Brittany Johnson

@brittanyj | staff
Head Writer @ The Mighty Black Queer & Anxious Writer | Performer | Creator

9 Ways to Incorporate Lost Loved Ones on Your Wedding Day

I love weddings. I love going to weddings, planning (fake) weddings, imagining weddings, writing speeches for weddings , you name it. Blame the hopeful romantic in me, but there’s something so lovely about events centered around love. That being said, one of the bittersweet aspects of weddings are the ones who we wanted more than anything to be there, yet they’re no longer with us on this spiritual plane. Loss is pervasive, ugly, and life-changing, and while grief is truly a form of love, it still doesn’t make seeing the pictures that they should have been in easier. While some people prefer to not acknowledge loss on their wedding day, some people feel empowered by keeping the memories of the ones they loved alive on a day about new beginnings. I know I’m one of those people, even though I’m single and am nowhere near getting married. As I’m in love with weddings and wedding cultures, I’ve figured out a few key ways to honor the ones we’ve lost on our big day. 1. Floral arrangements. Does the person you lost have a flower they love the most? If so and you’re planning to have arrangements done, consider incorporating the favorite flower into your bouquet or some of the centerpieces. Maybe it’s only a few stems that are sitting near the head of the table or at the sweetheart table. It’s a very subtle touch that not everyone may understand, but you’ll know and that’s what matters. 2. A memoriam table, area, or chairs. Depending on how many people you want to honor, there’s always the idea of incorporating little spaces toward the ones who could no longer be in attendance. I’ve seen people do tables with multiple images and pictures from both sides of the family, which is a bit more cost effective. If you have it in your budget, having a few seats empty with florals or something showing that the space is for those members would be sweet as well. 3. Embroidering their handwriting onto something that you plan to wear. Have any old cards where they handwrote something to you in it? If so, consider getting something embroidered with the message, or even their handwriting so you can carry that little piece of them on you at all times. 4. Put them in a locket and wear that on the big day. You can get a small locket from Things Remembered, or other outlets and put their picture in it, that way they’re always close to your heart. 5. Wear their jewelry or something they owned. Cufflinks, necklaces, bracelets, earrings, you name it. It’s all fair game and follows with the previous idea of keeping them close to you the entire day. 6. Play their favorite song during the dinner portion. Due to y’know, tears, you may not want to do this during the party half of the night. Maybe you do, but it’s your choice! If they have a song they loved a lot, play it during a slower part of the evening. Maybe you can walk down the aisle to it, play it before the ceremony, or during the dinner. 7. If you still have what they wore to their wedding, use it to wrap your bouquet. Many people already do this, but using a piece of their wedding dress or something similar to wrap your bouquet in would be very tender and sweet. 8. If you’re religious, take a prayer moment and address it to them. For those of us who believe in a higher power or a heaven, this is a sweet way and private way to have a moment, just the two of you. If you’re not religious, you can write a letter to them and either choose to burn it, keep it, or creatively and sentimentally dispose of it elsewhere. 9. Serve their favorite dessert during the dessert portion of the dinner. Having their favorite dessert available would be a nice homage to them that all your family will appreciate! Bonus points if you can score the original recipe or if you have a family who can make it similar to them, because no one will ever make it quite as good. Loss is horrible, but weddings (hopefully) are delightful. Mixing the two may seem a bit dark, but as I mentioned, it’s sometimes needed. They may be gone, but they don’t have to be absent on your special day , and that’s the one thing to always remember.

Mental Health Takeaways From Beyoncé's New Song 'Break Your Soul'

Hey, queen. Girl, you have done it again — constantly raising the bar for us all and doing it flawlessly. Me? Write a Beyoncé story without starting it with that famous Michelle Obama line? Come on now. You had to see that coming. ICYMI, Beyoncé just released the song of the summer that my neighbors will inevitably hate because I can’t stop playing it. The upcoming album, newly dubbed “Renaissance,” seems to be a reference to how we’re moving into a renaissance of sorts, inspired by the continued years of being plagued by a global pandemic, amongst all the other worldwide issues we’re dealing with and living through. It makes sense that this album will be primarily a dance record with pulsing beats all around. Let’s break down the importance of these lyrics, and the mental health and wellness messages we can pull from them. “Now, I just fell in love And I just quit my job I’m gonna find new drive Damn, they work me so damn hard Work by nine Then off past five And they work my nerves That’s why I cannot sleep at night” The first verse starts off with her setting the scene. She has this new love that fills her up, but everything around her drains her. Dramatically. To say that she’s worked hard is an understatement, but her job is continually asking for more as if she hasn’t done anything at all. The job, unlike the love, is full of nothing but pain, stress, and anguish to the extent that she’s losing sleep which is a legitimate sign of chronic stress and burn out. Sidenote: I love this fantasy world where Beyoncé works a nine to five. Could you imagine being on Zoom casually with her and hearing Blue, Rumi, and Sir in the background? Do you think Jay randomly shouts “HOV” when walking around? I wonder if they have pets. Anyways… into the pre-chorus! “I’m lookin’ for motivation I’m lookin’ for a new foundation, yeah And I’m on that new vibration I’m buildin’ my own foundation, yeah Hold up, oh, baby, baby” She’s looking for something new. Something to fill her cup. Something that makes this dismal, annoying, capitalistic life worth it. On top of looking, she’s actually putting in the work and building up this new life brick-by-foundational-brick. After the chorus of “You won’t break my soul,” we hear Big Freedia project: “Release ya anger, release ya mind Release ya job, release the time Release ya trade, release the stress Release the love, forget the rest” Do you think I could just send this chorus to my manager in an email saying, “Hey sorry, I can’t work here anymore. Big Freedia and Beyoncé said I need to ‘release my job’ and what she says goes,” or am I taking these lyrics too literally?* *For legal reasons that was a joke. Please don’t take me seriously. I like it here I promise. The idea of releasing it all is so refreshing. It’s not saying, “Get through it cause you’re strong.” Instead, it’s campaigning to release what doesn’t serve us. Screw being “strong” and “resilient.” Walk away. This fresh breath of positive nihilism is freeing. Obviously, it’s easier said than done, but we don’t have to fight or hold on. We can release it. The second verse is full of partying and dance type lyrics that remind me of keke-ing with all my friends at the bars downtown, so I’m going to jump to the third verse. “If you don’t seek it, you won’t see it That, we all know (Can’t break my soul) If you don’t think it, you won’t be it That love ain’t yours (Can’t break my soul) Tryin’ to fake it, never makes it That, we all know (Can’t break my soul) You can have the stress and not take less I’ll justify love We go round in circles, round in circles Searchin’ for love (Round in circles) We go up and down, lost and found Searchin’ for love Looking for something that lives inside me Looking for something that lives inside me.” What do I even say about this? Besides damn . I swear it’s like she was looking in my diary when she was writing these lyrics. What I love about this verse is how it feels as if she’s putting power back into our hands. In today’s world, there are so many things out of our control. Rent and gas prices are basically mortgages, the economy is unstable, COVID-19 is tap dancing through people’s immune systems wreaking havoc, there are a few global conflicts continually happening, and we’re expected to just continue on as if nothing is wrong. We are made to keep pushing and working as if everything is right in the world when it’s not. I’ve written before about how we shouldn’t feel bad for choosing and chasing joy in times of crisis , and I think she embodies that in these lyrics — how joy is a right that we are all entitled to even when shit hits the fan. Our thoughts can get dangerously cyclical when it comes to the state of the world, and that’s no good for our mental health. She’s not ignoring that in this song. She’s saying control what you can, release what doesn’t serve you, and never forget to keep fighting for your joy and your love. This song is a beacon of light for anyone who needs it where we can vibe out, dance, and sing the frustration of our life away. Work can suck. Relationships can be hard. Finances can be a chore to put it lightly, but no matter what happens they (whether it’s the government, our abusers, our bosses, etc.,) can’t break our soul. No matter who they are, they can’t do that. Our soul is ours and no one else’s, and my pretend cousin Beyoncé Giselle Knowles-Carter wanted to remind us of that. Some of the best most influential works of art came after the darkest periods of history. Who knows if we’re actually there now, but this song gives me hope that maybe we could be and that maybe brighter days are just around the corner. I’m willing to wait for them, and in the meantime when things feel overwhelming, I just have to remember they can’t break my soul.

Desirable Mental Health Reflections That You Want Your Partner to Say

Thirst trap N. A piece of content posted on social media in hopes of attracting suitors into your direct messages (DMs). Ah, how I love a good thirst trap. Posting them, responding to them, planning them, you name it. It’s one of the only fun parts of dating (granted I’m a libra who craves attention so any amount of peacocking makes my heart happy). Flaunting and strutting your stuff is the best when it comes to the cat and mouse game, but that’s not what seals the deal. That’s proper mental health awareness and wellness practices and routines. You know what I’m talking about – going to therapy, great communication skills, validation, etc., Given that it feels like mental health has become a bit more mainstream, more people are pursuing wellness for themselves in the name of personal growth and it’s honestly sexy as hell. How many relationships have we been in where the person refuses to have any personal accountability, will utilize their trauma as an excuse versus a reason, and thus here we are getting gaslit in the name of love . Yeah, bullshit. I’m committed to my growth, and I refuse to ever commit to anyone else who isn’t when it comes to theirs. That’s where mental health thirst traps come into play. It’s when they say the right things, and then they mean what they say, and if they don’t know what they feel they seek professional help instead of projecting it on to you that genuinely makes shivers go down my spine. If you still aren’t familiar with some great mental health thirst traps, here are just a few as an example. Proper conflict management = Let me introduce you to my parents real quick… “I’m not in the best space to talk about this, can we revisit this another time?” “I understand what I did that hurt you. While that wasn’t my intention, I am sorry that I did.” “I’m a little upset at the moment, but I want you to know that I’m not leaving you, nor could I ever hate you. I just need some time to myself right now before I’m in a place to solve this. I love you.” “Your feelings are 100% valid, and I’m sorry.” Intentional support? Sorry, I thought you said “Will you marry me?” “Good morning. Is there any way I can suppor t you today?” “I can tell you’re upset. What kind of support would help the most right now?” “I had a rough day, here are the ways I could use your support.” Did you mention your therapist? You do know I love Tiffany’s, right? “I was working on my therapist with this…” “My therapist helped me see where I went wrong in my past relationships.” “I used to have this issue, but my therapist has helped me work through it.” Nothing is more suave than self-reflection. “As much as my ex had their flaws, I had my own part to play and here’s what it was…” “This is one of my flaws as a human being and it’s something I’m actively working on by doing this…” “I’m not proud of the person I used to be, but I’m happy I’m growing in to someone better.” All that and emotional validation? See you at the courthouse. “I know you’ve had to be ‘strong’ in the past, but you don’t have to be here. It’s OK to be upset.” “You’re still a human being with emotions. Please treat yourself kindly.” “You’re not being nice to the person I love.” These are the mental health thirst traps that make me want to slide my wedding and dream ring pin board into their email, with a reminder that my ring size is four and a half. I’ll be honest –  a nice car and career is always nice, but the biggest and best turn on will always be self awareness and a commitment to personal growth, and that’s on Marvin Gaye.

Billie Eilish Sheds Light On How Anxiety Can Show in Children

Recently Billie Eilish opened up about their childhood anxiety, telling the world how she shared a bed with her parents until the age of 11 and how emotionally distraught she’d be if she couldn’t. When speaking with The Sunday Times magazine, they said, “I couldn’t be away from my parents. I was worried about what would happen to them, I was worried about what would happen to me, I was worried about being forgotten…I couldn’t sleep by myself. If I woke up and my parents weren’t in the bed, and the lights were off, I would scream until they came to the door.” Children tend to show anxiety in different and similar ways to adults, especially due to the fact that they may not always have the words to communicate that what they’re feeling is anxiety. Oftentimes, they’ll show it through their actions, crying and screaming as Billie mentioned, but also in ways that may not be as obvious. In “ 9 Surprising Physical Symptoms of Childhood Anxiety “, we see that anxiety can manifest as what could be considered common physical symptoms or ailments. What is actually a symptom of anxiety could look like physical ailments, like a stomach bug. Some of these symptoms can look like: Nausea/vomiting Headaches Gastrointestinal issues Hives It’s important to know these signs of anxiety in children because unlike an adult who can potentially say, “Hey, I’m dealing with some severe anxiety. I need a minute,” children may not be able to communicate the same thing. Luckily, however, there are ways to help manage anxiety in children as caretakers and adults. As seen in “ 5 Anxiety-Reducing Tools to Use With Children ,” there are different exercises that we can do to support children with their anxiety such as: 1. Dragon Breathing. A breathing exercise that’s creatively framed because, y’know, children. When telling a child to dragon breathe, you’re going to tell them to take a deep breath in through their nose for a few sustained seconds, hold it, and then to release it and “breathe fire” slowly. 2. Yoga. Anxiety can be physical and live in the body, so engaging in yoga or something similar to it that involves moving your body while also deep breathing could be excellent for helping them get through anxious periods. 3. Spaghetti body or progressive muscle relaxation. This is an exercise where your child will practice tensing up and releasing their body back to back, but in a fun way by telling your kid to act like “uncooked” spaghetti, which is rigid and stiff, and then “uncooked spaghetti” which is loosey goosey. The idea is for your child to be able to be aware of where anxiety hides in the body, and to become more aware of when they’re feeling triggered. Billie Eilish isn’t alone with having lived through childhood anxiety. It’s good they had their parents to support them through it as well. At the end of the day, that’s what makes the biggest difference for a child with anxiety — supportive, loving, and engaging parents.

Lessons From Maddie Ziegler Going 'No Contact' With Abby Lee Miller

The world watched Maddie Ziegler grow up on the hit reality show “Dance Moms,” and since leaving the show in 2016, the dancer and actor has appeared in music videos (notably, Sia’s “Chandelier” video), movies (she had a controversial role in Sia’s “Music” and most recently a role in “West Side Story”), and she even has a podcast with her sister. When Ziegler looks back to the time of her life that launched her into the public eye, though, she refers to the experience as “toxic.” She discussed how she feels about her “Dance Moms” past in a new interview with Cosmopolitan. When asked about the stress she experienced on the show, she said: “The pressure of being known as, ‘Oh, she’s the girl that always wins,” then to not win or to have another girl beat me was the end of the world. Because that’s what I was taught: to not win or to have another girl beat me was the end of the world. My dance teacher taught that if you don’t get the trophy, if you don’t get the crown, you are less than, which is the worst way to train a kid. It carries into other life lessons. We also weren’t allowed to watch our competitors or be friends with them. I’ve had to unlearn a lot of those things.” After realizing they’d be more at peace if they left the show and lived away from the cameras and the drama of reality TV, she and her mom struggled to get out of their contract. When they finally did, now infamous “Dance Moms” coach Abby Lee Miller was not thrilled to say the least. Ziegler revealed she actually no longer speaks to Miller, who according to the interview, was notorious for yelling at kids on the show and has “spent her post–Dance Moms career embroiled in legal and financial woes.” “She was distraught. For the longest time, we felt so guilty. She trained me, she helped me, but also, I knew I would be okay without her and I was sick of being in a toxic environment. I was like, ‘This is not for me. I can’t do this.’ I haven’t spoken to her since.” Since the interview launched, Miller responded on her YouTube channel. “If it was so toxic, why did you keep doing it?” she said, defending her role in Ziegler’s life. In the video, she claims she never explicitly told Ziegler she was “less than” for not winning, and that Ziegler had a choice every step of the way. (A reminder that Ziegler was 8 years old when the show started.) Going “no contact” with someone who was toxic to you is hard, and I imagine doing so with someone who you were on a nationally syndicated television show with for the world to see is even harder. I believe there’s a lot we could learn from Ziegler when it comes to protecting our peace and going “no contact” with people, places, jobs, etc. 1. Don’t check up on them, even when curiosity strikes. Ziegler revealed that she hasn’t revisited that time of her life at all. This includes rewatching episodes (showing her boyfriend part of an episode so he could see what she looked like was a quick exception) and talking to Miller. Sometimes when we leave toxic relationships, places, or people, we get the urge to check up on them and see what they’re up to. Don’t do it. Don’t reopen the wound. Let the past stay in the past, process it in the present, and hope to move on and heal in the future. 2. It’s OK to explore parts of yourself that you couldn’t before going “no contact.” Control is a huge factor in toxic relationships, and that means there may be parts of yourself you didn’t feel comfortable exploring and expressing prior to going “no contact.” For Ziegler, it was being anything less than “perfect,” which for a dancer means perfect lines, pointed feet, etc. Through working with other artists, she allowed herself to explore more “flawed” dancing styles which ultimately helped her discover new passions she otherwise wouldn’t have known. Challenge what you were told not to do, whether it’s with your emotions, hobbies, activities, or even your professional life. You never know what you may learn about yourself. 3. It’s OK to acknowledge the good times, even in the dark memories. Towards the end of her conversation with Cosmo, Ziegler was asked if she would unpublicize any part of her life if she could. She answered she would not — that there were still good memories, and she wanted to keep those. When we experience something traumatic or toxic, it’s easy to be bitter and resentful towards even the good things you remember. Sometimes I personally wish I didn’t remember the good at all, but I do because it was just as real as the abuse and trauma. One doesn’t overpower another, but both experiences can co-exist.

Why One Woman Doesn't Care That She's Suicidal Anymore

I don’t care that I’m suicidal anymore. This isn’t me waving a white flag, signaling to the world that I’m about to cave in a long and arduous battle between me and my suicidality and thus I’m writing my goodbyes. It’s the complete opposite. I’m at peace with my suicidality, because I know nothing is going to happen. Let me backtrack: I’ve been chronically suicidal, ranging from moderate to severe ranges of passive to active suicidality for the better part of the last decade . I’ve had moments where I’m happy I stayed alive and moments where I’m bitter and resentful toward myself for not following through with it prior in life. Every time I thought things were “getting better” and it was “worth it,” something else came along in life to prove the opposite. I fought the suicidal thoughts to the best of my ability, because “it isn’t normal to feel this way,” or so I’ve been told, but honestly? It was for me. I tell people the reason I don’t see my attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) as a disability (even though it is) is because it’s as natural to me as breathing. Sure, things can get tricky and the world doesn’t really accommodate it, but for me personally, it doesn’t disrupt my life or day to day in the way it does for a lot of people. I see suicidality in the same way. Suicidality isn’t healthy or OK in a lot of ways because it’s a slippery slope. When thoughts go back and forth between passive and active, it’s easy for those thoughts to manifest in potentially negative and harmful actions, and for me, it has in the past once or twice, but I didn’t follow through for the same reasons I don’t know. Most “normal” people don’t experience suicidal thoughts, but I do. They come to me with the same flippant tone as “I need to walk the dog,” or “I didn’t drink water today.” Passing fleeting thoughts that don’t interrupt or disrupt my daily life. I can speak to my suicidality and the fact that I can’t confidently say I’m happy to be alive while fully knowing I’m not going to, and never will, take actions to end it. Not because of some big milestone like marriage or a future family, but rather I’m just not going to do it. It’s one of those, “If I could, I would, but I can’t, so I won’t,” situations and not because of ability or resources available. Rather, I don’t want my dog to be alone and I have this thing happening in two years that I kinda need to stick around for. That, and I have a flight I already spent money on so I don’t want to waste money there. It’s more of a scheduling situation where I’m booked out for the next 15 to 16 years at least. People try to talk to me about my suicidal thoughts like it’s a problem, or something I should be concerned about, and once upon a time I was, but then I stopped fighting it. I stopped caring that I was suicidal. Fighting it only made it worse whereas leaning into the thoughts helped me actually navigate them and all the other associated feelings of loneliness, grief, and despair. Accepting my suicidality and its incessant and pervasive nature, made me able to function alongside it. Like Eddie Brock and Venom or Banner and The Hulk, my suicidality is a part of me that the more I work with it versus against it, the more I’m able to actually live my life (even if I don’t want to). So yes, I’m suicidal. I’m always suicidal. There isn’t a single day where I’m not suicidal, but I’m at peace with it and I know I’m going to stick around for a long time (sadly). All that being said, knowing I live this way, I keep myself safe to the best of my ability keeping anything I could or would use way out of my reach (because with ADHD I’m nine out of 10 times less likely to try if there’s a barrier in my way even if it’s small). I’m self-aware, but I’m safe. Isn’t that what counts? If my suicidality isn’t a problem for me, nor does it impact my quality of life in the same way that depression does, then why spend so much energy fighting against it? I’ve accepted it, and I just wish other people would, too.

5 Easy Shows to Watch When You Need to Relax

I love watching TV. What I don’t love, however, is always having to consume media that ultimately pushes me to critically think when my brain is already too loud for me to handle. Maybe it’s the fact that I have to use my brain every day for work, or because I’m a chronic overthinker with mental health struggles, but nothing, and I mean nothing, makes me more thankful than finding a good show that allows me to just turn my brain the hell off. Shows like that are hard to find, but luckily due to chronically running from my issues (don’t tell my therapist), I have a nifty list of great mind-numbing media to soak in when it’s all too much. 1. “The Boondocks” This is for my Black Mighties. Are there problematic tendencies? Yes, but it’s very self-aware in the same way “The Office” is that makes it laughable and tolerable. “The Boondocks” never fails to make me crack up, even when the topic matter is serious (re: The R. Kelly episode). It tells the story of a grandpa and his two grandsons in the suburbs, navigating America for what it is. Even though race is a major part of the show, it isn’t draining nor is it full of trauma porn . It’s lighthearted, funny, and timeless. For all the ways I consider “The Boondocks” to be a perfect show, I can’t encapsulate in words how amazing this show is for when I simply don’t want to think (or exist). No dense, thick plot that you have to follow along with. It doesn’t matter what season you watch or what episode. You can turn it on and turn your brain off, all while laughing at our inner community problems (which is sometimes hard to do). This show is very explicit. So please watch with caution. 2. “Big Mouth” While sometimes grotesque and obnoxious, I do believe “Big Mouth” is one of the most emotionally intelligent shows to exist. It’s loudly honest about the lives of a group of tweens and teens who are going through puberty, questioning their sexuality, first kisses, and more, all at once. Hormone monsters, anxiety mosquitos , and depression kitties make this show pop in ways I sincerely didn’t expect. The best part is that you can choose how much you want to really engage with the storyline or not. You can follow up every episode and stick with the plot, or turn on a random episode and just dive in. You’re bound to laugh, but none of the jokes really poke fun at individuals (even in the super aware way “The Office” does). 3. “The Office” I mentioned it twice, so I might as well put it next. I don’t feel I need to explain this one. If you’re a millennial, you probably know someone who has made this show their entire personality (if it’s not you). I know a lot of people don’t prefer the dry humor associated with “The Office,” but if that’s your jam then this show could be perfect for you. With an amazing ensemble cast with personal lives you do get invested in, but you also don’t have to get invested in, “The Office” will forever be a show where it’s so easy to lean back and just enjoy the cringe until it inevitably puts you to sleep. 4. “Abbott Elementary” I fell down a rabbit hole watching clips from this show in preparation to write this section. “Abbott Elementary” isn’t as dry as “The Office” but is still a mockumentary. One of the highest rated sitcoms on television at the moment, “Abbott Elementary” tells the tale of a slew of teachers in an underfunded public school who are all just trying to do their jobs to the best of their abilities, unless it’s Ava, the principal. It’s quick, clever, and it’s hard not to crack up incessantly at this show. 5. “What We Do in The Shadows” Can you tell I love mockumentaries? “What We Do in The Shadows” is a television show based on the universe created in the movie released in the 2014 film directed by Taika Waititi. It’s about a found family of vampires who are navigating the modern world and the monstrous world all at once. It’s hysterical and a bit more occult than the other options on this list. My favorite character is Colin Robinson. He’s a vampire, but not a blood-sucking one. No, he’s an energy vampire. Don’t believe me? See for yourself. I definitely believe there are more, but right now these are the top shows I navigate to where I won’t have to ignore overly problematic tendencies or themes, and I can just vibe the hell out. Sometimes it’s a good thing that the media makes us get introspective. Media can shift and change a lot about the world, but there’s no harm in the media existing just to exist and to make us smile. I think we need more of that.

Why Michael Scott From 'The Office' Is Perfect ADHD Representation

Once I read, “If you don’t know a Michael Scott, you are the Michael Scott.” I wanted to ignore it, but then I realized I actually don’t know any Michael Scotts around me. Scared, I texted all of my friends asking them and the answer was unanimous – I was the Michael Scott from “The Office” out of my friend group. While this isn’t horrible, it definitely didn’t make me happy because Michael is known to get into some “shenanigans” due to his chatty, impulsive, and almost childlike nature. It didn’t make me feel great that the one character that everyone made fun of because of how out-of-touch they were with the world is the one character that made me say, “Oh, I feel seen.” As I grew I learned about attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and how most of the traits that can cause me trouble in life stem from that one disorder. From my forgetfulness to my issues with object permanence, all the way to the fact that I don’t know how to shut my mouth… all points lead to ADHD . Knowing I was living with this condition and how heavily I related to Michael Scott, I then realized that he is basically the poster-perfect image of ADHD. Every trait that I could think of, he exemplifies, which felt like a double-edged sword because those same traits tend to be the source of tension for what feels like 90% of the plot. The same traits that make the other characters roll their eyes, want to ignore him, or even hate him, are the traits that are known to come with ADHD whether it’s inattentive or hyperactive type. A few key examples: 1. Michael’s tangential thinking In the episode “The Search,” Michael goes missing and no one quite knows where to find him. Traditional and sequential thinking doesn’t help the team when it comes to figuring out exactly where he went or how he’s moving. It took another (seemingly) ADHD character, Holly Flax, to figure out his more lateral thinking methods, which were based completely on tangential moves and dare I say, a little forgetfulness. He’d see a sign-up sheet or sign and that immediately because the next thing he focused on versus maintaining the same goal throughout the plot (which was to get back to Dunder Mifflin). 2. Michael’s hyperfixations “When I discovered YouTube, I didn’t work for five days,” is a literal quote that Michael says. It’s very easy for him to interact with one thing and make it his whole personality for a stretch of time in the same way I make baking my entire personality once every five years. Another great example was when he came back from Jamaica (the tan all over, Jan all over line will forever be one of my favorite lines from this show) and he came with steel drums, and wouldn’t let that bit go for almost the entire episode. I think we can also count his creation of “Threat Level Midnight,” a self-produced movie that he and all the rest of the cast starred in as a hyperfixation as well. 3. Michael’s sensitivity to rejection (rejection-sensitive dysphoria) Michael is a very sensitive person, and with that comes a heightened sensitivity to rejection. For example, the entirety of the “Sweeney Todd” episode, he’s fixated on how he wasn’t contacted to be in the show and it basically rips him apart. Also, when Holly was dating someone else, he literally destroyed the sentimental toy that her boyfriend had gotten her. That sounds like RSD to me. At first, seeing your condition unintentionally (and unofficially) be the butt of the jokes hurt, but that’s before I really started paying attention to Michael’s connections with other people. I saw how loved he was regardless of his eccentricity at times, and how he still managed to find love, friends, and success. I think so often it’s easy to feel like ADHD can hold you back, but quite frankly, Michael Scott is (in my opinion) one of the most positive, well-rounded representations of ADHD out there. He shows it can be as much a blessing and a superpower as it can be a curse. The glass isn’t half full or half empty, it just is, and if he’s able to “have it all,” with all of those traits , why can’t I?  

What Your Favorite Disney Princess Says About Your Mental Health

If you’re a millennial you have probably been categorized in life by some fan-related question. “Which cabin would you be in in ‘Percy Jackson?’” “Which Avenger do you think you are?” “Who is your favorite Disney princess?” If I had a penny for every time I’ve been asked that question, I wouldn’t be in debt. Your favorite Disney princess does say a lot about you though, in my opinion. Living in Orlando, Florida, I can’t walk more than five feet without seeing some form of Disney merchandise, and with that comes stories of what people have gone through, and how they’re currently processing it. I have to say, I’ve seen some trends in regards to favorite Disney princesses and mental health and trauma, and I’m curious to see just how many people really relate to their favorite character’s struggles and coping mechanisms. If your favorite Disney princess is… Rapunzel Ah Rapunzel. Chronically lonely, waiting for someone to listen to her and yet there’s no one around. She’s so used to listening to someone that she thought she could trust, only to find out that she couldn’t. If Rapunzel is your favorite princess, you probably felt trapped for a while, afraid to make your own decisions because you had no choice but to listen to someone else due to either manipulation or simply you now knowing better. You struggle with trusting your own instincts, and because of that you overly lean on other people and that can sometimes get you in trouble, which is a whole anxiety situation in itself. Trust your instincts! I know it gives you anxiety, but I promise, you can trust yourself. Tiana How’s that hyper independence going for you? Tiana has had no choice but to work two jobs her whole life because there were no handouts, no one she could call to help her, and even after having the means to secure her dream people still got in the way. She ends up finding people who can help, but the exact moment things seem to not be going right she runs. You definitely struggle with trusting others, which is the opposite of Rapunzel. You’ve had to work so hard by yourself to get everything done, that you don’t trust other people to either keep their word or get things done in the way you need them to be. Maybe a slight perfectionist on top of that. It’s OK to need others. Promise. Trust is a muscle, and if you don’t stretch it out and use it, it only gets weaker. Cinderella Escapism is the name of the game for you, ain’t it? Life gets hard, and oftentimes when it does for Cindy she has to go into her own head to escape from it all. Dreams are just dreams, and as much as they’re an escape, it’s also a means to forget that dreams can be a reality. It’s OK to believe good things can happen to you. Escapism can help, and it’s not an inherently bad thing, though maladaptive daydreaming can be. Reality can be scary, but confronting it (and fighting for your dreams) is possible and so excruciatingly important. Jasmine You’re rebellious, aren’t you? Everyone outside of Jasmine kept trying to make decisions for her, and that drove her to literally running away and fleeing. Speaking up for herself was important, but it also caused some reckless and impulsive behavior, which is what you tend to do, or want to do. Yes, life can be tough, but being reckless and impulsive sets you up for more failure more often than not. I get that you may also struggle with a fight trauma response, which also may make things harder for you. Take a deep breath; not everyone is out to get you and dashing your way through life without thinking just to get away can make things a bit more difficult for you. Anna How is it being chronically lonely and having no friends? Anna spends her whole life on her own even though she does have a sister that loves her very much. She keeps herself preoccupied, and is so desperate for love, attention, and care that she almost dooms her entire kingdom (granted, Elsa did almost unintentionally kill everyone and I personally think that’s worse, but that’s my personal opinion). You have people who love you, but you don’t feel like your needs are being met, so you internalize them or go out seeking attention from people who don’t actually have your best interest at heart. Don’t be afraid to communicate your needs to others as relationships (platonic or otherwise) are a two (or multi) way street. We all grew up with Disney (for the most part) and it shaped so many of us. Just remember, what shaped us doesn’t have to make us. Your past isn’t your future, and you’re completely in charge of your own destiny. Let those dreams fly and as Walt said it best, “Fantasy and reality often overlap.” Dream big princess, and take care of yourself while you’re at it too. How accurate was I? Was your favorite princess on the list? Comment below and let me know.

5 Black Mental Health TEDx Talks to Watch

Ah, yes. TED Talks, the one thing I tend to gravitate towards whenever I feel my life going up into flames. What I love about TED Talks is that there’s something for every single situation and life moment that you can think of. Nothing is too niche, and it’s because of that I’m always able to find something to assure me with where I am in life. As a Black woman who struggles with her mental health, I’m always looking for TED Talks that speak exactly to that. Sometimes self-help books just don’t cut it, and I need to hear advice from people with lived experience, and not just a paid professional. That’s why these TED Talks are my favorite, because they do just that. I’ve compiled five of my favorite TED Talks speaking specifically to Black people, by Black people, on Black mental health . Hopefully these help you, and if not I’m sure there will be something done soon by a TED Talk professional that will eventually speak to you. 1. Dying While Black: Links Between Mental Health, Chronic Stress, & Death | Ashley McGirt | TEDx SFU This TED Talk speaks specifically to the link between stress, mental health, and death for Black folk. This is such a prevalent issue since due to racial stigmas, barriers, and stereotypes, Black folk typically aren’t allowed rest in the same way as some of our counterparts. In this TED Talk we get to hear about why preventative care is so important for Black folk with mental health issues, paired with real life experiences and health care facts. Worth the watch. 2. The Black Male Mental Health Struggle | Curtis Jasper | TEDx GeorgiaTech Salon There’s a mental health crisis for Black men, and Curtis Jasper speaks specifically to that in this TED Talk. In this Black male mental health state of the union, he speaks on the barriers keeping Black men away from accessible health care from mental health professionals, along with what we can do to fight back against it. 3. Black Folk Mental Health: Generational Trauma, Traditions & Truth | Jelan Agnew | TEDx Delthorne Women “The more you cry, the less you pee,” is how this TED Talk opens up. I have to say, this one is definitely one of my favorites and it hits close to home. It talks about what it’s like to live as a Black person to have generational trauma passed on to you, not due to negligence or malice, rather this is what our parents knew and did to survive, and now they want the same for us. Generational trauma is based in survival and protection, and that mindset really changes how I look at my own generational trauma. 4. Reimagining Mental Health Discourse Among African Americans | Shaun J. Fletcher, PhD | TEDx SJSU Shaun J. Fletcher, PhD, speaks to the ways that we discuss mental health for Black Americans , and how we are actually one of the highest groups to experience mental health issues and not receive adequate or accessible care. This TED Talk is great because it’s full of firsthand experience, in addition to the mental health professional angle as well. 5. Changing views on mental health in the Black community | Chante Meadows | TEDx King-Lincoln Bronzeville This is another TED Talk speaking to the way we view Black mental health within our own community. In this TED Talk she talks about our perceptions of mental health in our community and how it ultimately shapes how we tackle mental health. Knowing there are so many more resources for Black mental health now compared to what there was years ago makes my heart happy. We still have a long way to go, but this is still a giant leap forward.