DO.YOU

How I am taking back control of my life from mental illness by following the DO.YOU mantra.

How do you DO.YOU?

I’ve been given the DO.YOU speech by family and friends alike and the significance of a simple phrase has been vital to the changes I’ve been making in my life. In all my time spent taking care of my mental health, I have heard that there is value in selfishness — that we have to put on our own oxygen masks before we can put them on our loved ones in the proverbial plane ride. I still show my love for others, but I put myself first. And the improvement in my mood has felt amazing.

You may be asking, how do you DO.YOU? Well let me tell you, it is easier than you think! The most difficult part has been starting the mental refocus of my energy towards doing things that are important and enjoyable to me, rather than only to others.

It’s about putting your passions first. And the first step to that is figuring out what it is that you deeply care about, and making that your main priority each day.

DO.YOU everyday!

Habits form when you make yourself a priority. Healthy habitual practice at a hobby, pursuing a career in a field that you are passionate about, exercising in a fun and exciting way: these are all steps towards the DO.YOU mantra that I practice. Find something you enjoy and pursue it everyday.

For me, writing has become my habitual practice towards putting me first. Writing helps me express myself when I’ve felt silenced by my mental illness in the past. To put my thoughts and feelings onto paper helps me express myself creatively and share my story with others.

DO.YOU for positive self talk!

Think about the things you like about yourself. A few weeks ago I posted about positive affirmations and I took my own challenge by reciting “I am” statements that made me feel good about myself. It felt a little awkward to say out loud, but I felt so good after reminding myself of my good qualities that my mood improved. I continue to recite them daily. If your friends and family say those positive things about you, why can’t you say them to yourself?

DO.YOU and you will see that all the great things others love about you are easier to remember and act on. I’ve been making better choices for my life and have been able to assert myself so that my needs are met. You can too!

Only you can DO.YOU!

We are all responsible for our actions, but mental illness can make it difficult to choose the right paths in life for ourselves, and most of us haven’t chosen to have chronic invisible illness. I see my loved ones telling me to DO.YOU so that I can refocus my attention towards the ways I can better my life, away from the traumatic events that were out of my control.

Only you have the power to DO.YOU — simple as that. And what makes life great is the uniqueness we each have and coexisting harmoniously with each of our differences. If we live to put ourselves first, we are less likely to feel slighted by others, events, and circumstances that we cannot control. We have responsibility to find and follow our happiness. And then we may make strides down our paths towards living our best lives.

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. — Mark Twain

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ART.THERAPY

Find out more about the joys of art therapy!

Art is a creative expression just as writing is for myself. I paint my mood and feelings with vibrant colors or draw my emotions with dark and rich charcoal and pastel. I used to talk about art therapy years ago with people outside of my mental illness circles and it was not fully understood by some. The value is unquestionable.

I was blessed to have experiences with art therapy on both sides of the spectrum — from receiving it at renowned hospitals to assisting in teaching it at mental health facilities. I found it to be a valuable tool for putting your thoughts on paper and painting what you may not know how to express with words. It is especially helpful with adolescents going through difficult times.

Why is ART.THERAPY important?

For many reasons. I am blessed to have found the gift of writing as a catharsis for expressing myself. I also find out about my inner beings wants and needs through processing my paintings and drawings. Especially with young children, art therapy creates a safe and familiar space to kids whose brains may not be fully developed yet to put their mental pains into words or writing.

Not just for kids, art therapy helps adults get in touch with their childlike wonder and curiosity about what is deep down inside of them. For more on the value of art therapy, check out this American Art Therapy Association description here.

So you want to become an ART.THERAPY professional…

There are increasing numbers of art therapy programs popping up as it gains traction with the mental health movement. In particular, I looked at a program in New Rochelle with an excellent Masters; you can find out more about it here.

It is a great major to pursue if you love both helping people and using your artistic talents.

Last but not least, ART.THERAPY with a shameless plug twist!

I’ve been given the compliment from friends and family to start selling the artwork that I create for my own form of art therapy expressions — and I finally put the advice into action!! You can find my brand new Etsy shop “PUNKARTFAIR” here.

I only have a few paintings up so far, but be sure to check back as I add more to the collection for sale!

Thank you for reading! xo and happy painting 🙂

If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot paint,’ then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced. — Vincent Van Gogh

Photo: Original Artwork by Joanna Fanuko

ENABLING.LABELS

ENABLING.LABELS can be a touchy subject. Only you have the power to make positive changes to your life in your journey to mental wellness.

My topic of choice today is a touchy subject for me and many others. ENABLING.LABELS means a few different things for me. The word “enable” has a fairly positive context in the typical use of the word. We can enable each other to grow through teaching right from wrong when young; we can enable those of use with physical disabilities to live a more comfortable and active life with wheelchairs and crutches. But there is another side of enabling that maybe isn’t as positive. In the mental health realm, it can mean allowing someone with addiction or mental health issues to stay put in the patient role by unknowingly enabling them to continue down an already slippery slope.

That’s where “labels” comes in.

If family and friends are ENABLING.LABELS it makes it hard for someone to advance out of their patient role. For myself personally, I often manipulated my way to staying dependent on my parents because I knew it was more comfortable for me to feel better. As soon as I lived alone (thanks to huge help from my therapist) I found that I actually did have the capacity to be less codependent with my mom and dad. I didn’t feel like just a patient anymore.

If someone is in trouble with mental illness (or physical illness for that matter) the majority of the time their support systems (family, friends, loved ones) just want to help them feel better. We are coddled in some cases (as was my case) and while that does feel comforting, it makes it difficult for me to step out of my patient role.

What can you do besides “enabling?”

If you have a loved one who needs help, by all means, continue to be there and support them. But remember: in some cases it can be kinder to allow them to exit that stifling comfort zone where they are always being rescued with habits fed — on their own. Give the gift of independence and freedom from the shackles of illness.

We are all stronger then we think.

For beautiful eyes, look for the good in others; for beautiful lips, speak only words of kindness; and for poise, walk with the knowledge that you are never alone.

— Audrey Hepburn

man lying down on mat while lifting woman
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