What’s in this blog?

The resources, tools, and ideas in this blog come from my many years of reading about and attending therapy for Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), and the effects of trauma. Through therapy and personal research, I have learned skills from Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), Cognitive Behavioral Therapy with Exposure and Response Prevention (CBT with ERP), Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), Mindfulness, and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR).

I began this blog as an outlet to express the challenges and victories I was trying to navigate as I moved through the difficult journey of finding the mental wellness tools that worked for me. After joining the mental health community on social media in 2014, I soon realized that there were many people searching for their own mental wellness path. In late 2018, I decided to make my posts public in the hope that it would help at least one person.

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Creativity and Connection

It’s been nearly a year and a half since I’ve written anything (I couldn’t believe it when I realized that my last post was in April of 2021). I spent the morning reading back through some of my previous posts and in so doing, recognized that I’ve achieved so many of my wellness goals over the course of the last two years. The way I feel about some of the things I’ve posted has changed slightly and I’ve grown so much in so many ways. Time periods without writing used to signal that I was taking the time to turn inwards towards listening more attentively to my body and mind. But this period without writing has been fueled by something quite different…….I’m so joyously content with my life, so grounded in my values and who I want in my inner circle, and excited about what’s next.

Although these last two years have been marked by a pandemic, getting a promotion and navigating new work, and dealing with managing some gnarly chronic migraines, life has actually been so full of joy and gratitude. One of the greatest accomplishments of these past two years is that I now have the mental and physical wellness tools that allow me to turn towards self-expression and creativity.

What was once an Instagram account that had posts here and there about mental health has shifted towards art and lettering. I am a proud pen nerd now and I love it! I’ve been enjoying experimenting with different art mediums (acrylics is not my jam, by the way) and I’ve connected with the kindest most creative people who are also on a learning journey. The combination of these two things has reignited the drive towards self-expression, creativity, and connection that are the cornerstone of my life values.

For the few of you who follow me, this post is just to say that I’m actually more than just okay now. I have some really lovely people (both those who I know well and those who I am coming to know better) to thank for that.

“Side Effects”– New album by Jason Didner

I was so excited for Jason when he reached out to share that his upcoming album titled “Side Effects” would soon be released on February 3, 2023.

The last year has been one where I’ve had the opportunity to focus on building space for expression and creativity. Supporting others who are doing the same is something that fills me with joy. Creativity is a form of love in action and when we are committed to it, there is so much learning and growth that takes us to the next stage of our creative process. There’s something really important about honoring that process in others.

Much like Jason’s last album, themes of connection, learning, growth, and love permeate the lyrics and melodies. The listener hears stories unfold that are marked by difficulty yet faced with resilience, love and humor. (I always enjoy sensing Jason’s optimistic humor as a listener). There’s so much joy in his music despite the difficult experiences that inspired some of the songs. As I listened, I noticed something a little more poignantly in this album… and maybe a little zen. As someone who has been practicing mediation for many years now, I could spot lyrics influenced by zen philosophy and I loved catching them!

Musically, the guitar and complexity in drumming beats (and the way they melded together beautifully) was so much fun to listen to! I especially enjoyed listening to “This heart was built to last,” laughed out loud at “Patient Portal” (I’m totally playing this the next time I see my neurologist), and wished I could play guitar while listening to “Molasses Blues.” I made a personal connection to the song “When the time came.” As someone who is now in my maintenance stage of living with anxiety and OCD (hooray!), the song encapsulated the new thinking patterns I worked so hard to incorporate into my life in order to work towards personal wellness.

If you’d like to learn more about Jason and his upcoming album, you can connect with him on Instagram at @jasondidner or at www.jasondidner.com

Happy listening,

V

Rock Songs to Heal the Mind: New Music by Jason Didner

For many people I know who live with a mental health diagnosis, music has been an essential part of their healing and recovery. Songs have the capacity to make us feel connected to others, less alone, heard, and understood. They can ignite joy on heavy days and inspire moments that bring us back to feeling grounded. This is especially true when the people behind the music write with the intention of bringing awareness to the many aspects of striving to be mentally healthy, mindful, and compassionate towards one’s self. Jason Didner is a rock-inspired singer/songwriter who is doing just that.

Those of us who are on this mental health journey will find themselves mirrored in Jason’s lyrics—reminders of the value of presence in the here and now, the steadying nature of those we love, the catastrophic thinking that distorts our thoughts, and much more. For those who are just beginning to understand the importance of mental health, Jason’s music will inspire a sense of curiosity to learn more about the many ways to construct a mentally healthy life.

I had the opportunity to get an early listen to Jason’s soon-to-be released album “Salt and Sand: Rock Songs to Heal the Mind” and was immediately drawn to the compassion and honesty of lyrical choice with which Jason (and fellow writers) discussed the topic and told stories through music. As someone who has been keeping a journal for most of my life, the song “A Different Kind of Zen” reminded me to “keep the truth flowing” (I actually listened to it while doing my daily gratitude journal). While I found a personal mirroring effect in all of the album’s songs, the last song. “A Moment of Loving Kindness” stood out the most to me. Metta meditations are my favorite types of meditations and Jason, who is accompanied by the lovely voice of Leslie Masuzzo, skillfully combine a soothing melody to lyrics that spread love towards self, others, and the world ……After I’m done writing this, I’m going to encourage Jason to put this song on Insight Timer 😉

If you’d like to learn more about Jason and his upcoming album, you can connect with him on Instagram at @jasondidner or at www.jasondidner.com

Happy listening,

V

7 personality tests to get to know yourself better

On my way towards healing and mental health work, I realized that I had so much self-discovery I needed to embark upon as part of my journey. A personality test can’t truly define who we are (we’re far too complex and unique for that) but they do help us construct the language to better define our values and identities. Even if the results of an online test are not accurate, the fact that we’re reacting to the inaccuracy guides us towards who we are. Sometimes the easiest way to figure out who we are is to have someone tell us we’re something when we know we’re not. Plus, they’re fun. Here are a few I love…..

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The Power of Neutral Thinking and the Mental Noting Technique

Just. Think. Positive.

At the beginning of learning to manage my mental health “Just think positive” was one of the main tools I had in my mental health toolbox. (Let’s be honest, I think it was the only tool for quite some time). As an eternal optimist, positive thinking came easily to me. When I was feeling negatively about the fact that I lived with mental illness and trauma, I quickly found a way to turn it into a positive. I smiled through it. I tried my best to apply the “fake it until you make it” model.

I learned quickly though that positive thinking isn’t always the healthiest thinking.

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There’s a poem in there

There’s a poem in there
Buried in inadequacies and fears, there is a poem

I can see its light radiating on the darkest of days
On the days when I have temporarily become uprooted
On the days when the stars in my eyes dim to mimic the appearance of distant fireflies


No bright amber rays from these stars, just embers of a person who knows what it’s like to continuously reignite the will to get better

There is a poem in you
Melancholy words, attempts at overcoming, a bit of self-made prophecy

Tuck the poem into the warmth of your pocket. Push your roots back in.
Sit with the fears. Give them each a name. Call them yours.

There is a poem in us

It tells us to keep going