Wednesday, September 20, 2017

The Curious Power of a Plastic Hair Elastic

It started out like any other plastic coily hair elastic, just keeping my hair out of my eyes, or occasionally living on my wrist. But then it became a symbol of survival.

My red plastic coily was part of a giftbag I took home from my second ever #NYFW. Unlike a few of the other items in the goodie bag, it was immediately useful and practical. I had just moved to my dream city, New York, after years of struggles with anxiety, panic, depression, and the lingering physical aftermath of a serious concussion. Arriving in the city was a Big Deal in every way. I was thrown into a new job, a new home, and around millions of new people. I rented a room in the Bronx for a few weeks, working almost every day at a catering company. The little red coily became part of my uniform, helping me keep my hair in the tight bun style that my bosses required for catering gigs. Everything seemed a bit overwhelming, but extremely exciting too. And then it all spiraled out.

In the course of three days, I discovered the place I was staying had bed bugs, threw away most of what I'd brought with me (which wasn't much!), including a few items of extreme sentimental value, and most everything I'd gotten in my NYFW goodie bags. I threw everything that could be washed on high heat into a garbage bag and fled the Bronx, heading to Bushwick to stay in a place I'd found on for a few days. The red coily stayed on my wrist, a salvaged part of the good parts of living in this crazy city. My first night in Bushwick, my phone and laptop were stolen out from under my bed as I slept.

It was the typical NYC story. Girl from the suburbs moves to NYC with nothing but a couple bags, $400 and big dreams. Girl gets robbed and becomes almost homeless.Girl couch hops for weeks while living off ramen, bananas, and the free coffee at Trader Joes. Girl calls home crying to her mom on her $30 pay as you go phone she had to buy to replace her stolen phone. Girl cries a lot in general, but tries to be plucky at Macy's, where she's taken a job at a cosmetics counter. Girl somehow moves to Brownsville and almost gets shot.

I lasted until early January in the city. My sinuses were destroyed from getting sick three times in a row between December and early January. Seeing gun violence in person was enough to shake me out of thinking I could continue to live in Brownsville. My financial situation wasn't great. In a swift move, I decided to flee back to New Hampshire "just for a little while," to get healthy again and catch my breath. I brought that red coily with me, holding my hair back on the over night car ride from NYC to New Hampshire with my brother.

"A little while" stretched into months. Months stretched into seasons. I fell into the worst depression I've ever had, getting so low that I dragged myself to the doctor thinking I was suffering a serious physical ailment. I felt so exhausted all the time that I could barely function. This wasn't the light fatigue I had envisioned depressed people experiencing... this was such strong exhaustion that I felt as if someone was feeding me Benadryl in the water. It was a dark time. The red coily became a comfort blanket of sorts, because it reminded me I had lived in New York City, and had survived so much.

(The coily in happier times)

In summer, I took a job at the Starbucks in Concord, NH. The job, and the wonderful people I worked with, helped bring me out of the depression cocoon I had sunk into. Despite my fears that I might never be able to master the countless drinks that Starbucks offers, I soon realized I was actually.... good at the job! I loved my team, and I was earning decent money that I could save for going back to NYC. Every day that I worked, that red coily was on my wrist or in my hair, a visual and physical reminder of my goal: Get back to NYC.

We lost one of our customers while I worked there. He was a kind man who used to live in NYC, who loved it desperately and loved to reminisce about it. He once held my hand and said I had to go back to NYC, for both of us. When he passed away, I knew I had to work even harder to get back there for him.

In January of the following year, I was in Boston for a scifi convention when a friend connected me with another friend who knew someone with a room for rent in the city. Everything happened very quickly... from the time that I heard about the room until the time that I moved into it was a couple short weeks. And even though things went much smoother for this move, that red coily was still always firmly attached to some part of me. I wore it even with nice outfits, because I had become superstitious about leaving the house without it. A few times I thought I had lost it and almost panicked. Every time I found it, I thought, you can't lose it! It's your good luck charm!

A few days ago, as I took the coily out of my hair at work, it snapped. I felt like Samson when he lost his hair. My power was gone, leaking right out, all of my bravery and sense of adventure following after. The feelings of superstition were too strong to ignore, especially when I ended up running into an almost comically weird disaster that night. What would this mean? Had I really just lost what made me cool enough to move to NYC not once but twice? Was I really about to dissolve back into the girl I was years ago, when I was still too afraid to move, to start a new job, to even leave the house?

An NYC friend, upon hearing about my lucky charm breaking, had a different perspective. She said maybe I don't need that coily anymore. Maybe its job is finally done, after having gotten me through some tough times. Maybe those particular challenges had played all the way out, been resolved, and I didn't need to carry them around with me anymore. My best friend, a few hours later, agreed with that.

So I'm going to give it a few days, let things reset, and then go in search of my new coily companion. Maybe it'll be gold this time, shiny and optimistic for whatever comes next. And until then? I'll be like Dumbo, and learn how to fly without my magic feather, cheered on by friends and family who believe in me.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Makeup Recommendation: Cover FX Custom Enhancement Drops

There haven't been too many makeup products in the last couple years that have truly surprised me... but Color FX managed to do exactly that! It's pricey, but this product is something special and new, and I truly believe all makeup lovers need to try.

In a variety of colors, the mostly golden-toned drops make all skin tones look fabulous, glowy, and young... and even better yet? All it takes is a drop. Really! A small drop of this, mixed on my oval brush with my foundation, and wow. It makes your foundation go further, and it makes your skin look perfect! 10/10, would recommend. Buy at Sephora:

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Mermaid Parade 2017

This year was my first ever Mermaid Parade! I had so much fun attending with my friend Charlotte and some friends. It might also be the first time I've ever actually shown up to a party wearing LESS glitter than everyone else! Seriously, this is one of the most glittery events I've ever seen!

Below are some pictures from the parade. Have you ever been?

Monday, June 19, 2017

Welcome back!

As you've probably noticed, I've been very busy since February. I relocated back to NYC, had a book come out, and have been working hard to finish two other books. It's been a crazy, but exciting time! Apologies for how long it's been between posts, but I do have some exciting content to share with you in the coming months leading up to NYFW17.

Feel free to comment with which kinds of posts you like seeing best... interviews? Product reviews? Fashion talk? Makeup talk? Let me know!

Thursday, February 9, 2017

MUA February: Jamie Lynn Maynard

Your name: Jamie Lynn Maynard
Your IG: @jlynnmaynard
Your Twitter: JamieLMaynard1

Where are you from? Mount Pleasant, MI

What made you fall in love with makeup and beauty? What made me fall in love with the beauty industry (makeup and beauty) is the fact that it allows so many people to truly be themselves. However you feel that day you can create a look that perfectly represents what you are feeling at that exact moment in time.

What is your go-to moisturizer? Allure Medical Spa's Face Silk. It is an amazing moisturizer that I purchase at my plastic surgeon's office in Shelby Township, MI. 

Matte lips or lip gloss? Matte. I like a glossy lip once in awhile but I need longevity in my line of work (professional Hairstylist\Makeup Artist).

What time period in beauty do you most wish you could live in for  a few days? I would love to go back to the 60's and 70's when the mod look was really in. Big doll eyes, intense graphic winged liner, simple flawless clean complexion, just a touch of color to the cheeks. I love those looks.

Favorite beauty IGs to follow: @mua_underdogs @jamiegenevieve @jaclynhill @itslilchaos

Best way for fans to keep up with what you're doing? To follow all my social networks. I try really hard to update all of them, so my followers and subscribers know what is going on in my life right at that moment. I upload my YouTube once or twice a week, but I'm constantly posting throughout the day to my IG and Twitter

What is your advice for plus sized fashionistas who want to look and feel fabulous? Be comfortable in the skin you're in. I may not be plus sized but I am a size 8/10 and I do crossfit. Being a girl with thicker thighs and a voluptuous booty really can make me feel like I am on the outside of what is acceptable. I do feel now, any size, shape, and color is acceptable and if you are confident in the skin that you are in and love yourself, the entire world is going to love you back. Be unapologetic about who you are, because being you is what matters most.

What can we do, right now, to make the world a better place? Let go of being so judgmental. We are sadly a world right now that will take something so small that someone said or did and cut them into as small of pieces as we can. We need to stop doing that. We need to come together as a community and build each other up. And always give constructive criticism to help people become better and grow as a person, instead of beating them down and making them go back into their shell. We have created so much hate, and it's time to create more love and support. 

What's your favorite...
Red lipstick? Jeffree Star Cosmetics Designer Blood
Song, currently? Lukas Graham You're Not There
Website for buying beauty? Sephora, Ulta, and a lot of the smaller independent brands like Lime Crime, Gerard Cosmetics, and Jeffree Star Cosmetics
Nail polish? Harmony Gelish Gel Polish in the shade Twinkle

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

MUA February: Tory Barefield

Your name: Tory Barefield
Your IG: @torybarefield_makeup
Your Twitter: I don't have twitter!
Where are you from? Texas!

What made you fall in love with makeup and beauty?
I've always loved things all makeup and beauty. My mom and older sister definitely were a huge influence on my makeup journey.

What is your go-to moisturizer?
High end- Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion+
Drugstore- Neutrogena Oil Free Moisturizer for combination skin.

Matte lips or lip gloss?
I love the look of matte lips!, but hate the feeling! So definitely glossy!

What time period in beauty do you most wish you could live in for a few days?
The 60's! I love everything about the mod makeup, fashion, and even hair!

Favorite beauty IGs to follow:

Best way for fans to keep up with what you're doing?
Definitely snapchat or Instagram. My snapchat is tory.barefield

What is your advice for plus sized fashionistas who want to look and feel fabulous?
Fuck what society claims is beautiful. It's YOUR body, your happiness. KEEP DOING YOU!

What can we do, right now, to make the world a better place?
End the hate. End the violence. We as people, shouldn't be afraid to walk down
the street solely because of our race, religion, or sexuality. It's sickening.
What can we do right now to make the world a better place? Love. Learn to love

What's your favorite...
Red lipstick? I hate red lipstick!
Song, currently? I can't name just one song. I listen to everything from rap, to pop, to country, to 90s boy bands.
Website for buying beauty? Sephora or Ulta, they have everything!
Nail polish?
OPI "To Be Continued..."
OPI "Rose Against Time"
OPI "In Pursuit of Purple"
OPI "Withstands The Test of Thyme"
... anything by OPI.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

MUA February: Natasha Katrina

Your name: Natasha Katrina
Your IG:@makeupbynkc
Your Twitter:n/a

Where are you from?
Miami, FL

What made you fall in love with makeup and beauty?
I fell in love with the art of makeup when I was about 8 or 9 years old, and I was watching my mother apply makeup to herself and her friends. I loved the creativity it allows you to have, but even more, I love the empowerment and confidence you feel knowing you've artistically expressed yourself. To me, makeup even in its simplest and purest form can evoke an emotion. And the community surrounding makeup artist is so encouraging and bountiful. I fell in love with the art, the community, and the soul behind makeup. 

What is your go-to moisturizer?
My all time favorite is Purpose, it's my hidden secret! Hypoallergenic, non-scented, and very light spf gives me everything I need, and even blends great with my foundation palette for my clients. 

Matte lips or lip gloss?
Ughhhhh so hard!! I'm from Miami, FL, so clear gloss is EVERYTHING to some of my Latina friends and family. As I've grown as an artist, I have an equal appreciation for a fierce matte lip and mayyy apply a quick shine at the end. Can't get enough.

What time period in beauty do you most wish you could live in for  a few days?
Although I love the NOW of makeup, as we as a community have evolved and become so progressive with trends and support different ideas of what is "beautiful", I do wish I could spend a few days in the mid-century era, the 1950's. With one of my all time favorites, Ms. Marilyn Monroe, and the love of a fuller body image on the big screen. 

Favorite beauty IGs to follow:
I just LOVE Huda Beauty!! I follow many, so it's hard to pick a true favorite, but bold and glamorous and then clean and modern are my favorite style to follow.

Best way for fans to keep up with what you're doing?
I'd love for fans to follow this amazing journey through my instagram, @makeupbynkc and my FB page @makeupbynkc. Website launch coming soon!!! 

What is your advice for plus sized fashionistas who want to look and feel fabulous?
BE FABULOUS!!!! I AM a plus size fashionista and I say in order to feel beautiful, you have to believe that you ARE beautiful ! Embrace the curves; imperfections in our lives are what make us unique. Slay no matter your size and charge the rest to the GAME! 

What can we do, right now, to make the world a better place?
We need to be compassionate. In this day, so many emotions and opinions are shielding the ultimate golden rule- do unto others as you would want to be done to you. Have compassion for those who are less tolerant, as fighting combat with combat will lead us nowhere. Stand for what you believe in and remember the change comes from within, and starts with just one person. 

What's your favorite...
Song, currently? Flute Down, Karl Denson- it's so random but a big dance party. Imagine Ron Burgundy meets Bruno's instrumental band!
Website for buying beauty?
Nail polish? Essie, Lady Godiva (my go to winter color). Summer is Essie, Fiji.

Monday, February 6, 2017

MUA February: Eva KB

Your name: Eva KB
Your IG: ekbsmakeupdiary

Where are you from?
Montreal, Canada 

What made you fall in love with makeup and beauty?
When makeup was first becoming popular on social media 6-7 years ago, I spent all my time watching videos and practising! This is what brought me to get a professional education in the field! 

What is your go-to moisturizer?

Matte lips or lip gloss?
Matte lips 

What time period in beauty do you most wish you could live in for  a few days?
1920, but I appreciate the now so much more since we have the freedom to try pretty much anything in a far more accepting world! 

Favorite beauty IGs to follow:
dominiquedlr is forever my inspiration! 

Best way for fans to keep up with what you're doing?
My IG :) 

What is your advice for plus sized fashionistas who want to look and feel fabulous?
There are some amazing plus sized creators on IG who rock their beauty and style! Beauty and confidence doesn't have a body type! 

What can we do, right now, to make the world a better place?
Share positivity with people! We are always so focused on criticism, especially in the beauty industry, but complimenting and focusing on what you find beautiful can have a huge positive impact in your own life, but also in the lives of others! I challenge you all to compliment a stranger at least once a day

What's your favorite...
Red lipstick? Drop Dead Red by too faced
Song, currently? Go off, MIA
Website for buying beauty? Sephora or indie brands
Nail polish? I do my own nails and I'm loving the chrome powders right now!

Sunday, February 5, 2017

MUA February: Marijana

Your name: Marijana
Your IG: @makeupbymaryjana

Where are you from?

What made you fall in love with makeup and beauty?
I really don't have a moment when I thought that I should do make up, I have loved it always. Even when I was a little girl I looked up makeup videos and copied them on my friend; I was about 10 and she was 8. I did things such as smokey eyes even though I did not have the right stuff, but I enjoyed doing it. Then I had a boyfriend (when i was 16) who didn't like it, so I didn't do it anymore. After a while I started following more makeup accounts, and really liked how they do contouring and all, so I thought, lets give it a try. I found out I was pretty good at it, so I kept doing it. My bf didn't like it, and after a while we broke up. Now I am 2 years further and I've improved my makeup skills, and I love it more now. I've been doing makeup on that same friend I mentioned before, and it's really nice to see how I've improved. I love the reactions people have when I do their make up.

What is your go-to moisturizer? 
A moisturiser from Yves Rocher with calendula. I LOVE it

Matte lips or lip gloss?
I prefer matte lips over glossy lips because I don't think (glossy) suits me.

Favorite beauty IGs to follow:
My fave IG's to follow are: @hudabeaty (bc she's a legend) and @fiercesociety (obv) and @bretmansvanity because I just love that page.

Best way for fans to keep up with what you're doing?
My Instagram

What is your advice for plus sized fashionistas who want to look and feel fabulous?
My advice for plus size fashionistas is just to not give a f. Like, what is plus size?! I just like food. Just put on makeup and gloooww. Be fab, no advice needed.

What can we do, right now, to make the world a better place?
We can do nothing. I believe the world is f'd up and we can't change that ever, but you just gotta make it the best for you, and the people you influence/hang with, and your family. And for the rest of the world, you can't actually do anything. Whenever I can make someone's day better, mine's automatically better too. I just try and be nice to everyone; my rule to life is just give what you get. And on social media, if I get negative comments, I won't look after it, because people will always be jealous or negative. You can't really do anything about it.

What's your favorite...
Red lipstick? Deborah Milano atomic red matte lipstick in shade "07"
Song, currently? m.A.A.d. city - Kendrick Lamar
Website for buying beauty? Sephora
Nail polish? I don't wear nail polish because it's not allowed at school. I'm in school for health care, so I can't wear nail polish :'(

Saturday, February 4, 2017

MUA February: Tiarna Ellen

Your name: Tiarna Ellen
Your IG:
Personal: @inspiringcamelsofmilwaukee,
Business: @classbytiarnaellen
Your Twitter: @inspiringcamels

Where are you from? Originally the Riverland, South Australia but currently in Adelaide.

What made you fall in love with makeup and beauty?
Having been involved in dance lessons since I was six, I guess I've been wearing makeup from a very young age. I just love the creativity of it. Anything creative, I'll give it a go.
YouTube reignited my love for it. I think the first video I watched was from Lindy from BubzBeauty, soon followed by Pixiwoo, who I still watch regularly. I truly am inspired by YouTubers who are in the industry themselves and have been for years, like Sam and Nic, as well as Lisa Eldridge.

What is your go-to moisturizer? 
Body Shop Seaweed Oil-Control Gel Cream for the face, and Physiogel Hypoallergenic Daily Moisture Therapy Cream for body

Matte lips or lip gloss?
It depends on the look you are going for. If it's bold, I like it matte so it doesn't move. If it's nude, I think glossy is a lot more flattering. My favourite matte shades are Australis' Velouorlips Matte Lip Creams in N-Y-CEE (Red), DOO-BAI (reddish plum) and SHANG-HI (a dark, blue-based pink) and my favourite glossy lip is Anstasia Beverly Hills' Ligloss in "Vintage" over the top of MAC's lip pencil in "Spice". 

What time period in beauty do you most wish you could live in for  a few days?
I think the 40's had the most beautiful makeup. Rita Hayworth is a makeup icon for me! She was so beautiful, despite what she went through to look that way! She looked beautiful, naturally too.

Favorite beauty IGs to follow:
@zukreat, @spiffdup, @brianchampagne, @briannahlongo_mua, @keilidhmua plus many more.

Best way for fans to keep up with what you're doing?
Either follow my personal IG, my twitter, or you can subscribe to my YouTube channel, Tiarna Ellen. I make beauty videos and sometimes vlog if I've got an important event, or am on a weekend holiday.

What is your advice for plus sized fashionistas who want to look and feel fabulous?
Well, as someone who's not exactly thin myself, I just try to find what sits right on my bodyshape and try and rock that! It's your own individual style! x

What can we do, right now, to make the world a better place?
STOP THE HATE! Constructive criticism over put-downs. I think that'll make everyone's lives a lot easier.

What's your favorite...
Red lipstick?
Australis' Velourlips Matte Lip Cream in N-Y-CEE
Song, currently?
I'm a bit of a theatre nut. One of my favourite songs is "Self Indulgent Ballad" by Scott Garnham for the tongue-in-cheek humour and all the references. For mainstream, I love "Thinking Out Loud" by Ed Sheeran. Either that, or "Don't".
Website for buying beauty?
Sephora, Mecca Maxima or Beautylish
Nail polish?
The Sinful Colors (colours, because I'm Australian 😅) range. I usually like to have SNS nails, because my nail polish always chips quickly, otherwise. That's when I can afford it!

Friday, February 3, 2017

MUA February: Courtney Peterson

Name: Courtney Peterson
IG: @cocobeatit_
Twitter: @lavidecoco_

Where are you from?
I'm from Chicago, Il. 

What made you fall in love with makeup?
The versatility of makeup made me fall in love with it. The power that it can make people feel empowered, and show their beauty, also has been a major factor in my obsession with makeup. 

What is your go-to moisturizer?
My go to moisturizer is Nourish and Shine by Jane Carter. My skin is very dry and it gives me a lot of moisture and a silky feeling to my skin. Also it doubles for hair, and thats a wonderful bonus, because of my natural hair!  

Matte lips, or lipgloss?
Matte Lipstick is everything to me. I like when I can wear it all day and it doesn't feather on my bottom lip. And it is non-transferable ! 

What time period in beauty do you most wish you could live in for  a few days?
I will always say I wish I could've lived in the 1700's era of Marie Antoinette and King Louis. I absolutely love the pastel colors, the art and the SUPREME BLUSH! It's such a staple, along with the beauty mark. I know it's way different but I love studying that era in history! 

Favorite beauty IGs to follow:
My favorite Beauty IG's to follow are @celia_leslie, @aaliyahjay & @goldenbih 

Best way for fans to keep up with what you're doing?
Through my instagram @cocobeatit_ and my youtube which is @LifewithCourt. 

What is your advice for plus sized fashionistas who want to look and feel fabulous?
Find the silver lining in everything that happens. I love and accept who I am . I love to stay positive even when it doesn't seem like there is anything to smile about. I just do it. Stay fearless! 

What can we do, right now, to make the world a better place?
To make our world a better place, we should uplift ourselves. I feel that we should change the way the younger generation perceives us. I use my social media platform to show that there is more to me than showing my body. I believe as women we should be better role models and think before we act and change the perception that we only care about our outer features, rather than what's inside of us. Encourage each other more. Implementing positivity is always a must, and I feel we sometimes lack that whether we are male or female. It's essential that we all reach for higher standards for ourselves and do not settle for less than we deserve. 

Favorite red lipstick: BeautyByRudy Wildfire; it is perfectly pigmented and glossy lipstick.
Favorite song: Team by Lorde, I honestly keep her whole album Pure Heroine on repeat everyday.
Favorite website for buying beauty: No website, I prefer to be at a store seeing the product and swatching it. I don't like ordering online for any beauty related products unless I really have to.
Favorite nail polish: Currently chrome. Any color chrome, by the way. It's my favorite and it lasts so long without chipping, if done the right way. I get so many compliments too!

Thursday, February 2, 2017

MUA February: Carolann Smith


Your name: Carolann Smith 
Your IG: thesmithskeeper
Your Twitter:@carolannMUA16

Where are you from? Louisiana 

What made you fall in love with makeup and beauty?
I fell in love with makeup because of all the possibilities. I love transforming myself from an average joe to a flawless beauty. 

What is your go-to moisturizer?
 Elf daily moisturizer 

Matte lips or lip gloss?
Definitely matte lipstick! 

What time period in beauty do you most wish you could live in for a few days
Most definitely the 50's

Favorite beauty IGs to follow: trendmood, mannymua, nikkituotials, makeup by jack, amichellebeauty there's so many more, but too many to list. 

Best way for fans to keep up with what you're doing
I'm starting my YouTube channel soon!! Simplyaddicted will be my name! I plan on uploading a video a week and blog everyday I'm so excited but other then that, Instagram. 

What is your advice for plus sized fashionistas who want to look and feel fabulous?
Considering I don't see size, color, or gender when I think of someone looking fabulous I encourage all to just be confident in who you are. 

What can we do, right now, to make the world a better place?
Honestly we all need to get along! 

What's your favorite...
Red lipstick? Marc jacobs dashing 206 very cherry
Song, currently? Love on the brain - Rihanna
Website for buying beauty? Sephora is my go to! 
Nail polish? Opi gel

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

MUA February: Fern-Lianne Kent

Your name: Fern-Lianne Kent 
Your IG: Fern.Lianne
Your Twitter: Beautywithfern

Where are you from?
Suffolk, UK

What made you fall in love with makeup and beauty?
I absolutely love the confidence that makeup can give you and for me, it's time for yourself. Kind of like therapy. I had always had an interest in beauty so I went on to train in beauty as a profession. I love how you can make someone feel beautiful and confident. 

What is your go-to moisturizer? 
I actually really love Mario Badescu or Bravura moisturisers. 

Matte lips or lip gloss?
Definitely matte lipsticks. I can't stand my hair getting stuck to the lip gloss. 

What time period in beauty do you most wish you could live in for a few days?
 1950's - I love the effortlessness look. 

Favorite beauty IGs to follow:

Best way for fans to keep up with what you're doing?
My Instagram page

What is your advice for plus sized fashionistas who want to look and feel fabulous?
Size doesn't matter, there is beauty in everyone. The thing that you might not like in yourself, might be the exact thing that somebody loves about you. Embrace your differences. 

What can we do, right now, to make the world a better place?
Be kind, be positive and when you meet someone, find something to compliment them on. 

What's your favorite...
Red lipstick? Gerard cosmetics immortal liquid lipstick
Song, currently? Bruno Mars - Finesse
Website for buying beauty? Beauty bay! 
Nail polish? I use Gel polish, so I'd say The Gel Bottle. Inc

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Three Tips for Surviving Depression

Depression has long been an ugly, secretive dragon that has lurked in the shadows of humanity. It's also been an extremely misunderstood monster.

Pop culture has shown us extreme, cartoony versions of depression throughout the last few decades. We've seen the crying, the meltdowns, the chain-smoking. We've heard that depressed people need to light candles, get a dog, take a bubble bath, go to the spa, be thankful for what they have, stop complaining, look on the bright side, and generally, just stop. Some of this advice comes from professionals. Some of it doesn't. Anyone with depression has met at least a few people who don't suffer from depression, but have more than a little advice for people that do. It can feel like the motive behind all of this aggressive advice is "stop being depressed, it's bumming me out." It can become exhausting, and even more depressing, being told that we could cure ourselves if we just sniffed the right amount of candles... especially when we know that isn't true.

While this post only covers a few must-haves for surviving depression, please know it comes from a person who has and is struggling with depression too. These are tips that I've road-tested, and continue to use every day. I hope they can be helpful to you. You are not alone.

Movement: Movement is so important. I used to scoff at doctors who said that taking walks was good for depression, but that was before 2016. When depression hit me hardest, it took everything in my body to even get out of bed and complete small tasks at home. Suddenly, things like leaving the house, seeing friends, or working a shift at a retail job felt almost impossible. I was terrified of slipping back into the crisis state I'd been in after my concussion in 2008, and felt like I would never have energy again. Movement, walking, working out, working shifts at Starbucks... those things were what propelled me slowly back out of the weeks and months of sleepy, lifeless, hopeless existence.

Movement can come in any form you can handle. Make a small daily goal for yourself and try to stick to it, no matter what. The smaller the goal, the better chance you have of achieving it. The more you achieve goals, the better you'll feel. So start with something small, like walking to the end of your street and back once a day, or walking for ten minutes on the treadmill, or doing twenty jumping jacks a day. If you find that it's almost bedtime and you've missed your movement goal, don't give up! Do it then, anyway, even if it's late at night. If you absolutely can't, just be honest and direct with yourself. "I couldn't do my movement goal today. That's okay. I've been doing it every day, and I'll do it tomorrow." Then, with as much power as you have in you, try to forgive yourself and let it go. Guilt is not your friend, so try to banish it from your life.

Support system: Many people with depression feel alone. Depression is a strange, invisible, mythical condition that some people will never experience or understand. To them, depression looks like it does on TV... sad girls crying into ice cream when they have a breakup, dramatic crying episodes from unhappy wives, etc. But that is not always what depression looks like. It can be quiet, even silent, and it is almost always physical in ways that people without depression can't understand. Sometimes I have told bosses that I was sick, because it was easier to explain how little energy I had by saying I'd caught a germ, rather than admitting that depression/anxiety had gotten the better of me for a day. Depression can make you feel as exhausted as someone battling a flu, and anxiety can make you feel as sweaty, sick to your stomach, and weak as having a bad cold. So how can you handle those really awful days alone, when people don't understand what you're going through?

You shouldn't. You need a support system. Reach out to people online, reach out to friends, or people who are suffering from depression as well. Ask them about their experiences and advice. Reach out to a therapist, or a counselor. Find at least one person who you can be honest with, when you're feeling too depressed to complete a simple task, make a phone call, or handle an important matter. If you feel like you might be burdening your friend with this, ask them ahead of time if it's okay for you to reach out to them when you need a support system. Consider starting with, "I'm having a bad depression day. Can I tell you what's going on in my head right now?" If you start off this way, they can be honest with you about if they have time and energy to help you, and you won't feel like you are burdening them.

Kindness: This is a big one. Not everyone is naturally empathetic, but anyone who is suffering from depression knows how hard life can be. Fighting a monster like depression while also living in a kind, loving way can feel like a challenge. But doing things for other people can be both incredibly rewarding, and a great way to counteract the nastiness of depression and anxiety.

So much of depression revolves around guilt. There's guilt for why you're depressed, for when you're depressed, for the things that you miss because you're depressed, for the people you've let down, etc. Depression is one big ugly ball of guilt. A great way to shatter that guilt is with kindness and giving. Take time to send a nice message to a friend, even if it's something tiny. Send a link to a funny meme you know your friend will like. Pay for the person's coffee behind you at Starbucks. Say hello to an older person who looks lonely in line at the grocery store. Send a friend $5 as a surprise, just because. Volunteer at an animal shelter. Ask a friend if you can dog-sit for them for free, just to get some awesome dog-cuddling time in. Taking charge and helping someone else in their time of need can short circuit your own anxiety or depression temporarily, allowing you to concentrate on something outside of your own brain. Small acts of kindness help you to feel stronger, happier, and more connected with others. It also reminds you, even in a small way, that you are a good person, worthy of getting better and feeling better.

I hope these things help you. While this is a very short list, these are some of the most important tools I've used for fighting back at depression. If you need someone to talk to, you can reach out to me, or you should call 212-673-3000, or another crisis/depression hotline. Be good to yourself. Be kind to yourself. Be forgiving of yourself. You are not alone.

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