What I Learned Playing Animal Crossing: New Horizons for 600+ Hours

It’s been almost a year since my first Animal Crossing: New Horizons blog came out at 300+ hours. Since then, I’ve logged over 630 hours and have restarted my island not once but twice which brings me to my third and hopefully final island. I had thought that AC:NH was simply a game to help get me through the pandemic and hellscape that was 2020, but buddy, was I wrong. This last year has tested me to my absolute limits through losing friends, relationships, what I thought I wanted and what I thought I deserved. I’m happy to report that I am definitely on the other side of all of the negativity now, but one thing was always a constant – the happy, brightly hued island I could return to day after day when things were rough. 


Surely, you’ll say, there’s nothing left to learn in that game? You’re probably right, but here we are.


Your island (and life) is only as good as you make it.

Island no.3 has a fall/halloween theme as shown above.

Yes, this is an easy concept to understand but harder in practice. Over the last few months, I’ve been forced in some shape or fashion to really examine my life/island and decide what actually serves me. Like Marie Kondo says, does this bring you joy? The answer for a vast majority of the pieces of my life was no. Definitively no. I was sacrificing myself for others happiness and at the cost of my own sanity. Why continue adding bricks to the house when the foundations are crumbling? Why hold on to something that is dead and makes you miserable when you could just restart? Restart your island. Restart your life.


Don’t be scared by the big picture – take it one step at a time.

My first design zone on island no.3

I found that on island no.2 I was so overwhelmed by what could be that I struggled to bring anything to fruition. When I restarted on island no.3, I made a point to not think about the whole picture. Find a theme, a design, a color scheme even and just roll with it. I opted to spend my time making smaller areas look picturesque rather than throwing furniture all over the island just to level up. The same can be said about life or healing. You can’t tackle a large problem head on and expect an immediate fix – not often at least. Instead, focus on the small actionable problems that will reduce the size of the original. Don’t be overwhelmed by what could be or could have been – focus on what is.


A change of scenery is necessary.

A colorful exterior from Happy Home Paradise.

When moving through life and games, sometimes it’s easy to feel stuck. Unmoving. Unchanging. The easiest way to step out of this mindset? A change of scenery. Whether you rearrange your room, move to a new side of town or restart your island in a different hemisphere – there is always a way to shock the system towards change and growth. That’s not to say it isn’t hard or uncomfortable to make that decision – but it is necessary. You can’t change where you were squandered or deeply unhappy.

 


Surprises can exist around every corner.

A happy client from the Happy Home Paradise expansion.

I am not a huge fan of surprises, but a free update on Nov. 5 for AC:NH filled me with so much joy it was a little ridiculous. The addition of a cafe in the museum, dozens (if not hundreds) of new items to purchase, plus an expansion that mixes the best of AC:NH with Sims, what’s not to love? After 600+ hours, it’s easy to fall into the mundane checks and balances of keeping the island afloat – much like a long term relationship. The updated content helped to make me excited about the game again. Moments like this can happen in everyday life too – you just have to pay attention and be willing to accept it.


Do you play AC:NH? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!


A Podcast to Cure Your Seasonal Depression

It’s officially that dreaded time of year when we’re not only drained but potentially also experiencing SADness (Seasonal Affective Disorder). While the leaves turning from a lush green to a burning red can bring a level of satisfaction – who doesn’t love walking on those extra crunchy leaves? – this time of year can be equally difficult. Between cold weather, waning daylight and the impending holidays, we need something to help lighten the load. 

Candidly, I’ve always tried to like podcasts, but it wasn’t until I found this one that it truly clicked.

Meet Toni and Ryan

I first found the loud laughing Australian duo thanks to the handy Instagram algorithm and immediately fell in love with their back and forth style. Their quick wit and raunchy humor helps to add a warm glow to these chilly autumn days. 

Ever hear about the first date with a morgue attendant who forgot to take the body out of the back before picking you up? What about an endless supply of horrendous, cringe-worthy pick-up lines? If you ever just want to sit back and listen to your newest friends tell stories, this is the podcast for you. 
Not to mention, they started a challenge where they would eat one chicken nugget for every patreon subscriber in the month of October, thinking foolishly that they’d get maybe 50. 721 subscribers later, they were able to make a sizable donation to charity.



Do you have a fave podcast that instantly boosts your mood? Share with us in the comments below!


The Great Disappearing Act

TW // suicidal ideation, suicide, death, pills

What happens when someone disappears without a trace; what happens when they decide to reappear?

How are you expected to react; how are you supposed to feel? Are you allowed to even be upset? I asked these same questions of myself every day for two weeks. I also spent a lot of time emotionally tearing myself apart.

I had an amazing partner who took care of me during a very busy time and lacked personal space; he cooked and cleaned for me, and sucked it up when my dog burrowed between us in bed. He even almost had me consider having a child. Flash forward to when I tried to break up with my partner the first time, all of my friends knew it was coming. But when I decided to try the relationship again, I didn’t tell all of my friends in fear that they would shame me or ask me why the hell did I do that again. And of course, it was pretty good for a little bit, but I was starting to catch on that something was off [with him].

A few months ago, my partner had went to the Dominican Republic to follow protocol for his work visa. I hadn’t heard from him for two days and I grew extremely concerned. It wasn’t until the following Tuesday or Wednesday that he finally admitted he was assaulted by a group of men and had his money/passport stolen (but still had his phone).

Why did it take him so long to tell me?

I had to fight tooth and nail to find out before he told me what had happened. It was exhausting, but I got the answers I needed & told him to please never hide safety things like this from me; he’s too important for that.

This wasn’t the first time someone had disappeared on me; not even two months earlier, I was dating someone and they also seemed to have disappeared into thin air. So albeit I’m a strong, independent woman, I still have triggers such as that one that will drive me into a dark place.

Although I didn’t want to believe that it would happen again, it would; a few more times in fact.

The Fourth of July is always a joyous weekend right? Everyone getting shitfaced with their pseudo patriotism and all – everyone including my partner. He and his co-workers partied the entire 3-day weekend, and I hadn’t heard one peep from him at all. Was I mad? Yes, but only because I hadn’t heard from him – I truly wanted him to enjoy his holiday weekend.

It was all sorry’s and “I promise it won’t happen again, I just wasn’t paying attention, then I lost my phone.” And again, I took the bait and went with it. Then it came back up another weekend, I hadn’t heard from him for almost another 3 days. I was mentally unable to handle much more, so I sent, “I cannot do this anymore, I don’t feel loved and I don’t feel cared about.” It was a long weekend of fighting, drinking, and coming back together over tears and FaceTime. However, I should’ve REALLY paid attention to the signs & listened to my instincts at that point. But, the hopeless lover and romantic that I am, I couldn’t give up.

Once again, things seemed to steady and he returned to his home country to fulfill the work visa requirements once again. He was living 6 hours into the future, and it wasn’t the first time we dealt with this. It made things difficult in terms of communication, but damn it, we tried. We texted and FaceTimed when we were awake at the same time, and I’d watch him cook dinner during my lunch time. It felt like he was back in my kitchen while I was working away. There’s something comforting about hearing the sound of a knife hitting a cutting board and onions frying in the pan.

Everything was okay there for the first week and a half; then it became much more inconsistent.

It started with a day where he didn’t text at all, which is fine, you’re doing the things because you just got home. And he would sleep such long days, his sleep was all messed up (maybe jet lag, but he was supposed to be good by now), and I really should’ve known then what was going on. Then he began to read my messages but wouldn’t respond; at first it was just two days, then three… then four. Then it went a whole week and the next, still nothing of mine had been read. It would’ve been exactly two weeks I hadn’t heard from him. However, as things go, he miraculously turned up.

So back to the questions – how am I supposed to feel? Am I allowed to even be upset?

It was a casual moment, I had been texting friends – specifically, texting with one who had been talking about a cute girl she’s talking to, with another discussing how my apartment is trash, and sending a third friend a meme about ADHD. Then I felt my phone buzz and I looked to the top of the screen, there his name was beside the green icon. As he was sending more messages, I felt my throat crawling down my chest and into my stomach.

To put it bluntly, within his two week hiatus, I had to come to terms with the fact that he has either: died, went off on a binge, or decided that I wasn’t worth contacting anymore. But to my surprise, it was only one of them, more like almost one of them…

As a girlfriend, you hope to be the person that your partner goes to when they’re feeling downtrodden or depressed. But sometimes, that same person that you love and trust may not feel safe enough to express that.

I knew he had been extremely tired the past few months, but despite the hard physical labor, him sleeping in so much when he got back to his home country, that wasn’t normal. Him barely texting me was odd; and not to mention he had confessed to me he had been feeling really sad one night, but he said this when I was barely awake. Yet, when I asked about it the next day, he only read my message and never responded.

Today, I found out that cause of his two week disappearance: he tried to take his own life. He took too many stress relief pills and overdosed, but someone luckily found him.

And although I know this is not my fault, knowing that night could’ve been our last conversation we ever had was absolutely soul-crushing to learn. I almost lost someone and would have never even known that he was gone. Losing someone who I told a few times that I, myself, had been feeling dark like that, would have ended me. So I have to ask as well, do I have the right to be angry? To be honest, I don’t even know how I am supposed to feel. I don’t get to be angry that he disappeared, I don’t get to be angry that I sat for two weeks questioning who I was and what I did. I don’t get to be upset that I was given less than an hour to digest two weeks of pain and confusion.

Now, I want to come back around and briefly talk about men’s mental health, specifically suicide awareness.

The 2019 statistics below come from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention website and were collected by the CDC:

  • 47,511 Americans died by suicide
  • There were an estimated 1.38M suicide attempts
  • Men died by suicide 3.63x as often as women

For the friends and family members who are concerned for their loved ones, reach out with something more than “I am here for you, I will listen to you.” Try something more like, “What can I do for you?… What can I provide for you?… I’m dropping off some snacks/food/movies/games that I remembered that you love at your door. I respect your space, but I am here to invite you out to wxyz thing if you would like to join me…

And lastly, I want to say this: if you are in pain, if you’re feeling alone, if you feel like you have no other options – please remember, you are not alone, you are loved and worthy of love, you are wanted, you are seen, and you matter.


Suicide Hotlines:


Phrases to Push You Forward

Each day I come closer to better understanding myself. Every day, I get a better idea as to what truly motivates me, what truly peeves me, and most of all how to cope with these realizations and apply them to being a better version of myself. I’ve found that self-actualization is the epic learning curve of life.

I mean, Sheryl Crow says it best, “Everyday Is a Winding Road”

Most recently, I’ve grasped that niceties, frequent compliments, telling me, “Awe it’s going to be okay” – none of that motivates me, none of that means anything to me. It will go in one ear and out the other, the same as when someone apologizes to me. When someone apologizes to me, just the simple word, “sorry” has me shut down. I’m not listening to you anymore, I’m taking your words with a grain of salt, they mean nothing. You’re sorry? Cool story, bro.

I’ve understood that I’m very actions-based (my love language is acts of service obvi), and the only time words motivate me are when they’re unexpected or blunt. But nothing motivates me more than someone telling me I can’t do it.

Some phrases in particular, mantras if you will, that I’ve found myself saying on a loop in my head, that push me forward:

Pick your pain.

This phrase comes from Mark Manson’s book, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life. I read this book in January and this is the phrase that has stuck with me since. When I’m having an exceptionally terrible day, thinking about quitting everything and shipping off to live off the land as a hermit… I remind myself that pain, hinderance, it’s everywhere. It’s the biggest sign of life. You can’t get away from it, but you can pick the pain you want, choose which pain is most manageable.

I usually follow up this mantra with, “The devil you know.”

Cheat death.

This came from graffiti I saw on my way to work one day. I was having a super rough morning, one of those, “I need to take a mental health week…” type of days, and there was something about seeing this phrase that just gave me the kick in the ass I needed that day. Like hell yeah, let’s cheat death today, gurl.

I’m doing it for me.

There are times when someone takes ages to complete a task, and I’ll find myself annoyed AF and just do it for them. I’m pissed the whole time, adolescently slamming things and huffing as I do it, “Why am I doing this for them, they don’t do it for me.” Then one day it just clicked: They’re not doing it for me, and I’m not doing it for them. I’m doing the damn thing for me. In order to make myself more at peace, this task needs done ‘now’ – so I will do it just to bring myself some peace.

Sometimes I need to make a selfless situation feel selfish in order to boost my mood, it is what it is.

No one’s coming.

I recently came across this video about parenting yourself and it hit hard, because it’s true. As an adult, no one is going to come and force you to go on a walk, force you to go to bed at a certain time, and no one is going to tell you that microwavable mac and cheese is not dinner. No one is going to just automatically come and help you. And I’m not telling you that you’re alone in life, but if you do need help you have to ask for it.

It’s not personal.

I’ve typically always taken everything personally. If someone says an idea I have is stupid, I think that they’re telling me I’m stupid. If someone yells at me on the phone, because of something I can’t control, 8 times out of 10 I’ll start crying because they’re yelling at me. But it’s taken a long time, and I’m still working on it, to just not take things personally. Almost everything that anyone does, isn’t personal to you but it is personal to them – so leave it that way.

Not everything is about you. You aren’t stupid, but maybe your idea isn’t as well thought out as you envisioned (and that’s okay.) The person screaming at you on the phone is definitely just mad at the situation it puts them in – it has nothing to do with you (they don’t even really know you.)


What’s important is to understand what type of communication is most effective for you, the above phrases may be completely toxic to you and get you in a negative headspace. You have to sort that out for yourself. I’ll say it again: self-actualization is the epic learning curve of life.

Why Twenty One Pilots Should be a Part of Your Playlist

I’m confident that at some point over the last decade you’ve heard a song by Twenty One Pilots, made up of Tyler Joseph and Josh Dun. It may have been Heathens from the less-than-awesome Suicide Squad soundtrack or maybe Stressed Out that played all over the radio in the summer of 2015. With the newest album release only a week old – this is why you should have Twenty One Pilots on your playlist.


Genre Bending Music 

TØP started out a rural, hometown band from Ohio playing small venues for a dedicated legion of fans. The first two large scale albums, Regional at Best and Vessel, were raw, rough and full of angst. Since the band’s beginning in 2009, they have ventured into rock, punk, rap, hiphop, alternative, electronica and more even winning a Grammy for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance for Stressed Out in 2017. 

When it comes to live shows, there’s something amazing about the expectation and consistency from fans. I’ve seen three concerts, one from the Blurryface tour and two from Trench, and each time the comradery from fans is inspiring. They know the tours like the back of their hand, provide interactive paper cut outs to use at certain times and are all around – so great. TØP is also consistent. They never do encores, they always end the show with Trees. It’s a comforting experience.


Mental Health Struggles

I know that there have been mixed feelings about this but I really do appreciate the level at which Tyler shares his struggles. Most apparent during the earlier albums, Tyler pulled a lot of the creative inspiration from his own struggles with depression and anxiety. Hell, Blurryface is a literal personification of his anxiety. It’s realistic, honest and something that almost all of us can relate to. Even the newest album, Scaled and Icy, is said to represent being scaled back and isolated due to the pandemic. (Or is it a cover and really means Clancy is dead? #dema) 


The Dema/Trench Lore

If there’s one thing I’m a sucker for, it’s good storytelling. I won’t even pretend to know absolutely everything about DEMA or TØP lore, but boy am I a fan. Mentioned briefly in the Blurryface album (2015), DEMA is a terrible, prison-like place. During the hiatus between Blurryface and Trench (2018), a clikkie found a new 404 page on the TØP website, which include diary pages from someone named Clancy, along with graphics that would later be revealed as clues to the songs on Trench. In the first three music videos released for Trench, Jumpsuit, Nico and the Niners and Levitate, viewers see Tyler and Josh struggling in DEMA, being captured by one of the ‘Bishops’. 


The Quarantine Bop To End All Bops – Level of Concern

As the world was thrust into a pandemic and consequential lock down, our favorite guys released the ultimate quarantine bop – Level of Concern. It was as if they knew that the world needed something positive and upbeat during such a shit storm. Not to mention the 24 hour long interactive livestream where fans could post their own videos. 

Following up the livestream was an interactive puzzle for fans to try to decode. Designed to take up to six weeks to crack, fans a.k.a. The Skeleton Clique or clikkies figured it out in under a week. The puzzle included never before seen photos, graphics, audio recordings and more than anything – a distraction during lock down. 


Each Album Is An Absolute Masterpiece In Its Own

I know, I know, you’re probably thinking ‘damn she drank the kool-aid.’ Maybe I have, but I also know that I’ve been listening to this band for nearly a decade now and have not been let down once by their music. The first song I heard by TØP was Car Radio on 89.1 The Bash (a community college radio station from Illinois that only could be heard on good weather days). I was immediately caught by the intense lyrics, the interaction with the music – all of it. Everytime a new album comes out, I listen to it on repeat – deciding if it’s as good as the predecessors. Every time, without fail, that answer is yes. The newest album, Scaled and Icy, released this month and is full of bops. 


Looking for something deep and tragic?

Try these!

Looking for something light and fun?

Try these!

Looking for fantastic covers or videos to watch? Try these!

Ways to Fight Your Anxiety Demon

**DISCLAIMER: I am not a medical professional, but just someone who’s suffered for years with anxiety and has come out on the other side mostly unscathed. Always seek the advice of a medical professional first.


I first started having severe anxiety problems when I was about 14. I distinctly remember being at my grandmother’s house on vacation with my mom and experiencing what I thought was just shortness of breath, which turned out to be a full blown panic attack. I wasn’t knowledgeable enough to be able to say, “Oh yeah, that’s anxiety”. Instead, I ignored it and said my back hurt. For years, the physical symptoms of anxiety plagued me without any real thought towards it. My most common symptom was muscle spasms in my mid and lower back that made breathing nearly impossible. This would strike at seemingly random times, often when I was no longer ‘worried’ or ‘anxious’ and on one occasion took me all the way to urgent care.

The first time I had the can’t-catch-your-breath-pacing-around-like-a-weirdo attack was while working at my local movie theater. I was working the concession stand, which is essentially a long rectangle with a stock room in the back. It was a midday, boring shift but something triggered me. Maybe an ex came with their new beau? Maybe a surprising text message? Who knows, surely I don’t remember now. But what I do remember is pacing, panicking and meticulously counting the concrete blocks that formed the managers/box office right ahead of me. Over and over and over again. One. Two. Three. Four. Five. Six. Seven. Eight. And again. And again. And again. Why eight? I don’t know honestly. Maybe it was from dance lessons as a kid or maybe something about eight just resonates with me.

But in the end, something had to give. After a breakdown call to my General Physician who referred me to a psychiatrist, I was diagnosed as high-functioning panic disorder and prescribed therapy and medication. I first went to therapy my second year in college when I realized that what I deemed my ‘crazy’ was affecting those around me negatively. I’d had some latent realizations of trauma from my past and it hit me like a freight train at 19. Therapy was amazing for me, but that isn’t a universal experience. From a spasmodic 14 year old girl to now, over a decade later, here I am kicking it with my Anxiety Demon like I would a friend. I’ve learned a lot of tips and tricks over the years, so here they are. I hope they can at least provide a reference if not a helpful trick or two to anyone else that suffers.


Learn the early signs

The tightening in your chest, the tunnel vision, the suddenly-fuzzy hearing, the rush of heat to your face and neck. Learning the early signs of an anxiety attack can be the most crucial thing. By learning the trigger signs, you may be able to slow or completely avoid a panic attack. That’s how I was able to truly control my little Anxiety Demon – because I figured out how she operated. As soon as I feel those few rushed heartbeats, I take deep breaths and try to relax. Normally, whatever I’m worked up over doesn’t really matter. 

Don’t mix medication and caffeine

I learned this the hard way one night while working at the local haunted house. I took my prescribed medication because I was panicking – then immediately chugged a Monster Energy drink because I was tired. BOY – was that the worst idea. Never in my life have I felt what my body felt during the next hour after drinking that energy drink – I could feel my heart palpitating in slow motion. (In general, high levels of caffenation will make your anxiety worse no matter what, so be careful when engaging with coffee, energy drinks, etc. if you’re not used to it). 

Find something simple and stupid that soothes you

When I started out, counting made me feel better for some reason. I have no history of OCD or any other numbers related ailments, but counting my breath, counting the ceiling tiles, counting the steps it took to get around a building mid-attack was comforting and soothing. A lot of relaxation apps will have you count your breath as a wind down activity, so there must be some reasoning to the numbers. I also used to run my hands under cold water, especially if I had an attack while working. I wanted to cool down – bring my senses down – as quickly as possible. I wanted to extinguish the fire roaring in my head and chest and by running cold water on my hands, it almost immediately brought a sense of ‘Oh yeah, I’m back now’.

Just know, as it starts it will also stop

One of the toughest things about anxiety is that you truly do believe that you will die. That you will always feel this way. That you will never be able to have a deep breath ever again. But that’s the thing: anxiety is just a mental block. It will stop, you will breath again, you just have to let it either pass or run it course naturally. You can create a mantra to remind yourself of this during the attacks or just let yourself feel the flow and know that it will end. 

Create a safety net

Whether it’s an aromatherapy inhaler, special bubble bath or your favorite food, create a small cache of things that make you feel better or grounded. I carried an aromatherapy inhaler in my purse for years that my grandma gave me after my first panic attack. I still have it and occasionally use it when I’m feeling full of lightning. Certain scents are good on the senses and can help you unwind like lavender, jasmine, bergamot and chamomile. 

Download apps or find books to help

These days, I’m sure you find yourself mindlessly scrolling social media, creating an even worse social anxiety experience for yourself like we all do. Sometimes taking a break from social media while staying connected to your phone can help. I’m a personal fan of Candy Crush (proud level 644) or a meditation app like Headspace. Not a phone person? Never fear, books are here! Over the last year, I’ve built quite the arsenal of books to help me understand my issues. From Emotional Detox to First, We Make The Beast Beautiful, there are plenty of books worth checking out about emotions and anxiety.

Talk to someone

The easiest way to come down from a panic attack is to discuss it with someone. When you’re walking someone else through the panic and fears you have, it may be easier to realize how outlandish or wild they are. Whether it’s your therapist, a friend, or a partner/spouse, talking it out can release the hold that your Anxiety Demon has on you. It can ease the tension while allowing you space to breathe. 


If you or someone you know is in immediate danger due to depression, contact 911. If you or someone you know is in need of support, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255); En Español 1-888-628-9454 or text “HELLO” to 741741 the Crisis Text Line.

It’s OK To Be SAD

SAD – Seasonal Affective Disorder, commonly known as Seasonal Depression, gives the phrase, “Same shit different year,” a whole new meaning.

According to the Mayo Clinic, SAD is a type of depression that’s related to changes in seasons — it begins and ends at about the same times every year. For most people, symptoms start in the fall and continue into the winter months, sapping your energy and making you feel moody. Less often do people experience SAD in the warmer months, but it still happens!

Fall and Winter SAD

Symptoms specific to winter-onset SAD, sometimes called winter depression, may include:

  • Oversleeping
  • Appetite changes, especially a craving for foods high in carbohydrates
  • Weight gain
  • Tiredness or low energy

Spring and Summer SAD

Symptoms specific to summer-onset seasonal affective disorder, sometimes called summer depression, may include:

  • Trouble sleeping (insomnia)
  • Poor appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Agitation or anxiety

The Mayo Clinic also firmly encourages, “Don’t brush off that yearly feeling as simply a case of the “winter blues” or a seasonal funk that you have to tough out on your own.”

It’s always startling to me how controversial therapy is. Over the years I’ve heard so many people say, “No, therapy is not for me. Tried it once and nope.” or the quip of, “I don’t need therapy” or even therapy being labeled as liberal poppycock is another quip that has the eyes rolling to the back of my head.

I have a very firm belief that anyone who hates therapy simply hasn’t had a good therapist. It’s so important to find the right therapist for you, therapist shopping is a thing! A sucky tiresome thing, I’ve learned in my adult life, but necessary.

The concept of therapy has never been taboo for me, it’s always been a common party of life and conversation – talking about going to see a therapist is as casual as talking about a trip to the mall, or a more accurate comparison is saying you’re going to the doctor for just a checkup to make sure all the parts are running the way they should.

I’ve been seeing a therapist since I was seven or eight years old. My mom had started seeing Suzie shortly after my parents divorced, but my sister and I weren’t brought in for a family session until a few years into my mom’s therapy journey. After one visit with Suzie, we began yearly visits until sometime in high school when it became abundantly clear I wasn’t doing ok and needed more frequent visits. Essentially, I have a habit of bottling up emotions and carrying the weight of the world on my shoulders. I hate sharing or opening up, because I feel my problems are mine alone to bear, I don’t want to put them on anyone else.

But talking with Suzie became a such an outlet, and I will say – it was an incredible bonus that she was regularly seeing my mom, my sister, and even some other family members. This meant I never had to do a lot of the background family deep dive you usually do with a therapist – she already knew the deep rooted family problems and how they trickled into my psyche. Every visit with her was always this much needed cathartic release of emotion I had kept tightly sealed… she’s a blessing, honestly.

As I got older, moved away for school and what not, I still would hit a point about once a year where I’d be like, “DRIVING UP TO ANDERSON BECAUSE I NEED SUZIE!”

It took probably the second year of me only coming to see her in the dead of winter where she’s like, “Emily, I’m pretty sure you have seasonal depression.”

I was quick to respond, “No, no – I’m sad year round remember?

But she explained it, that yes overall I struggled with mental health, but my lowest points where I seem to be unable to take it anymore happen the same time every year – nearly without fail.

I still had a hard time agreeing with her, mainly because winter is my favorite time of the year, I love Christmas, I adore the snow (I swear I can smell it coming several hours before it actually snows), and I just love the coziness… there’s no way my favorite season would betray me so much. I couldn’t accept it.

But, she was right – it wasn’t really up to me to dispute the facts.

She also let me know that Indiana has some of the highest seasonal depression rates in the country, ranking number 3 overall!

Indiana 3rd in Google searches for seasonal depression | News Sun |  kpcnews.com
Source: KPCNews

Above is an image detailing states with the most google searches for seasonal depression – I think this graphic is most interesting because it shows how many people are wondering, “Do I have seasonal depression?” and looking into it; scouring WEB MD to see if their never-ending feeling of meh is normal. As you can imagine, seasonal depression, like clinical depression, often goes undiagnosed.

The ultimate “cause” of seasonal depression is unknown, but the Mayo Clinic says it could be:

  • Your biological clock (circadian rhythm). The reduced level of sunlight in fall and winter may cause winter-onset SAD. This decrease in sunlight may disrupt your body’s internal clock and lead to feelings of depression.
  • Serotonin levels. A drop in serotonin, a brain chemical (neurotransmitter) that affects mood, might play a role in SAD. Reduced sunlight can cause a drop in serotonin that may trigger depression.
  • Melatonin levels. The change in season can disrupt the balance of the body’s level of melatonin, which plays a role in sleep patterns and mood.

According to the National Institute for Mental Health, treatments for seasonal depression fall into four main categories that may be used alone or in combination:

  • Light therapy
  • Psychotherapy (this is talk therapy aimed to help develop coping mechanisms)
  • Antidepressant medications
  • Vitamin D

Light therapy may be the one to catch your eye (it certainly caught mine) and honestly it’s something that I had always been told about and it’s my mom and my aunt’s favorite form. The quick way to get some light therapy in high dosage is simply going tanning, which I know, I know, it’s not good for your skin. But I can tell you right now, when I excessively tanned throughout college, it always seemed to be the boost I needed that day.

That being said – there are non-harmful, safe for your skin, forms of light therapy available! Very Well Mind has compiled a list of the best light therapy lamps of 2020 – check those out and maybe invest, or ask for one for Christmas 😉

Over the years, the way that I’ve tried coping with SAD is to jam pack the winter months with activities. At work it’s the busiest time which helps, I try to make it where I get to see as many family and friends as possible, and then at the tail end of winter (that nasty February bit) is when it’s the absolute worst for me – so I always try to plan a trip abroad during that time. I find that for me the depression creeps in when I have idle hands and a dwelling mind, so I work hard to eliminate as many occasions as possible where the depression could take its hold.

Some days the depression still wins, making it hard for me to even leave my bed; but sometimes I do the winning and have great days – and that’s just the way it is. It’s a balancing act to get all those chemicals in your brain steady 🙂

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Ultimately, Seasonal Depression is real and not something to be taken lightly. It’s serious, don’t ignore it or brush it off – and don’t brush off your friends and family when they tell you they suffer from it. SAD can lead to serious issues like school or work problems, social withdrawal, substance abuse, suicidal thoughts or behavior, anxiety, eating disorders, and more.

Seasonal Depression is a real mental health issue, treat it like you would clinical depression, manic bipolar, bulimia, or literally any other mental health issue. Just because you don’t suffer the effects everyday, year round, does not invalidate the severity or the impact it has, or could have, on your life.

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If you or someone you know is in immediate danger due to depression, contact 911. If you or someone you know is in need of support, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255); En Español 1-888-628-9454 or text “HELLO” to 741741 the Crisis Text Line.

What I Learned Playing Animal Crossing: New Horizons for 300+ Hours

A true gift from this shithole year was Animal Crossing. Originally released in 2001, AC has been popular amongst audiences for almost two decades; releasing in the US in 2002. With over 40 million units sold worldwide and five spinoff games, there is clearly something for everyone to love and learn from Animal Crossing. 

The newest game, Animal Crossing: New Horizons, released worldwide in the beginning of 2020 on the Nintendo Switch, eight years after the previous AC game release. A perfect storm of social distancing and much needed entertainment brought AC:NH to new heights, with over 5 million downloads in the first month alone. So what’s so great about this game?

First and foremost, I am not an avid video game player nor am I a good video game player. I typically get bored after a few gaming sessions, having only completed two games prior (s/o We Happy Few and BioShock!). But I love AC:NH and have spent 310 hours playing over the last six months. This is what I learned while playing AC:NH. 

Game Premise 

You embark on a deserted island getaway and are able to create, morph and design your perfect island over time. You have residents that move to your island, along with shops, seasonal events and more to experience. Thanks to your raccoon overlord, Tom Nook, you start the getaway in debt, but don’t worry, you’re able to pay it off quickly. 

What I Learned

First Homesite; Island 1

Daily tasks are necessary – in the game and life.

As a person who’s struggled with heavy depression on and off for a decade, sometimes the essential tasks like cleaning, laundry or eating can be a burden. In AC:NH, your character is rewarded for doing simple things like picking up sticks, clearing weeds or chopping down trees. Being able to make a character push through mundane tasks made it a little easier to force myself to get out of bed and do laundry.


If you’re unhappy, restart.

New Campsite; Island 1

I spent almost 275 hours building an island which is roughly 12 full days. I received the coveted 5-star rating on accident at around 180 hours and was seriously unhappy. I really didn’t like my island – I started playing without knowing the purpose, creating a mismatched, haphazardly built island that I really wasn’t enjoying. So I restarted. Erased all that work and started over. That same principle can be applied to each of us every single day. If we’re unhappy with something – our attitude, mindset, exercise level, whatever – we can change that. Hit the restart button until you’re at ease and at peace with yourself. 


Everything changes and that’s okay.

Celebrating Summer; Island 1

You can build a perfect utopia from top to bottom, but inevitably something will change that you have no control over – like the seasons. AC:NH is set to recreate the seasons of your hemisphere, changing the available DIY crafts, ingredients and overall landscape of your island. This is not something that can be fought, but merely accepted. I do not enjoy change as a person, but playing this game has surprisingly made it a little easier to accept. (An overexaggerated reaction, but a good example nonetheless). 


Sometimes, people you love leave.

5-Star Status; Island 1

When you start your island, there are two other islanders who spawn with you. You’re able to interact with your islanders and swap gifts, etc. throughout the game. However, sometimes your islander will decide that it’s time for them to move on to another island. At first, I hated when islanders would want to leave – because I wanted them to stay with me. But just like in real life, sometimes you have to let people go so that they can be the best versions of themselves. Or alternatively, you need to let them go because they’re not good for you anymore (cough*Curlos*cough).


Just because my island looked different than others, doesn’t mean it’s bad.

Yoga by some trees; Island 2

A fun perk in AC:NH is that you’re able to visit other islands, deserted or inhabited, to trade or simply see a friend’s design. After watching a few of those 5-star island tours on Youtube though, I was feeling pretty dejected about my shabby island. Who cares? As long as I like my island and it functions for me, then it doesn’t matter. The same principle should apply to regular life too. Who cares if I’m not the same size, personality or type as someone else? It shouldn’t matter as long as I’m happy with myself. 


People can be jerks, but that doesn’t mean you should put up with it.

Turkey Day; Island 2

AC:NH contains over 400 characters that you could randomly meet or interact with. The characters are grouped by a personality trait: normal, peppy, sisterly, snooty, cranky, jock, lazy and smug. Snooty and smug villagers can be annoying to deal with, especially when they’re being rude towards other characters. You do have limited control of kicking people off the island if you so choose. There’s no reason to keep villagers or people in your life if they bring you down. Surround yourself with those who bring happiness. 


For anyone that’s looking to kill some time as we move towards another potential lockdown, maybe give Animal Crossing: New Horizons a chance. With bright colors, cute characters and a mostly stress-free gameplay, this can be a great escape for anyone experiencing heightened anxiety from lockdowns, COVID-19 or just the day to day stress of life. Spend your time fishing in lakes or growing flowers or diving for sea creatures.

What is Home?

I’ve never really stayed in one house for a long time. It partially comes with the territory of coming from a divorced family, not only the loads of back and forth between Mom’s and Dad’s, but also when one parent moves, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the other parent won’t move in the same time frame. By that I mean, separately parents may not move a lot, but when you combine it for the kids… it stacks up.

Looking to my mom, who coincidentally has moved a lot, with her I grew up in seven different houses, and with my dad I grew up in three different houses. Then when they were married, there is one house in my active memory. So we’re looking at eleven different houses I lived in from the time I was born until I graduated college. Speaking of college, you could even increase the places I’ve lived since I lived in the dorms throughout that time, and then my senior year a friend and I got an apartment off campus. I also did a semester in France which was a whole other type of living situation!

After reflecting on my adolescence, and now looking towards my adulthood – almost the minute I graduated college, I shipped up to NYC for an internship that turned permanent. Upon first moving to the city, I lived in a small sublet in Harlem and my room was literally the size of a twin size mattress. Two months later, my sublet was up and I moved to Chinatown for a little over a year and that was an experience! After that downtown escapade, I booked it back uptown to Spanish Harlem for a little over a year.

All sounds complicated and all over the place, right? Am I done yet? Am I getting to the whole purpose of this overshare yet?

Thanks to Miss Rona, things only get more complicated.

My lease was up in Spanish Harlem July 31st and the friend I planned to live with, Zoe, couldn’t move until October. So we were faced with two options:

  1. We find a place for August 1st and sublet until Zoe can move in.
  2. I go home – I’m working from home anyway, so why not spend some time at home, save some money, and move back to the city in the fall?

Two was the obvious option, but the not so obvious is the thing I had to ask myself – “Where is home?”

My nomadic mom is currently posted up in Pittsburgh, which isn’t too far from my uncle and papa along with many other family members. My dad is where he’s always been, in Kentucky, along with many family members. But then I have my nana and aunt and nearly all of my friends who are tucked away in Indiana.

So, again, where is home? Where do I go?

I essentially did what I always do, and that was split up my time and touch ground everywhere. Which definitely isn’t COVID Kosher, but I was essentially homeless, so sue me.

I did some time with all of my family and some friends – sprinkling my sass and two-cents along the way, lending an ear to those who needed it, and offering support when the situation called for it. It was nice to be “home” for a little while. But honestly, I couldn’t help but be hyper-focused on the term, “home“… what is it? Where is it? Do I have one, do I have many, or do I not have one at all?

My mom always says, “Home is where your mom is.”

But I don’t think home is that simple, or maybe it is.

I think home is a feeling. It’s something that comes natural, but it’s also something that can be manifested. For instance, both my grandparents houses always feel like home, the Catholic church I grew up in feels like home… but everywhere I’ve ever had my own room I’ve seamlessly created a notable “cozy-homey vibe” that gets riddled with compliments on how comfy it is.

It’s as if I’ve always understood that with a few adjustments, you can make anywhere feel like home. I have some things I always do, nearly as a reflex, whenever I settle in somewhere in order to make that place more comfortable – to make it mine.

1. Your bed is a sanctuary, treat it as such.

Make sure you have a bedspread that you like to look at, and honestly – the more pillows the better. Even if you only use one pillow to sleep – during the day have your bed coated in pillows. Those decorative sacks of fluff and feathers are so inviting, there’s no such thing as too much, I promise.

Once you like your bed – make it every single day. There was a time not too long ago where I didn’t make my bed everyday; I found I didn’t have time, what’s it matter, etc… I was full of excuses. But what was funny were the days that I didn’t make my bed in the mornings, I would almost instantly make it the minute I got home – because there’s nothing better than slipping into a freshly made bed.

Just respect yourself enough to make your bed in the mornings – respect the evening version of you who just spent a hard day at work and deserves a freshly made bed.

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2. You look at each wall more than you think, hang things that bring you joy and peace.

Think of every wall in your space as a mood board.

Fill each wall with pieces of art, photos, or shelves of knickknacks that evoke positive emotions. This is where you can put plants, real or fake, to encourage growth in your space and to feel grounded and connected with the earth. Fill your walls with whatever brings you peace and happiness.

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3. If it smells great, you’ll feel great.

I adore candles. I love them not only for the smell, but I enjoy even the simple flame. The sense of warmth I feel when I see the lit candle and then the scents that beginning coating the room, it brings so much instant peace. I love fall scents the most, like vanilla and hazelnut, but sometimes these scents don’t translate well in the summer. I found that my safe-ground is finding earthy candles that smell of amber and oud.

Go find your scent – be it floral, fruity, earthy, or fresh… find it and do what you gotta do to maintain that smell in your room. Be it candles, incense, oil diffusers, or wax warmers – just give your room a scent that you associate with comfort.

. . .

I’ll be honest, sometimes doing all of the above isn’t enough. You can go the whole nine yards on your space and still feel like a fish in the wrong bowl. Like you’re a pretty fish in a decked out aquarium, but you kind of miss your old bowl for some reason.

AKA -> homesickness.

All I’ve gotta say to that is to think long and hard on what you’re homesick for, what’s missing. Would you be happier back where you were? Or do you find you’re actually missing specific moments and feelings expressed in the old space?

I find that most of the time, my homesickness is for a time and not a place.

Once I realized this, it clicked that going home won’t fix anything, it won’t fix my homesickness. The only type of “going back” that will erase my homesickness is “going back in time” but that’s not possible, obviously. This type of homesickness can really only be healed by some intense self-reflection, maybe even some therapy, in order to dig up what the real root of the problem is and to truly understand what you’re missing. In realizing this, in understanding what it is exactly that you’re homesick for, you can then move forward and adjust what you must in order to find that mental balance and manifest your “home vibe”.

Ultimately, it’s important to understand that you are deserving of feeling at home wherever you’re living.

Talkin’ to You, Talkin’ to Me

I’m a sucker for cliches that can blanket statement a situation. I find that cliches have the same function as supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, except a bit more practical. For instance, something’s happened and you don’t know what to say, just give a sympathetic shrug and throw in, “All that glitters isn’t gold,” “What goes around, comes around,” or “Don’t cry over spilled milk.” But while I dig a good cliche, I also fully acknowledge that some are trash.

Like hold the phone, sticks and stones… I’m sorry, what?

If you ever think about saying “Sticks and stones…” to someone, of any age, just stop. Don’t even think of finishing the sentence. All this stupid sentence does is dismiss the feelings of the person you’re speaking to. I’ll say it right now, words hurt, and they can hurt bad.

Imagine you’re in a situation getting bullied, maybe it’s about something like the size of your nose or ears, your skin color, or maybe even the clothes on your back. Imagine getting bullied relentlessly by shit kids, imagine experiencing this, and the only thing you’re told on how to deal is either, “Oh, they’re just mean because they have a crush on you!” or the god awful cliche mentioned above about stupid sticks and stones.

It’s just wrong, it’s so wrong. Words have power, we should stop gaslighting people into believing otherwise. I wish I was taught at a younger age to call people out when they said hurtful things instead of being taught to just ignore them. Can you imagine what kind of place the world could be if we started calling out the haters earlier on in life?

Oof, gives me chills just thinking about a society that beholds fruitful communication.

Everyone and their brother has said this, but I’ll say it again – communication is so important. It’s vital to understand that when someone tells you that something you said hurt them, don’t fight them on this, just don’t. You cannot control the feelings and emotions of others. All you can do is accept their feelings at face value and try to earnestly understand where they’re coming from.

I’m over this whole, “They’re just words, we were only kidding!” thing, it’s not cute. Dismissing the feelings of others, essentially calling their emotions invalid… it’s not a good look.

When someone confides in you, opens up and tells you that your words hurt… embrace that dialogue. Ask them what exactly was said that hurt, and if after finding out you still don’t understand why it hurt them – be honest and ask them how you can do better. This is good communication, and trust me I get it, deep communication is hard and a lot of people suck at it – myself included!! But when you have the conversation and acknowledge the feelings of others as valid, you’re on a higher path, a higher frequency, of basic human decency.

It can be so groundbreaking once you fully acknowledge that words hold power, they can hurt, and you’re not being too sensitive. In fact, stop putting the word “too” in front of “sensitive”, your feelings are not too much, nor are they too little – they just simply are. What can also be groundbreaking is to not only accept the negative and toxic power of word, but to simultaneously embrace the positive uplifting power it has too. It’s clear that other people’s words can hurt you and that their love and compliments can lift you… but what about your own words? Do you realize that how you talk to yourself also has a great impact your mental health?

In a book I’m currently reading*, the author writes on self-talk and the importance of acknowledging your “inner-child.” This term, inner-child, is rooted deep into psychology and associated with a person’s potential, creativity, and expression – all of which are aspects influenced from their childhood. It’s also the idea that the child version of yourself lives on in your psyche and still has influence over your day to day life within your emotions and where you find your common comforts.

That above passage from the book really hit home, it had me thinking not only how I would talk to my younger self, but in a more tangible sense I thought, “Would I say the things I tell myself to my kid sister?” and before I could even complete that thought, I already knew the answer. The way I talk to myself sometimes can be so intense and so hurtful, not only would I never talk to my little sister that way… I wouldn’t even talk to burnt popcorn that way.

Food for thought: If we wouldn’t talk to others a certain way, why in the world should we talk to ourselves in such a manner?

Just like we need to wear a mask, just like we need to vote… we need to be kind to ourselves. There is only one person we are with at all hours of the day and night, there is only one person we can’t escape from, there is only one person we can’t ever shut out… and that’s ourselves.

So guys, this is a friendly reminder to treat yourself with the love and respect you deserve, it’s your birthright.

*SOURCE: The Witch’s Book of Self-Care: Magical Ways to Pamper, Soothe, and Care for Your Body and Spirit by Arin Murphy-Hiscock

Hey Insomniac, Have You Tried…

How’d you sleep last night?

I always have trouble falling asleep – my brain runs a mile a minute the second my head hits the pillows, and sometimes I cannot seem to just chill out.

I think about my day, everything I could’ve done differently and how I could’ve used my time more wisely, I think about what I have to do tomorrow, what time I should wake up, and if I go to sleep right now exactly how many hours will I get to actually sleep?

It doesn’t stop there folks, I think about something I said in third grade that was so embarrassing that I’m convinced everyone else must randomly think about it too, I mean if I am then they must be, right?

I think about how many more days I can put off laundry, when I should get groceries, and I get so restless that I think about whether or not I should create a new Spotify playlist that fits with a certain mood I may or may not feel tomorrow, simply because I want to do something semi-productive in the midst of my sleeplessness.

When I say my mind doesn’t stop, it truly doesn’t stop.

So I’ve tried several tricks over the years:

  1. I’ve tried medication, but I always do this terrible thing which is me suddenly feeling “fixed” and like I don’t need them anymore *eye roll*. I’ve been prescribed medication, but I’ve also done over the counter sleep aids, and good ‘ole Benadryl always does the trick to knock me out.
    • One major thing to note with sleeping meds is that the minute you start taking them, your body becomes somewhat reliant on them – so when you stop taking them the best thing to do is wean yourself off to avoid the most sleepless night of your life. More info here on sleep aid medication
  2. I’ve tried teas – these help, but sometimes I just don’t feel in the tea mood and well… that’s how that goes.
  3. I’ve tried pillow sprays, like the ones from Bath & Body Works, which also help – but sometimes they’re a bit out of budget, and sometimes I simply don’t want to smell that same smell every night.

So as you can see, my self-sabotage game is strong! But I’ve identified my main problem is that I’m incredibly fickle-minded, I need something that is flexible and takes minimal effort in order to stick with it.

The first major milestone in conquering my sleep issues was discovering the Sleep Pillow app.

Sleep Pillow not only offers various sounds to soothe and distract the mind, but it allows you to create your own sleep mixes. I find water incredibly soothing and grounding, so what works great for me is a mix of rain splashing in puddles, waves crashing, and a strong thunderstorm. But they also have various other noises to mix in like a crackling fire, whale sounds (lol), and other relaxing noises.

I used this app for a hot minute, but then my fickleness showed face and Sleep Pillow suddenly wasn’t right, or enough, to drown out my late night thoughts. That being said, I still have it downloaded on my phone, just in case 😉

I tried the Calm app for a few weeks and had people like Matthew McConaughey tell me stories, which was oddly relaxing. But then this app cost some money that was more than I was willing to spend, especially on something my fickleness could deem useless in X amount of time.

Then a major breakthrough happened: the Breathe app.

Guys, this app is a game changer. What makes Breathe so different than my previous explorations, is that it’s multi-functional. It’s not just a sleep app, it’s a mindfulness app for anytime of the day – and it’s free. There are meditations in there for a quick mid-day mindbreak, yogic meditations, tracks for quick power naps, and my ultimate fave – hyponotherapy sessions.

Whenever I mention hypnotherapy to people, their eyes widen a bit and I practically hear their thoughts of, “Hypnotherapy?! Why would you fall asleep to getting hypnotized! What if they’re putting false thoughts in your head?!”

All I’ve gotta say is scroll back up and read through what are just a fraction of my late night thoughts. I’m sure you’d be desperate to do what you gotta do to shut yourself up. And ultimately, you just have to trust the process. Breathe has stellar reviews, the people speaking have reputable backgrounds, and I can put on literally anything by Glen Harrold and I fall asleep within 20 minutes. There are other folks on there, but his voice is what is the most soothing to me, I highly recommend bouncing around the various speakers until you find someone whose voice works for you.

I’ve been using Breathe for a little over a year, and I’m sure you’re wondering, “Does the hypnotherapy actually work? Like WORK, work?

If I’m being honest, I genuinely have no idea. Since it’s so psychological, I do have a hard time telling if I’m in a better mood or feel more rested because I switched up the track that night, or because I did stick with the same track every night one week, or maybe it’s simply a better day… it’s hard to tell. I should also note that I don’t necessarily use this app every night, only when the thoughts are significantly loud – which I would put at anywhere between 50-85% of the time.

One thing I will say, is that the last two nights I’ve been listening to Glenn Harrold’s Transformation & Miracles track, and each morning I’ve woken up incredibly well rested and hopeful for the day. Which, I’m sad to say, is a rarity for me.

The last tip I have to share, if you’re not into apps, white noise, or meds, is a breathing trick: get comfortable in bed, take a deep breath in (count to 4 or 5, whichever feels more comfortable), hold your breath for three seconds, then slowly exhale (counting to 4 or 5, whichever feels more comfortable.) The deep breathing slows down your heart rate, and concentrating on counting each breath gives you something to focus on, bringing you to a state of mindfulness and bringing your mind to the present: which is that your day is done and it’s time to sleep.

Made on Canva by Peachy Keen Collective

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So, my fellow dwellers of the night, I’ve shared my tips and I’m eager to know some of yours! Please share your sleep hacks in the comments! My fickle mind could come into play soon and I may need a new fix 🙂

Easy Ways to Interrupt a Depression Spiral

A close friend texted me this week saying, “Three things you do to get yourself out of a slump. Go.”. My answer was go for a walk, clean the house/rearrange things and to light candles. While rushed, the answer is still mostly accurate but I wanted to elaborate more on the whys behind them.


First things first, depression affects everyone differently and can manifest in a variety of ways. Personally, depression comes in waves almost like clockwork. I can feel myself slipping and before long I’m sitting at the bottom of the pit, living there for a while. Two years ago, I hit my roughest patch which consisted of regular depression naps every Saturday at 2PM (which genuinely became a concerning joke amongst friends and family), overindulging in food/alcohol and spewing self-deprecating depression jokes to everyone’s displeasure. I’ve watched friends suffer through these depths numerous times but for the first time I was miles away from the surface with no sense of what to do. I spent months in this proverbial hellscape before drifting slowly upwards. Before long, that heavy weight I’d been carrying was gone, without a note goodbye. Here is my easy guide to interrupting a depression spiral.

  • Learn your warning signs – Inevitably, if you’re experiencing depression, there’s a good chance that it’ll happen again and that’s okay. It’s normal. Like I mentioned earlier, depression can be like a wave: it ebbs and flows. Comes on in a hurry then leaves. Push and pull. While it can be scary to think that it will return, especially when you’re already feeling low, it can instead be a positive situation because you have time to prepare for the next fall. Common signs can include: sleeping too much or not at all, disconnected emotional changes, overeating or under eating, overall numbness or lethargy. 
  • Find simple tricks to give yourself joy – When you’re spiraling, there’s not much that can bring you joy or even a glimmer of hope. Thankfully, I was able to find a consistent, low-energy trick: watching weekly Jenna Marbles videos on Youtube. I have been a fan of Jenna Marbles for nearly a decade and it was easy to go ‘Oh, it’s Thursday – I bet there’s a new video up’. That simple act was enough for me to hold on to. Did I really care about the content of her videos? No. Did I routinely watch them just to get a chuckle or two? Yes. The most important part of this trick is to find something that requires barely any effort on your part but is scheduled: a show on cable, a weekly youtube video, a podcast. 
  • Create a self care kit – For the most part, self care goes out the window during a depression wave however, by having a go to kit of your favorite things, it may be enough to slow the impending tide. Whether you’re a shower or bath person, keep on hand your favorite candles, gels, bombs and scents. Another part of your kit can be productive like art supplies, your favorite book or maybe just an extra comfy pair of sweats. Scents to look for: lemon and orange for energy, lavender and jasmine for calming, bergamot and rosemary for alertness. 
  • Care for something outside of yourself – Loving others is another way to energize yourself. From plants to pets to people, being able to respond and love something can help you feel a little more connected when in the pits. My boss gifted my coworker and I tropical plants last fall that I was determined to keep alive. When my coworker left her position, she gave me her plant to take care of. Tropical plants in central Indiana? Goodluck. For the record, I do not have a green thumb and can barely keep myself alive let alone a plant. They never bloomed, but they’ve sprouted new growth and are something I’m proud of now. 
  • Try something new – Routines can be great but they can also be smothering. I crave routine and structure but once I start falling down a pit, routines make my skin crawl like I’m growing too quickly from the inside and my skin can’t hold me. When you’re feeling a funk come on, try something new. Say yes to an invitation from a friend. Take a different route home from work. Walk a new path at the park. Watch a new sitcom just to change the perspective. We are so comfortable in our own worlds that sometimes breaking the routine and experiencing something new can be liberating and cathartic. 

What worked for me may not work for you perfectly and that’s okay. The goal is to try things that you may not have considered previously if you find yourself descending the steps into the pit. If you’re fully in the trenches, these things may not work or work as well and you should always confide in someone you trust about your feelings. 


If you or someone you know is in immediate danger due to depression, contact 911. If you or someone you know is in need of support, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255); En Español 1-888-628-9454 or text “HELLO” to 741741 the Crisis Text Line.