Latest Blog Posts

Confidence

Confidence, as defined via Google.com, is belief in one’s own abilities or self assurance in your ability to succeed.

One of the shocking things I discovered when I searched “confidence” on Google was the amount of articles relating to “Building Self Confidence.” There were articles that gave you ten easy steps to self confidence, or just personal advice on how to be more confident. Why is it so hard for us to be confident?

To put in simply, people find it hard to have self confidence because of the unrealistic goals society makes us believe are “essential.” You must be rich, you must be attractive, you must be charming, you must be intelligent, you must be perfect. If you aren’t these things, well, you’ll never be successful.

Society puts everyone into a bubble. Everyone must look, act, and be a certain way to be viewed as socially acceptable. But everyone is different. Everyone has their unique characteristics. Everyone has something about them that sets them apart from the rest.

Lately, I’ve found it easier to be more confident in my own skin. God gave me the body he gave me for a reason. God gave me the life he gave me for a reason. God has given me my fair share of struggles for a reason. And it can be so easy to forget this.

My best friends and other good friends are amazing. They’re all beautiful and perfect in my eyes. Everyone looks at themselves with a sense of doubt. They see their flaws, not their perfections. No one has a perfect body. Not even models. But when I look at my friends, I see them for who they really are: beautiful inside and out. They’re all loving, caring, smart, funny, and sweet. I couldn’t ask for better friends. And I remind them daily of how amazing they are, because I want to help build up their self confidence.

Being a teenage girl is SO. HARD. Being a human being is hard, but being a self conscious teenage girl in high school or college is god awful. You’re constantly comparing yourself to all of the other girls around you, tearing yourself down for not being perfect.

Well, you know what? They’re probably looking at you too wishing THEY could look like YOU. Everyone has their own flaws, and everyone has their own perfections. Don’t worry that you can’t be as skinny as some other girl. Don’t worry that you can’t have the same hair as another girl. Don’t worry that you can’t have the clothes that another girl has. Because, in the end, it all comes down to their personality and their reputation. What are you going to remember 20 years from now about your classmates? What clothes they used to wear, or how they used to act?

Don’t pay so much attention to your physical appearance as you should to your mental appearance. A pretty face can be a great thing, but it won’t get you very far unless you have a good attitude.

Have confidence in yourself. Have confidence in your abilities. Have confidence in the fact that you were born to be someone. Have confidence in the fact that God has a plan for you, one that you might not even know yet. Have confidence in the fact that you are an individual. Your unique characteristics are what people are going to remember most about you. Be unique. Be different. Be remembered.

If you need to talk, or if you have any questions:

E-mail: janemgray@yahoo.com

Twitter: @janemgray

Facebook: Jane Gray

Gender Stereotypes

Today, despite it being one of the nicest days outside in the past few weeks, I spent watching a documentary.

The documentary is called Miss Representation, and yes, it is streaming on Netflix, which is where I watched it.

The film was made in 2011 and became popular at the Sundance Film Festival in the same year. The description on Netflix reads, “Explore how the mainstream media’s often disparaging portrayals of women contribute to the under-representation of females in positions of leadership.”

I came across this movie by originally watching this video [[ http://www.upworthy.com/theres-something-absolutely-wrong-with-what-we-do-to-boys-before-they-grow-into-men?c=reccon1 ]], which is actually the trailer for a documentary being made by the same group that made Miss Representation. You can also check out their website, www.thepresentationproject.org .

This group’s main objective is to break down the gender stereotypes that are very prevalent in our society today. They bring these issues to light in an attempt to help change the way people look at gender.

In summary, Miss Representation shows how women are portrayed in the media, and, therefore, how they are treated or how they act. Women in positions on leaderships are very often criticized and ostracized. There was a high school boy in the video that said it, in my opinion, best as to why women are treated unfairly when trying to be leaders, and he said that men are threatened by women. Men are threatened that women are equal to them. I think this is so true. Women aren’t trying to knock men out of leadership positions completely, they just want to bring their perspective to the table in order to make a change or to just do what they were born to do.

There were videos shown of different news segments where women were publicly ridiculed. I think the one that will stick with me the most is one where there were two men. One was interviewing the other. The interviewer asked, “What are the down sides of having a woman president?” And the other man said, “Well, besides all of the PMS and mood swingsā€¦”

The thing that gets me the most with gender issues like the ones presented in this video are the way that men react to it. Whenever women try to discuss it, men talk about how they are better or more suited for something that a woman wants to do.

America is said to be free. People are supposed to be proud to be American.

I, for one, am not as proud to be American as one may be. Don’t get me wrong, I’m so grateful to be living in this country and to have the opportunities that I have, but I’m not so grateful for being raised into a destructive society.

I don’t feel like I can be free to be myself in this society. I don’t feel as if my opinions matter or that my thoughts are recognized. I’m reminded constantly by the media that my looks are the most important thing about me, if not the only important thing about me. And why? Is my only purpose to grow up and be someone’s good looking wife that will carry on good genes to my children?

If that’s my only purpose in life, that’s a sad life.

I have so much more going for me than my looks. I’m intelligent and caring and I’m passionate about spreading mental health awareness. I have so many opportunities, and I’m not going to let the media tell what I can and can’t be.

I was already aware of the problem concerning gender stereotypes in this country, but watching that documentary really took it to a whole other level. It will forever change the way I look at things. It changed my perspective. It changed the way that I’ll treat people. It changed the way that I’ll raise my children. It changed the way that I will live my life.

I highly recommend watching this documentary, but if you just don’t have the time, I want you to take one thing away from it. The next time you want to judge another woman or objectify a woman, or even publicly ridicule a woman, just don’t. What are you getting out of it? And think about this. What is it about a woman that makes her different from you, besides physical appearance. What is it about a woman that makes you think she is less than you? What is it about a woman that makes you believe that she is not capable of being a leader of anything? And finally, what are you getting out of this? Are you getting satisfaction out of it? Because if you are, you’re worse than a woman.

If you need to talk, or if you have any questions:

E-mail: janemgray@yahoo.com

Twitter: @janemgray

Facebook: Jane Gray

Self Harm

Self harm is so hard to understand, especially for those who haven’t been through that. Why would someone want to intentionally case pain to themselves? Who would do that?

It’s a confusing thing, even for those who self harm.

People that are depressed think that they deserve horrible things. They think, I deserve this constant sadness. I deserve this overwhelming feeling that I’m not good enough. I deserve even worse than this. So, once they go through this thought process, they decide that they deserve physical pain.

One of the only ways to create more pain for themselves, that they wrongly think they deserve, is to harm themselves.

When I used to cut myself, there wouldn’t even be a thought process. I would just do it. It was an impulse. I would think about doing it and how great it would feel, and then I would do it. Then I wouldn’t be able to stop.

I thought cutting myself was great because it was a temporary release from the mental pain that I was feeling. Instead of my thoughts consuming me, I was forced to focus on something else for at least a few minutes. I used cutting as a crutch. Instead of using positive coping mechanisms, I would just go straight for cutting. Because I knew that it would make me feel better for at least a little while. Of course it never lasted, and only ended up making me feel worse later on.

Self harm is addicting. I know that people don’t agree with that, but, from personal experience, I know that it’s true. There are still days when I think about it. However, I could never cut myself again. I know that. I only cut myself once when I left the psych ward, and let me tell you, I felt awful. It didn’t make me feel better at all, like it used to. That’s when I realized how destructive it was. I was physically harming myself to try and get away from the mental pain. It was ridiculous. I felt like an idiot. But, I knew that it was real. I could never go and tell someone else that they’re being stupid for cutting themselves. I could never do that because I know how real it is. Just because I don’t cut anymore doesn’t mean that it’s any less real. Or that it was just a phase or that I was doing it for attention, or whatever. Self harm is a huge issue.

It may not seem like a huge issue, but it’s a bigger issue than one may realize. If you know someone that cuts, be understanding. Help them get help. Don’t lash out at them or tell them how ridiculous they’re being. That will only make them feel worse. Encourage them to use positive methods of therapy. Help them help themselves.

Never underestimate the power of your voice. Spread the word about mental health, and you can help make a difference.

If you need to talk, or if you have any questions:

E-mail: janemgray@yahoo.com

Twitter: @janemgray

Facebook: Jane Gray

Mental Health Panel

As a lot of you know, I spoke on a mental health panel tonight for my church. Catholic Charities is an organization run by the diocese that I live in, and they had a mental health segment at SFX these past two weeks. They made an announcement about it when I went to mass a couple of weeks ago, and I went up and talked to the people in charge of the program after mass. I told them about how I love to help others and share my story, and they asked me to be on their panel.

So tonight was the panel discussion and the other people on the panel were two doctors who specialized in mental illness, and also a priest from the diocese. They were a very insightful group of people, and they (honestly) offered up a lot more information about mental illness than I ever could. However, I did get to share my story, and so many people came up to thank me afterwards. Which is weird. To get thanked for doing something you love, it’s a weird feeling. The two people running the program kept saying that I was brave and courageous for being able to talk about my experiences with mental illness, but it’s almost like a second nature to me now. I always appreciate kind words, of course, but I wouldn’t say being brave is the personality trait that I evoke when giving talks. When I tell my story and give talks, my biggest thing is trying to keep everything concise, while also telling the whole story. I don’t want to leave anything out, but I also don’t want to ramble on forever.

The reason I’m posting this is to kind of talk about myself. I know I talk about myself a lot on this blog, but this post is even more personal than usual (if that’s possible).

The things I’ve overcome in the past year have been incredible. At this time last year, I thought I would be depressed forever. At this time last year, I was still cutting myself to cope with the mental pain that I was feeling. At this time last year, I was in an almost constant suicidal state. Only one year ago, my life was hanging on by a thread. I never really understood what people meant before when they would say “what a difference a year can make!”, but now I do.

Life is so valuable, and it can be so hard to see that sometimes.

Now fast forward a year from all of those terrible things happening. I’m on a mental health panel speaking to others about the importance of mental health awareness. I’m not depressed anymore, I’m not cutting myself anymore, and I’m not suicidal anymore. I’m happy, and I’ve found the right medicine and the right coping methods for me. I’m satisfied and happy with life. And I want to make others feel that way. Because the person that’s feeling depressed and suicidal now, could be living their dream life a year from now.

What a difference a year can make.

Never underestimate the power of your voice. Spread the word about mental health, and you can help make a difference.

If you need to talk, or if you have any questions:

E-mail: janemgray@yahoo.com

Twitter: @janemgray

Facebook: Jane Gray

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How to Treat Someone With a Mental Illness

How do you treat someone with a mental illness? Like a person.

You treat them like you treat everyone else, just with more awareness for their situation – whatever it may be. Don’t call them crazy. Don’t tell them to “just be happy.” Don’t tell them what they should to cure themselves.

Having a mental illness is a horrible thing to have to go through. You have to suffer alone, and no one else can see your pain, so they don’t understand. Plus, there’s the stigma that surrounds mental illness, which makes it even harder to deal with it. How do you know who to trust? How do you know who to tell who won’t judge you? It’s a tough situation.

Mental illness is a sensitive subject with lots of people. Especially those who have never experienced it.

I’m very open about my depression and anxiety because I want to help others, but I know others that are reserved about it because of the stigma. So many people dance around the subject of mental illness when they’re talking to someone because they don’t want to offend them or say the wrong thing. It can be hard to assess a situation sometimes, but it’s more awkward if you don’t say anything at all. Just simply asking them how they’re doing will put them at ease, and it will show them that someone cares.

So, treat those with a mental illness like a person. It’s a cliche, but treat them how you would want to be treated.

Never underestimate the power of your voice. Spread the word about mental health, and you can help make a difference.

If you need to talk, or if you have any questions:

E-mail: janemgray@yahoo.com

Twitter: @janemgray

Facebook: Jane Gray

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Passion

Spreading mental health awareness is my passion. I love helping people. I love when I really touch a person and I really open their eyes to the effects of mental illness on a person.

There’s such a stigma surrounding mental illness, and it can keep a person from opening up about it to someone. It can destroy them, and even lead to suicide in some cases. All because they feel as if no one will understand or believe them.

I tell my story for those people. I don’t want them to suffer in silence like I did. It was a little over half a year before I finally told someone. No one should be that afraid of telling someone they have a disease. No one would keep a physical illness from anyone that long. So why mental illness?

Because people can’t see it. It’s going on inside your head, but only you can feel the effects it’s having on you. No one else can feel what you’re going through, so they sometimes think you’re making it up. They could also brush it off, or tell you to ignore it and it’ll go away. They tell you to be happy, or to let it run its course. Well, obviously, that won’t help. The serotonin levels in your brain aren’t where they’re supposed to be. And if you ignore it, they aren’t going to go back to normal. You’re just going to keep on being miserable.

And that’s what I’m trying to change. Mental illness is a very real thing, and I’m an example of that. 1 in 4 people in the US will be affected by a mental illness. ONE IN FOUR PEOPLE.

Never underestimate the power of your voice. Spread the word about mental health, and you can help make a difference.

If you need to talk, or if you have any questions:

E-mail: janemgray@yahoo.com

Twitter: @janemgray

Facebook: Jane Gray

Eating Disorders – Part 2

I’ve known quite a few people who’ve had eating disorders, however, I’ve never experienced that myself. It has definitely affected me personally, but not on the same level.

An eating disorder is something that completely consumes you and takes you over. It’s every thought you have and every thing you do is based on what your eating-disorder-warped-brain is telling you to do. “Don’t eat that.” or “You’re fat.” go through a person affected by an eating disorder’s mind daily. It can be hard to focus on life when all you’re worried about is how much you weigh.

And I know that just telling someone that they’re beautiful and that they aren’t fat doesn’t always convince them, so I’ve thought of something else.

When I was in the hospital, one of the nurses asked me why I had cut the last time I had cut. I couldn’t remember. And what she said really made me put things into perspective. I had purposely injured myself for a reason I couldn’t even remember two weeks later.

Now I know this doesn’t really apply to people with eating disorders because their reason is that they think they aren’t skinny enough. But the nurse also told me something else.

She asked me if I would be cutting myself forever. What if I was cutting myself even when I was a mother? What if my daughter saw my cuts or my scars? What would she think?

You’re supposed to be a role model for your son or daughter. They’re supposed to want to model themselves after you.

If your daughter sees you starving yourself, or you making yourself throw up – especially if she’s at a young age – she’s going to imitate you. She wants to be like you, and if she sees you doing this, she’s going to model herself after you.

Now at the time, I felt like this nurse was being sort of mean, but that’s what I needed. I needed a wake-up call, and I needed that tough love. I needed something dramatic to be said to me for me to want to change my ways.

I didn’t want my daughter to cut herself just because I did, and I didn’t want my niece or nephew to see that either.

It really had a lasting effect on me, and I hope it changes your mind about some things, too.

An eating disorder is something that is battled throughout your life, but it can be handled. It can be controlled even if you still have those thoughts and urges. I’m not saying it’ll be easy, but think of the long term effects of an eating disorder. Think of your future if you keep starving yourself or making yourself throw up or you keep obsessing over your weight. Do you still want to be living like a prisoner 5 years from now? Do you still want to be convincing yourself that you’re fat daily 5 years from now? Do you still want to be counting every calorie 5 years from now? That’s no way to live.

There’s so much more to life than your weight, I promise you. You’re missing out on so much by starving yourself, counting every calorie, and thinking of nothing else except your weight.

Talk to someone, get help. Don’t suffer in silence. Life is so much more than the number on the scale.

If you need to talk, or if you have any questions:

E-mail: janemgray@yahoo.com

Facebook: Jane Gray

Twitter: @janemgray