old, desperately trying to figure out who I was without my depression. Without depression playing center stage in determining my actions and behavior, I had to learn everything about myself: what I liked to do for fun, who I wanted to be, what my strengths and weaknesses were, and even what my personality was like. Similar to a time when you had a presentation for class that you were completely unprepared for, yet you had no choice but to get up and present. Sure, you came up with some BS before class, but on the inside you were low-key freaking out that (1) you’d forget your hastily complied BS, (2) freeze, or (3) be asked questions that you were completely unprepared to answer. This was what my life was like for two years: a time full of anxiety because I lacked complete understanding for who I was as a person (and who desperately hoped that no one would ever put me in a situation I was not prepared to be in.)
What do you do for fun?
– The most basic question asked by someone you just meet and equally one of the most horrifying questions someone suffering/recovering from depression can ever be asked.What do I do for fun? What are my hobbies? What do I enjoy? As someone who was just re-learning the concept of fun, this was one of the many questions that put me in panic-mode. Depression is a world completely absent of fun and it took time for me to discover what I truly enjoyed doing [which is harder than you’d think].
And so my recovery went on – five steps forward, three steps back. With each failure, I learn new things about myself and about life. I eventually learned to trick myself into believing that every setback had a purpose and eventually my ‘failures’ became ‘lessons’. With each passing month, I began to see little changes in how I felt and how I saw the world. I began to appreciate things that I was unable to enjoy in the past. And with these changes, my desire to continue towards recovery grew stronger.
This is not to say that recovery was a walk in the park – it was a tug-of-war between ‘keep on going’ and ‘give up’. Many times, ‘giving up’ almost won because of my frustration with the concept of recovery. How was I to possibly know when my recovery would end and when my depression-free life began? I would constantly question this and get tired spending so much energy and time focusing on my mental health and sanity. I was tired of making progress and then falling into a depression relapse, only to undo all the progress that I had done. My journey often seemed impossible, as I tried to understand who I was as a person, struggling to figure out what parts of my life were a product of my depression and what parts were the real me.
Through these ups and downs, one of the greatest lessons I learned was that I could not accomplish this feat alone. In the moments I wanted to give up and go back to my habits of depression, I turned to my support group to get me back on my feet. Yes, internal motivation and determination is a necessary key in recovery, but having the support of those who have seen you at your worst and want you to be better is just as important.
Within these two years, I had done the impossible: I recreated myself from someone who had no desire to live and had complete hatred towards herself, into someone in love with life and herself. My recovery and the experiences that came with it, have been life changing and responsible for everything I am today. Everyone knows the saying, “mind over matter”, a short, yet powerful statement that suggests that with the right mindset, anything is possible. However, depression handicaps the mind, making every part of daily life a dreadful chore, so doing anything beyond the necessary was exhausting. Now that I’ve learned to manage my depression, I am amazed by the beauty of life and the endless possibilities as to how we can live it.
Now, my depression does not control me; I control my depression. With this new found power, I am excited about life and living it to the fullest: from dressing fabulously to feel good, to traveling the globe to learn about myself and the world. This post is meant to be a gateway to future posts about depression and recovery. By incorporating my recovery as a key element of my blog, I want to challenge the stigma related to mental illnesses and provide a platform to openly discuss depression. My depression and recovery have gifted me with a unique life philosophy that can be related and adapted by anyone. For those battling a mental illness, my hope is to shine light on depression and prove that recovery is very much possible, regardless of how impossible it may seem at any given moment. For those that aren’t, well I hope you become more educated on mental illnesses and reflect my life experiences on your own life.
Thank you for taking a moment to read this post and I hope you check back with my blog soon. 🙂