Keith is a regular contributor to Bring Change 2 Mind’s blog, and to the Good Men Project. If you are interested in working with Keith feel free to reach out. Contact WL if you want to be a Guest Blogger.
Worth Living Ambassador & Official DJ Scratchley Q
DJ Scratchley Q returns with some awesome songs and videos to share. Take a breath, sit back, and enjoy some music! I want to thank her for all she does for WL, she is a true inspiration. We all need her and her music to help us on this path.
Worth Living Top 10 Countdown – Letters
Enjoy this week’s countdown! – Scratchley Q
10. The Letter – Kristin Hersh
9. Write a Letter To Myself – The Chi Lite
8. I’m Gonna Sit Right Down And Write Myself A Letter – Frank Sinatra
7. I’m Meant To Be – Anthem Lights
6. Dear To Me – Electric Guest
5. Letter To Me – Brad Paisley
4. Dear Younger Me – Mercy Me
3. Letter To Myself – Eminem
2. Dear Me – Eric Hutchinson
1. Dear Me – Slushii
Worth Living Ambassador Nikki Opara
My name is Nikki Opara, I am 22 years old and a recent psychology graduate from California State University Fullerton. I am a Mental Health/ Lifestyle Blogger, with a passion for fighting the stigma around mental illness and encouraging young teens to never give up. I hope to attend grad school someday and pursue my masters in macro social work and global practice. – Nikki ( Her Daring Thoughts )
“Dear 12 Year Old Me”
Dear 12 year old me..
Sorry for the times I was so difficult on you
I am sorry for buying those Seventeen magazines
Allowing you to be drained & deceived by an unrealistic reality of beauty..
Dear 12 year old me..
On this day I want to say sorry
I am sorry that I allowed your mind to endlessly run
I allowed you to hate yourself that much
I am sorry for not allowing you to ask for help
To ask for help earlier cause you desperately needed it
I didn’t stop the cycle, one cut after another until it did not hurt anymore.
I’m sorry for making you feel numb..
Dear 12 year old me..
I’m 22 years old now,
Yes, I still get my temptations
But life is not about aiming for perfection
I am learning to refrain from those self-sabotaging actions
In case you’re wondering,
That’s success if you ask me.
Worth Living Ambassador Frankie Samah
Hi I’m Frankie and I’m from Wales, UK. I am a psychology teacher and postgraduate education psychologist. I am a women’s right activist, working with women’s aid to raising awareness and to break the silence. I am a mental health advocate and writer. I believe in counteracting the stigma around mental health and we should begin with the ideology. Instagram- Frankie Samah www.frankiesamah.com
Brain Fog: What is It?
So many of us experience a heavy feeling in our heads or our heads feeling fuzzy, where we can’t concentrate or recall information. It was once described to me like this- imagine you are a knight in a forest full of overgrown brambles, you take out your sword to chop away the brambles so you can walk through the forest. This is what it feels like to have brain fog, you have to battle the way through your mind to concentrate, read, think, to complete the most mundane task.
Brain fog symptoms
• Fatigue or low energy
• Inability to concentrate
• Poor working memory
• Low motivation
• Reduced ability to recall information and to memorise information
So what is it?
Brain fog is not a medical term; it can have many names for example – brain fatigue, brain clouding, clouding of consciousness. It is a type of cognitive dysfunction that can affect your memory, can lead to poor concentration, forgetfulness and a lack of focus and mental clarity. This is generally caused by an inflammation of the brain which stems from some underlying cause.
Through research, this underlying inflammation seems to be associated with the frontal-limbic circuitry. This word ‘frontal’ is easy to understand, this is the front part of the brain, its primarily involved in motor function, problem-solving, memory, language, and impulses. The structure of the limbic system is involved in motivation, emotion, learning, and memory.
The limbic system generally involves the bits in the middle, such as the amygdala, hippocampus, thalamus, hypothalamus, basal ganglia, and cingulate gyrus. The amygdala is the emotion centre of the brain while the hippocampus helps the formation of new memories.
So brain fog can be caused if the limbic system becomes unbalanced which can occur because of an injury or a stressful event.
The unbalance to the limbic system can also occur because of a hormone change such as dopamine, serotonin and cortisol which all determine your mood, energy, and focus. Cortisol is often referred to as the stress hormone as it keeps us awake and alert; dopamine helps regulate movement and emotional responses; serotonin governs anxiety, happiness, and mood.
With the frontal-limbic system affected and the understanding of what it regulates it becomes understandable why we don’t feel ourselves.
In the novel- One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest, written in 1962, brain fog plays a significant role throughout. Nurse Ratched uses this brain fog to her advantage as she knows how it can make her patients feel helpless and keeps the patients from rising against her. It is only when Randle becomes a patient and begins to treat other patients with dignity does their ‘fog’ begin to lift. The novel makes it clear that many of the characters are not necessarily “insane”, but they fail to fit into society, so society makes them feel “insane”. The characters in the novel hold themselves back from living freely because they are terrified of how they will be perceived and this judgement about what constitutes normal or abnormal behaviour is made by a few people in a perceived position of power. For most of the patients, they simply cannot deal with the shame of not fitting into normal society rules. As a result, they hide themselves away rather than having to face the challenges of life, until character, Randle, helps them to recognise their internal dignity and self-worth, reconnect with themselves, and to fall in love with themselves in a way that would be unaffected by society’s perception of them.
“I’d wander for days in the fog, scared I’d never see another thing” Ken Kesey, One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest.
Brain fog can be lifted by helping ease the underlying cause, by dealing with the stressors in your life and becoming more in control of your thoughts. There are many ways this can be done ; for example, through cognitive behavioural therapy which is a talking therapy that is designed to change the way you think and behave.
The reason I wanted to explain what brain fog is, I firmly believe to counterbalance the stigma around mental health we should begin with the ideology and we can achieve this through education. With a knowledge of how brain fog can affect us, it can help us understand people who are suffering with it and it demonstrates how we can’t simply snap out of it. It takes time for the fog to ease and our minds to clear.
Recently, the most talented Kate Spade who brought so much beauty into this world through her creative talents sadly took her own life. This is a deafening reminder that mental health and depression doesn’t discriminate, so neither should we. Happiness is not limited to your bank account, your looks, your profession, your success or how you present your persona to the world. There should be no more stigma surrounding mental health, only kindness, awareness, compassion, love and understanding.
One might say that people with a ‘normal’ functioning brain are excited to be alive even if there are life stressors or heartache but imagine what it would be like if this excitement had gone and you are trapped in the static fog of your mind.
Brain fog may be invisible but it is clear it can have a compelling effect on people’s life. Take time to be someone’s Randle and help them fall in love with themselves.
If you do feel the need to talk to someone, on the Worth Living website under contacts, there is a “getting help” section which contains useful contacts that may be beneficial.
Worth Living Retail Director Tori McCarty
I Stand on the Border
We all experience the world in such unique ways, sometimes I don’t know what to do!
How to stand, walk or talk; how to act or behave.
My emotions, intense like a rave.
Do you like me? Will you leave? Will you notice my sleeve, that cover the scars I once carved?
Sometimes I feel puzzled; don’t know what to do
My emotions, they torture and stew.
I stand on the border;
“Emotional Intensity Disorder”
but despite that I’m here telling you:
LIFE IS WORTH LIVING,
the struggles and all,
so get up, and reach out, when you fall!
Worth Living Ambassador Jessie Fawcett
Hello, my name is Jessie and I’m a student attending Ryerson University to obtain a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work. I am dedicated to being able to work in a juvenile detention centre in order to help aid youths who are struggling with their own lives. Mental health has always had a huge impact on my life and I’m finally starting to be able to share my story in hopes to help others who are also struggling with the same issues as well as shedding some light onto mental health.
Falling Back into the Darkness
I sit here reminiscing about not that long ago. I’m lying on my bed with my headphones on and the music blaring. What am I hoping to accomplish by doing this? Having it so loud that I go deaf and make my ears bleed or am I doing this to block out the rest of the world once again? I think that the second option is the proper answer. But why am I resorting to doing this again? Why am I falling down the same hole that I fought so vigorously to get myself out of? The simple answer I guess is that life isn’t just one simple road to recovery.
The road isn’t straight and narrow; it has pot holes, curves, and dead-ends which make it necessary to find different paths to reach your destination. To further explain, lying in my bed and listening to music seems innocent, does it not? For most people, it is completely normal to do so. However, for me, it can be dangerous. You see, when I was deep in the midst of my depression, I would resort to my room to hide from the world. My room was my safe haven. Unfortunately, it was also the place where most of my misery occurred. In being in my room (which is located in the basement as the only bedroom) , I felt utterly alone. So much so, that loneliness was usually the only thing that I could feel when I was in my bedroom.
How did I get out of this rut before? I had help of course but I found things to do. Usually physical activity, as in walking, curling, and volleyball. I put a lot of effort into not being in my room as often as well as not being alone. Sadly, my experience after returning home for the summer has not been helpful towards my mental health recovery. At the end of the last term, I remember being so excited and highly anticipated going home for the summer. I thought it would be great to be home and being with my people once again. I was mistaken because I made a small miscalculation; the majority of my friends have gone down different paths now and no longer live close-by. Therefore, I find myself in solitude once again. I’m not saying that I was fully recovered but I have definitely taken many steps back in my recovery since returning home a month ago. It’s truly discouraging, frustrating, and mentally painful to feel yourself going back into the place you tried so hard to escape. I can feel the darkness creeping back towards me and unless I do something about it, I am going to be right back where I started.
You see, it’s quite difficult to find the motivation to go out and do things when you’re always alone, your friends are gone, or your friends are too busy for you. ‘Why can’t you do things by yourself?’ is what I am often asked. If you’re going to the movies, would you prefer going alone or with a friend or a group of friends? Most people would prefer going with their friend(s). Even things as remotely small as going for walks is something I feel that I need to do with someone else. I’m alone all of the time now. I went from being surrounded by thousands of people every day for eight months when I was in Toronto to basically nobody. It’s a shock to the system when you keep going back and forth from nobody to everybody to nobody again.
I remember feeling empty most of the time. I remember crying myself to sleep and just allowing my demons to consume me. I had absolutely no energy left in me to fight the demons off. Those feelings are the exact ones that I can sense returning. I honestly believe that what hurt me the most out of all of the aspects of my depression was the loneliness. We are social beings, we require having people interact with us in order to survive. When you don’t have it, it can bring you to extremely dark places.
I can physically feel it. I can feel it in my chest; my heart aches for attention and affection. It’s either aching or breaking. Perhaps it is already broken? If anything, it’s broken because it had found peace for a little while whilst I was in school and now I don’t have that support system anymore. I can feel it through exhaustion. I am sleeping much longer once again except I never feel rested. All I want to do is sleep my life away which is exactly what I wanted to do when I was at my lowest. I can feel it in my stomach as I am no longer as hungry as I was before. I rarely am. I can feel it in my eyes. They’re swollen from the tears that were shed the night before. The bags beneath my eyes are apparent from the exhaustion of crying during the late hours of the night. I can feel my old thoughts coming back as well which is the scariest part of it all.
What is the point of all this rambling? Specifically relapses for depression, in my opinion, are almost worse than the first occurrence. Particularly for myself, I was beginning to feel happy for the first time in years. I felt healthier, I felt pride for myself towards what I have accomplished in the past year but now I can feel it slipping away through my fingers. I’m losing myself again, putting the mask on that I wore every day in high school and ignoring what should never be ignored. It’s devastating to relapse. I’m angry and I’m disappointed especially with myself. Thoughts that keep presenting themselves into my mind are “What’s the point of fighting when I can’t see what’s worth fighting for anymore? Why should I continue if I’m just going to find myself back where I was? I survived but what if I’m tired of surviving? Why should I risk putting myself through this again?” I suppose there’s an answer for everything.
I’m sure you want the happy positive side of things and to hear that there are always more reasons why not than there are reasons why (yes that was a 13 Reasons Why reference). Well here they are: I may have ended up at a dead-end road, but I can always turn around and find a different path; so can you. Relapses are part of recovery. There are always reasons to keep on fighting. Fight for your friends, fight for your family, fight for your pet. Fight for your life because you have one. You have people who care and people that want you around. You are loved and you are cherished. You are wanted and, most importantly, you are not alone no matter how much you feel as though you are. What once made you smile has the power to do so again. Don’t let the darkness completely kick you down once again. After all, you fought it once before, so you know very well that you can fight it once again.
I have a friend that told me it’s okay to be sad sometimes and that it’s okay to let yourself feel that pain. But only feel it for a little while. Especially on the really bad days, it’s important to remember your goals in life whatever they might be. She reminded me that I will be returning to school in a few months, I’ll be living in a home with her and our other friends. She told me to think of graduation. She told me to think of my dream job. She told me that there is so much to fight for. She told me to fight for myself. But what stuck with me the most was that she told me to fight for my future self. And I will.
I’m not going to sugar-coat it for you, it won’t be easy but it will be worth it. Make it worth it.
Worth Living Ambassador Beth Allen
Hey there, everyone! Please tell me I’m not the only one who finds it a challenge to SLOW DOWN…? This week’s video is just a little message to say that we’re going to take a super short break. It’s so important when we feel ourselves slipping a little to not be hard on ourselves…& make sure we take that time for US.
Self-care is not SELFISH! Get that idea out of your head right now. You deserve this time of respite & relaxation. You deserve to treat yourself right. You deserve to feel the benefit of time out.
How do you feel when you need to take a break? Do you find it easy or difficult? I am SUPER interested to hear your thoughts!
We will be back in a couple of weeks – raring to go & raising more awareness than ever before. Until then, my friends – stay wonderful & I will see you soon with another video.
Love Beth xo
Quote Of The Week – “If you’re always rushing to the next moment…what happens to the one you’re in?”
Worth Living Ambassador & Official J Scratchley Q with Worth Living Ambassador Zippah
Worth Living Top 10 Countdown – A World of Musical Favourites
This week we are sharing some of our current favourites from around the world with all of you! We hope you enjoy them as much as we do.
Enjoy! -Scratchley Q & Zippah
10. Zap Mama – Nittyu Scott
9. This Women – Maxi Priest ft. Yemi Alade
8. Suh Different – Patoranking
7. Your Love – Tekno ft. Diamond
6. Kwangwaru – Harmonize ft. Diamond Platnumz
5. Chaguo La Mayo – Otile Brown ft. Sanaipei Tande
4. Lonely – Matoma ft. MAX
3. Noma Ni – Octopizzo
2. African Beauty – Diamond Platnumz ft. Omarion
1. Short N Sweet – Sauti Sol ft. Nyashinski
Worth Living Ambassador Beth Allen
BPD Awareness Month – What is it like to live with BPD?
This week we’re raising awareness for BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder or Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder) – a mental illness that I know affects many in the community.
Thank you so much to everyone who shared their stories & experiences with me this week – you really are WARRIORS! I truly feel like I have learned so much & we managed to raise awareness whilst doing so!
I’ll see you next week – with another video.
Quote of the week:
“Small acts…when multiplied by a community CAN CHANGE THE WORLD” – Howard Zin
I’d love to connect with you on Social Media! Here’s where to find me:
Worth Living Ambassador & Official DJ Scratchley Q
Worth Living Top 10 Countdown – Lost and Found
Sometimes on our journeys in life we get lost. Sometimes we are lost for a long time, sometimes just momentarily. What comes from being lost is being found and learning new things. As people we grow from being lost. Sometimes we need others to help us find ourselves. Sometimes we can find ourselves on our own. This week we count down Worth Living’s Top 10 Lost and Found songs.
Enjoy! – Scratchley Q
10. Lost Horizon – Ray Bloch Orchestra
9. Lost and Found – Chris Brown
8. Anywhere But Nowhere – Gene Chandler and Barbara Acklin
7. Lost & Found – Tedy
6. I Finally Found My Way – Kiss
5. I Found Myself – Ciara
4. Destination: Nowhere – Chesterfield
3. Awake and Alive – Skillet
2. Lost and Found – UB40
1. Soon We’ll be Found – Sia Furler
Worth Living Ambassador Ashley Wunsch
Hello, my name is Ashley Wunsch and I am studying International Development and Globalization at the University of Ottawa. I always had a desire to change the world. Last year, I realized that changing the world isn’t only digging wells and building schools, but also taking care of yourself and your mental health, so I started to get involved with organizations surrounding mental health like Worth Living.
Everything Happens for a Reason
The past few months it seems like I’ve been riding a roller coaster. It’s been pretty rough (on my heart at least). I tend to apply to a lot of things and most times I do not get them. Now I am not writing this to look for pity or anything along those lines, simply because I learned something behind it all that I would like to share, and it is also very therapeutic. There have been plenty of times in the past few months where it felt like my world was crashing, but most importantly, I’m still here and I survived it. Yes, my heart was broken many times when I did not get what I applied for, but then other opportunities that I never considered showed up to take their place.
The first of many heartbreaks would have to be applying to be on my student association. I applied for the role I’ve been eyeing since my first day of school and at the end of the day I did not get it. This is not a bash against the individual who did in any way as I am genuinely happy for them and know they will do a great job. However, I also can’t pretend I was fine when I heard their name being called, as my heart shattered in a million pieces. Since starting university, I wanted to fill the hole in my heart where student government used to be. I loved high school and my time in student government made me who I am today. I wanted to continue down that path more than anything especially in a role that I am so passionate about. So of course, I tried out for the role and when I didn’t get it, I tried so hard to hold in the tears and it worked until I got home at least. Stepping into my room, I was a mess that cried for four hours straight. I couldn’t understand why things worked out the way they did. I knew as bad as it may hurt that when I wake up the next day it would all be okay as there was nothing I could do about it and the individual who won the spot would be fantastic at it. I reassured myself that everything would be okay and that I don’t need a label or a position on my student association to be worth something, that I am more than that position. For that reason, I eventually fell asleep.
The next day, an amazing opportunity hit me. I convinced myself that there was a reason I did not get my role because I wouldn’t have time to do both this new one and the one I applied to. I was asked to be the co-president of the club of the organization I hope to work for one day. It was so honouring and rewarding especially since I will only be in my second year of university. As many organizations have taught me, age doesn’t matter to have an impact on the world. I gladly accepted the role and felt like I was floating on a cloud. The heartbreak from the day before diminished almost completely. Until, well I decided to apply for another executive positon. Fast forward two weeks- I did not get that role either.
I was hesitant applying at first, as I do not want to be a part of my student association just to get the credit that I am on the executive or to tell people I am on the exec. I want to be on my student association because I love it with all my heart and want to be as involved and as involved as possible. However, after the third try (once last fall), I started to think that it isn’t for me. There are so many opportunities and I am not necessarily ‘giving up’ but honestly, I do not know how many times I can willingly allow my heart to break. Besides, back to my train of thought of before; I don’t NEED to be on the executive to have a say or to attend events or to be involved – labels do not define us. For that reason, who knows where I will be and if I will try out again in the fall or next spring, only time will tell.
Yet coincidentally, it seems that when negative aspects hit me, a positive one will follow the next day. I was then offered a job in my hometown. I was honoured to be thought of and to be asked. However, in the moment I applied for my dream job, so I told them I would need to wait and see on their response. Initially, I did not get the job, meaning I accepted two jobs at home. A week later however, I got an email saying I was asked for an interview at my dream job. I was torn, not wanting to hurt my employers at home, but if I did, I would be hurting myself and not going for my dream. For that reason, in the moment, I decided to keep things on the down low and take the interview. I was not going to not try but I also wasn’t going to cause a scene where there’s a chance I did not get the job at the same time. In the end, I did get the job. I was happier than ever; my dream job awaits me. Yet, now it was time to tell the two other employers. Luckily, they seemed to take it alright, for which I am grateful but it was a process of overthinking and over analyzing the situation.
Social media seems to be filled with the positives in our lives which I do not blame anyone as I tend to post my highlights as well. Yet, I am also trying to post the downsides and the lessons that come out of them. Life is filled with ups and downs and we can all share our experiences and learn from each other. I did not get either executive positions and that’s okay. Just because I failed once doesn’t mean I need to stay down in that low area, I can pick myself back up piece by piece and grow from the experience. Just because I failed to get a position doesn’t mean I am a failure. If anything, it shows that I am willing to try new things. Honestly, this post has taken me two weeks to write, trying to make it as perfect as possible and trying to show that I have no grudges against anyone and make sure nobody looks bad in it. Yet I am glad to be able to one, finish this post and two, say that everything happens for a reason. Yes, I did not get the student association roles but instead I got two positions with the organization of my dreams, putting me one step closer to working for them after my graduation and I couldn’t be happier.