How to Tell Someone You’re Not Interested

mental health, Sexuality

The anxiety starts in my chest and then blooms, smothering my lungs and filling my belly: a guy has just asked me out. Oh no, I think, panicked. Am I interested? How do I turn him down?

I’m not a character in a preteen novel, with butterflies in her stomach because she’s never been asked on a date. It’s definitely not my first rodeo. I have, however, had bad experiences of being asked out by men who couldn’t take no for an answer — including one guy who harassed me online for two years after I declined a date with him. With 81 percent of women having experienced some kind of sexual harassment, I’m definitely not alone in this anxiety.

Read the whole article at Talkspace. Featured image: Alessandro de Bellis, Unsplash.

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Dealing with Complicated Feelings Around Abusers

mental health, Sexual violence, trauma

Recently, a man I know was outed as a serial sexual harasser. I say “know” in a rather unfortunate sense: I’d been approached online by, went on a date with, and even kissed the guy a couple years ago. His too-forward sexual advances had always left a bad taste in my mouth.

When the revelations went live, with dozens of women telling stories of his disrespectful and aggressive behavior, I felt happy he was exposed, yet ashamed I hadn’t listened to my gut instincts. I blamed myself for overlooking his boorish behavior and letting my hope that he could end up being a decent guy take precedence over the warning bells clanging in my head.

Giving that man the benefit of the doubt was not my fault. And if you’ve stayed with an abusive partner, or even given a guy a second chance after he harassed you, it’s not your fault, either. The pressure to be kind, generous, and forgiving — especially as women — is drummed into our heads from birth.

Read the complete article at Talkspace. Featured image: Court Prather on Unsplash

One Year After #MeToo

mental health, Sexual violence, trauma

The day after Dr. Christine Blasey Ford testified before congress about her experience of sexual violence in relation to Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN) received the highest number of calls in its 24-year history. More than 3,000 people connected with the network on September 28, part of a record-breaking increase in the number of survivors of sexual violence requesting services since the #MeToo movement began last year.

Read the complete post at Talkspace. Featured image: Mihai Surdu on Unsplash

When is Talking About Looks Damaging to Mental Health?

body image, Health, mental health

I’m a pretty confident gal. Actually, that’s an understatement. I am a seriously confident woman. I think I’m gorgeous, exceptionally talented, super interesting, and not least of all, very humble.

I’m lucky to have a fantastic mom, who always modelled body confidence, never talked about weight, and told me I was the most beautiful woman in the world (well, except for my equally beautiful sisters). My partners have never made me feel bad about my body. I go for a “queer, curvier Sophia Loren in 1964” vibe, and I’m pretty pleased with the results.

And yet…

Read the complete article at Talkspace and Thrive Global. Featured image: Pierre Best, Unsplash.

I’m Worried About My Friend’s Suicide Risk. How Can I Help?

mental health

I don’t know who she was.

It was the early 2000s, the height of the AIM craze, when middle schoolers rushed home at the end of the day to log on and start chatting. These were the early days, where we could hardly distinguish an LOL from a G2G and emojis had yet to replace emoticons (I know, (☉_☉)!).

One day, I was chatting with my friend when I started panicking: She had seen an apparent suicide note on someone else’s AIM profile, and didn’t know what to do. All of 13 years old, we called our respective parents to help save the day. Our parents called the police. But this was the early days of social media, when it was next to impossible to figure out where someone was or how to reach out to them.

To this day, I still wonder if that person is alright.

Read the complete article at Talkspace. Cover photo:  Anthony Tran on Unsplash

Why It’s Healthy To Lower Your High Expectations in College

mental health

A group of us were getting together for the first time since graduation, reminiscing about our earlier selves.

“We were all horrible in college,” my friend said recently over drinks. “We were so status-obsessed and trying to keep up with everyone else who was status-obsessed.”

Another friend, sipping his beer, put it more succinctly: “We were all so depressed in college.”

He meant this literally.

Read the complete post at Talkspace. Featured image: Andre Hunter on Unsplash

How to Emotionally Prepare Yourself for Your Next Relationship

mental health, Relationships

I’ll admit it: when my Talkspace editors suggested that I write about how to overcome harmful relationship patterns, my first thought was “Hey man, I wish I knew.”

I, like most of us, have had my fair share of bad relationships, from “it’s complicated,” to “it’s really complicated,” to abuse (and there’s no Facebook status for that). I, like most of us, have gone into each new relationship hoping it will be different this time, but worrying that old patterns will come back to bite me in the derrière. And I, like many women and queer people, have swiped through a dating wasteland of those too eager to show me their genitals, wondering why it has to be so difficult to find someone who will treat me with respect. And of course, I’ve had my fair share of wonderful moments, sweet partners, and fulfilling relationships, too.

But in a world where many of our experiences of intimacy are marked by trauma or negative patterns of behavior, how can we work through the bad stuff to find enduring, healthy love?

Read the full article at Talkspace. Featured image: Tallie Robinson, Upsplash. 

5 Ways to Turn Your Day Around Now

mental health

Science knows the secret to happiness — and it’s a lot more simple than you’d think.

That, at least, was the message of a recent New York article that summarized the scientific consensus on what makes humans happy. And, well: turns out that you could probably guess the answers. Beyond having your basic needs met, money, as your mom probably could have told you, does not buy happiness — though it can buy free time to do what you want, which does make you happier. Gratitude is good. Social connection is important. Doing things for others makes us feel better about ourselves.

This is all well and good for the long term. Sure, we all plan to incorporate more family time into our days, take up a hobby, and give back. But when you’re having a crappy day, it’s not enough to plan for the future — you want to know how can the research on happiness can make your day better now.

You’re in luck. Here are five ways you can turn your day around right now. That’s right: we mean right now.

Read the full article at Talkspace. Featured image Wikimedia Commons

How Does People Pleasing Negatively Affect Your Mental Health?

mental health

Imagine walking down a crowded street. You’re strolling along, minding your own business, when suddenly someone who is texting while walking (a dangerous pastime!) bumps right into you. You know that person bumped into you and not the other way around. You know that it wasn’t your fault and that it was, in fact, their fault.

Do you say sorry?

Read the whole article at Talkspace. Featured image: Wikimedia Commons.

 

 

5 Ways Black and White Thinking Poisons Your Perspective

mental health

I’m a terrible person.

My sister is so beautiful and I’m so ugly.

My boyfriend is the most attractive person I know and I’ll never be as into anyone else again.

We all think of the world in black and white terms at times. From refusing to see the flaws in our loved ones, to being overly hard on ourselves, the human brain’s tendency to understand the world in either/or terms has a profound effect on our relationships.

The official psychological term for black and white thinking is “splitting.” At its extremes, splitting can be a symptom of mental illness like Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). In everyday settings, it can simply hold us back from experiencing some of the richness of our lives and relationships.

Read the full article at Talkspace. Featured image: Wikimedia Commons.