Kelly Douglas

@kelly-douglas | staff
Mighty LeaderSuper Contributor
Kelly Douglas is a Contributor Editor for The Mighty and is also the Community Leader for The Mighty’s Recovery Warriors community. She graduated from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo in 2016 with a B.S. in Psychology and a minor in Law and Society and is excited to share her knowledge with others in recovery. Kelly is passionate about sharing her experiences with others through writing and is the also the Senior Editor for Unwritten, an online magazine dedicated to millennial life. Her work has also been featured on Her Campus, HelloGiggles, POPSUGAR, Project Wednesday, HerStory, Finding Bohemia, Thought Catalog, YourTango, Shape, ScreenRant, MSN and Yahoo!, as well as in the “Written By…” anthology. When she is not writing, editing, or supporting fellow Mighties in recovery, Kelly enjoys listening to music, watching true crime shows, and cuddling all the cats. Follow her on Instagram @kellychristine333 or on Twitter @kellywrites333.

Pottery Barn Launches Stylish Accessible Furniture Line

Pottery Barn is the first luxury home retailer to roll out an accessible furniture line — and the new collection is groundbreaking for people with disabilities. The Accessible Home, a 160-piece collection, features accessible chairs, tables and desks that can accommodate wheelchair users, non-slip rugs, unbreakable plates, pivoting mirrors, and accessible beds as well as grab bars to install in bathrooms and bedrooms. Unlike some other accessible product lines, Pottery Barn’s collection used its original furniture pieces as inspiration for its accessible ones. The desks, chairs, and tables in the collection don’t look substantially different from their original counterparts, and some pieces’ features — like extra padding in love seats — are nearly inconspicuous. With its focus on both style and comfort, Pottery Barn’s accessible furniture can easily blend into any room — which may help normalize using adaptive furniture in homes across the country. Pottery Barn’s designers also collaborated with experts in the adaptive product industry with the aim of offering “style without sacrificing comfort and accessibility.” The retailer’s emphasis on both safety and style is refreshing in a world full of adaptive items that prioritize function over appearance. The Accessible Home collection is created with people with many types of disabilities in mind, but its stylish, everyday appearance is far from the clinical-looking products many other retailers offer disabled customers. Marta Benson, the president of Pottery Barn, shared that the company is “excited to now better serve… customers’ specific needs with The Accessible Home.” She also stated that Pottery Barn’s mission is to “incorporate accessibility into everything we do — providing beautiful, thoughtful design that makes home a more comfortable place for everyone.” A more comfortable home that’s stylish and accessible? Sign us up! We’re excited that furniture retailers are beginning to prioritize crafting accessible items that are more than just functional — they can also make every room feel like home. The Accessible Home collection is now available on Pottery Barn’s website and at select stores.

Kamala Harris Shouldn't Be Attacked for Using Visual Descriptions for the Blind

Vice President Kamala Harris broke new ground for accessibility when she used a visual description in a White House roundtable meeting with multiple disability advocates. The meeting, which occurred on Tuesday, July 26, was held to commemorate the thirty-second anniversary of the passage of the Americans With Disabilities Act. A now-viral clip of the event shows Harris describing her appearance in order to make the roundtable more accessible to those who are blind or have visual impairments. “I am Kamala Harris, my pronouns are she and her, and I am a woman sitting at the table wearing a blue suit,” the vice president explained. Some political leaders — including members of Congress — have mocked Harris for her decision to kick off the roundtable meeting with a visual description of herself. However, visual descriptions can help both blind and visually impaired people feel more in tune with their surroundings and pick up relevant environmental cues. Using these descriptions in an important meeting revolving around issues affecting the disability community could help participants feel welcomed and included in a way they may not in everyday life. The National Federation of the Blind has not taken a firm stance on the use of visual descriptions as an accessibility tool, but Chris Danielson, a spokesperson for the organization, says the use of visual descriptions is complex. According to Danielson, some blind people welcome the use of visual descriptions, while others believe the practice detracts from creating accessible presentation materials for meetings and isn’t necessarily an accommodation the blind community requests. “It kind of seems to some of us like one of those things that sighted people have decided to do, but it’s not necessarily something we said would be helpful,” Danielson elaborated. Anil Lewis, the executive director of blindness initiatives at the National Federation of the Blind, has a slightly different take on the use of visual descriptions. Lewis said that while not all members of the blind and visually impaired community fully support the use of visual descriptions, including a description is “useful for those who want it, while those who don’t can ignore it.” Regardless, Harris shouldn’t be attacked for her decision to include a visual description in Tuesday’s disability roundtable meeting. “Attacking [Vice President Harris for using visual descriptions] is inappropriate because the intent is at least inclusive,” Danielson concluded. Accessibility often starts from the top down, so Kamala Harris’s decision to use visual descriptions in a meeting with disability advocates is a step in the right direction— and doesn’t deserve mockery. Hopefully, more people use Harris as an example of how to strive for inclusion and educate themselves about how to make events accessible not just to the blind community but also to the disability community as a whole.

Becoming an Employment Law Paralegal Because of ADA Rights

I’ve never known life without the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA). I was born with cerebral palsy five years after the ADA was passed, and to say I took the Act for granted is a massive understatement. It wasn’t until I started searching for jobs post-college that I realized just how many rights the ADA affords me — and the extent to which the Act can be violated. I had long heard stories of people with cerebral palsy applying to job after job without so much as an interview, but I confidently pushed those doubts to the back of my mind as I began my own job search. I landed some work through a temp agency, but at my first temp assignment, the work quickly dried up when my supervisors realized I couldn’t properly use a letter opener — and I was sent home in tears. I was soon able to find more temp work, but it was clear that my physical abilities and my mental health didn’t always allow me to reach the goals my supervisors had set out. I successfully completed several weeks at a university bookstore but was told I wasn’t applying barcode stickers quickly enough. At another temp job placement, I had a panic attack at work and was promptly dismissed on account of “being on my phone too much” — despite never having touched my phone outside of lunch breaks. I felt absolutely defeated — as if the ADA couldn’t protect me from the challenges of being disabled and mentally ill in the workplace. That same year, I opened up about my life with cerebral palsy for the first time and became acquainted with many others who live with CP. As I joined online support groups for people with cerebral palsy, fellow members’ workplace woes constantly seemed to rise to the forefront. I observed as others answered questions about whether or not to disclose disability on a job application (absolutely not — unless it’s required), when to share that you need workplace accommodations (definitely after you fill out your employment contract), and when it was “worth it” to pursue legal action against an employer (almost never). The responses left me feeling disheartened about the struggles I continued to face as I searched for meaningful employment. If the ADA couldn’t protect us in the workplace, who would? At long last, I landed a job. In my first couple of years in the workforce, I worried about accidentally revealing that I have a disability and that I also struggle with anxiety and depression. Thankfully, that never explicitly happened, but my worsening mental health and my insistence on never asking for accommodations led me to feel stressed and overwhelmed enough that I was eventually fired from a position I’d really hoped I’d keep — two full weeks after my 90-day probationary period ended. I was never given a reason for my termination, but I suspected it was at least vaguely related to my mental health. Last year, after years of working jobs that never seemed to suit me, I decided to shift my focus and work towards a paralegal certificate. I had no clear idea of what type of law office I might want to work in after I received my certificate, but I felt like employment law might be the right direction. I was fairly certain that I had witnessed some ADA violations in the few years before I had become self-employed, and I didn’t want any other workers with disabilities to go through everything I had. I wanted every worker to have a fair chance at securing gainful employment — regardless of ability status — and I was positive that conducting legal research on employment law cases as a paralegal could help people with disabilities successfully remediate ADA rights violations at work. As the anniversary of the passage of the Americans With Disabilities Act approaches and I finish my final quarter of paralegal school, I’m certain that employment law is the right field for me. I’ve taken an employment law class and connected deeply with the rights the ADA affords workers. I’ve completed my paralegal capstone project — in which I expressed how strongly I feel about helping employers and employees alike work in environments that feel safe and accepting. But my capstone project can never fully reflect the truth behind why I feel so vehemently about employment law: I’ve been one of the many employees with disabilities who have faced ableist workplace practices. I’ve been turned away from jobs for the tasks I struggle to complete instead of being welcomed for the skills I bring to the table. I’ve felt terrified to be disabled at work — even in a post-ADA world — because employers still ignore the Americans With Disabilities Act. I’d be the ideal employment law paralegal not just because of my coursework and legal writing skills, but also because I’ve experienced potential employment law violations firsthand as a person with a disability. Thirty-two years after the Americans With Disabilities Act was passed, I no longer take my rights for granted — and I want my future career to help others gain back ADA rights in the workplace. The ADA may still be sparsely enforced in workplace settings, but it’s given the disability community agency to showcase their full potential as employees — and it’s guided me towards my future career.

Constance Wu Shows How Harmful Adult Cyberbullying Can Be

“Fresh Off the Boat” star Constance Wu recently took to Twitter to open up about the serious toll cyberbullying took on her life — and her story matters. Wu recalled the pain she felt after tweeting her disappointment about “Fresh Off the Boat” receiving a sixth season in 2019 and shared the backlash she faced from complete strangers and fellow celebrities alike. In a statement released the day after Wu tweeted about the TV show’s renewal, she explained she was upset because the renewal meant she “had to give up another project” she was passionate about. That didn’t stop the internet hate, though, so Wu ultimately left social media for three years. Constance Wu is now back on Twitter, and her most recent tweet was raw and revealing, explaining just how deeply internet cyberbullying affected her mental health. Wu shared that she attempted suicide after a fellow Asian actress told her she’d become “a blight on the Asian American community.” “I started feeling like I didn’t deserve to live anymore,” Wu admitted. She then expressed gratitude that a friend found her after her suicide attempt and rushed her to the emergency room. Sadly, Constance Wu’s story of adult cyberbullying is all too common. Although we may associate cyberbullying with teenagers, a study published in 2019 showed that 40 percent of young adults have been cyberbullied, and cyberbullying has also affected plenty of older adults too. Celebrities are among the most-targeted adult cyberbullying victims, but with the popularity of social media platforms and the anonymity and access they provide, cyberbullying can affect adults of all backgrounds. For over a decade, the media has published a myriad of stories about how the internet can be a dangerous place for teens but has largely ignored the reality — many adults are cyberbullied, and the bullying can significantly affect their mental health. Adult cyberbullying has been linked to anxiety, depression, and substance use, but the long-term impacts of adults facing hatred through social media and messaging apps has yet to be fully revealed. Studies have also determined that cyberbullied adults under 25 years old are twice as likely to self-harm or attempt suicide than those who have not been bullied online. However, as Constance Wu has shown in discussing her three-year-long mental health journey on Twitter, the mental health effects of cyberbullying don’t just disappear — so we need more research about mental health recovery in older adults who have faced online bullying. It’s painfully clear that teenagers aren’t the only ones being cyberbullied — even though they’re often the focus of cyberbullying studies. If you’ve been subjected to nasty comments about your appearance on social media or have been mocked in a group chat as an adult, your experiences are valid, and they deserve to be heard and respected. We’re proud of Constance Wu for sharing how deeply adult cyberbullying has affected her mental health. Her story is an important reminder that cyberbullying isn’t just a “teenager problem,” and it needs more attention.

How Non-Disabled People Can Support Disability Pride Month

July is Disability Pride Month — a time for people with disabilities to acknowledge the history of the disability community and the long, ongoing fight for disability rights. It’s also a month focused on sharing personal stories of disability and outwardly celebrating identifying as disabled. This month, it’s important for able-bodied people to recognize why Disability Pride Month exists and understand that they can support the disability community while still keeping the focus on people with disabilities. Here are five ways able-bodied people can support people with disabilities during Disability Pride Month. 1. Give people with disabilities a safe space to share their stories during Disability Pride Month. Disability Pride Month is full of articles and social media posts about managing symptoms and coming to terms with life with a disability — but being so vulnerable isn’t always easy. Some people in the disability community are new to self-identifying as disabled or sharing their personal experiences with disability, so it’s important to be as respectful and validating as possible. Show that you’re a safe person to share disability stories with by showing empathy and validating others’ lived experiences — while still recognizing that you won’t be able to fully understand what life with a disability is like. People with disabilities may be much more likely to open up to able-bodied friends and loved ones when they know they’re empathetic without assuming they know all of the nuances of being disabled. 2. Read up on disability history this Disability Pride Month. Disability Pride Month celebrates disability history — from the first self-advocates to fight for accessibility, education, employment rights, and resources for people with disabilities to those in the disability community who continue to push for equality for people with health conditions. Disability history is rarely taught in school, and it’s dark and sordid, but it contextualizes the disability justice movement and can serve as a reminder of why disability rights are so important. Reading up on disability history as an able-bodied person can bring institutionalization, disability discrimination, the disability rights movement, and the need for continuing advocacy to light and emphasize how far the disability community has come — and how far society still needs to go to treat people with disabilities equally to their able-bodied peers. 3. Shop small businesses owned by people with disabilities for Disability Pride Month. If you love shopping and want to be intentional about the businesses you support, try shopping businesses owned by people with disabilities. With unemployment rates higher in the disability community than among able-bodied people, shopping businesses that are run by or employ people with disabilities can help maintain lasting, sustainable work opportunities in the disability community. There are plenty of disabled-owned businesses to buy from, like URevolution, Rebirth Garments, Unhidden Clothing, Colletty’s Cookies, Ingenue Candle Company, and Candy Doll Club, and others on this list. They sell everything from adaptive clothing to pins to sweet treats. Shopping disabled- and neurodiverse-owned businesses lets you “shop small” and support an underemployed community too. 4. Donate to reputable disability organizations during Disability Pride Month. Disability nonprofits thrive on donations, and now’s the perfect time to donate to an organization you support. When you donate, research organizations that are founded by or actively backed by the disability community — some disability organizations actively work against the disability community because they aren’t founded or run by people with disabilities themselves. Donating to organizations like the Autistic Self Advocacy Network, the National Down Syndrome Society, ADAPT, or the National Council on Independent Living can help advance advocacy and provide necessary resources for people with disabilities. 5. Teach your children about Disability Pride Month and people with disabilities. Many people with disabilities grew up hearing other children’s parents refuse to answer questions about disabilities — but times are changing. Find children’s books that highlight what life is like for children with disabilities, and encourage your children to ask questions. Explain Disability Pride Month to your children in an age-appropriate way, and remind them of all of the reasons people with disabilities are proud of who they are. You can even explain that it’s OK to be curious about other people’s disabilities — but it’s also important to stop asking if a person with a disability doesn’t want to talk about their medical condition. Raising children who aren’t afraid of disability and are willing to learn starts early — and there’s no time like Disability Pride Month to start teaching your children that disabilities are part of many people’s lives. Disability Pride Month may feel like it’s exclusively for people with disabilities, but there are plenty of ways for able-bodied people to support the disability community this July. If you take these steps to support people with disabilities today, you can make them last long after the month is over and be a lifelong ally to the disability community.

How DARVO Can Help You Recognize Emotional Abuse

The acronym “DARVO” has been floating around the internet recently, and it’s sparking important conversations about recognizing emotional abuse. DARVO is a tactic many emotional abusers use to project their behavior onto their victims and gaslight emotional abuse survivors into believing they’re the ones who need to change their behavior — not their abusers. DARVO stands for “ Deny , Attack , and Reverse Victim and Offender .” Let’s break this down further: Deny: When an abuser is confronted about their behavior toward an abuse survivor, they may deny that they ever said or did what the survivor claims they did. This first portion of DARVO is a form of gaslighting — or making a person doubt the reality of their experiences. Attack: After denying that they ever participated in the offending action or actions, an emotional abuser may attack the victim of their abuse for mentioning that their actions were hurtful. They may try to put their victim down to dissuade them from attempting to discuss the abuse again or bring up unrelated incidents that paint the victim in a negative light. They may also say the abuse survivor is “too sensitive” or “can’t take a joke” to begin to make the survivor believe they alone are at fault. Reverse Victim and Offender: An emotional abuser may then try to make themselves out to be the victim of their own victim’s confrontation — no matter how calmly an emotional abuse survivor attempts to discuss the issue. The abuser may say that their victim is “hurting their feelings” or claim that the abuse survivor is “attacking” them for expressing how they feel about being attacked. The abuse survivor may then feel guilty for “hurting” their abuser and apologize for doing absolutely nothing wrong because they may genuinely believe that they are in the wrong for feeling hurt by something their abuser did or said. What DARVO looks like in conversation: Emotional abuse survivor: “I felt hurt when you told me that I’ll never be smart enough to have the career I want. It made me feel sad, hopeless, and unintelligent.” Emotional abuser: “I never said that. I said you have to work hard in school to succeed in any career. Don’t put words in my mouth!” (Deny) Emotional abuse survivor: “I remember you said that. It was after I finished studying on Monday. I told you how hard my classes are, and that’s how you responded.” Emotional abuser: “ I’m so tired of you always trying to accuse me of saying rude things about you! You never respect my opinions, and you always start drama with me. When will you stop being so sensitive?” (Attack) Emotional abuse survivor: “I’m sorry. I was just mad about the conversation we had about school. I hurt your feelings, and that was wrong of me.” Emotional abuser: “Well, I’m glad you at least see I’m hurt! You need to quit telling me I said things I never would have said. And you probably told all your friends what a horrible person I am too — even though you made this whole thing up! I’m so tired of you bullying me all the time!” (Reverse Victim and Offender) Emotional abuse survivor: “You’re not a horrible person, and you’re right — I should never have brought this up. Maybe I remembered it wrong. I’m so sorry for hurting you.” At first, the emotional abuse survivor in this conversation politely mentioned their experiences and how their abuser made them feel, but they ended up apologizing to their abuser because their abuser convinced them they are abusive instead. Emotional abusers will often deny that their actions were hurtful and deflect their victims away from the issue at hand. They’ll often use blaming and shaming tactics on their victims to make those who survive their abuse feel bad for them and may even try to garner apologies from their victims by portraying themselves as victims of their own victims’ actions. If you’re an emotional abuse survivor, you may legitimately feel like an abuser yourself after having so many conversations in which you’re made to feel like you’ve done something hurtful. Once you recognize others using DARVO on you, though, you may start to realize that you aren’t the problem. Abusers may use this strategy to twist conversations about their own hurtful actions in their favor because they don’t want to confront the reality that they did anything wrong or because they want survivors to remain afraid to speak up. If it doesn’t feel safe to speak any further with your emotional abuser about how their actions affected you, you don’t have to initiate those conversations. After these situations take place, try to remind yourself that you are a survivor of emotional abuse, your experiences are real and valid, and DARVO is meant to illegitimately convince you otherwise. If you need help remembering that you aren’t at fault, reach out to a safe, supportive person or call an emotional abuse support line if you can. The abuse you face is not your fault, you are entitled to feel hurt and upset about it, and you are never alone.

Writing About Health and Struggling With Disability Pride

“Some days, I want to scream,” I typed, fearful of how my friend would respond. But I pressed on — albeit hesitantly — until the text box on my phone filled with a litany of complaints. “I get so tired of my body not doing what I want it to do.” “I get tired of having full use of only one hand.” “I hate hiking because I always lose my footing going downhill.” “I hate feeling self-conscious about being barefoot around other people.” And then I pressed “send,” wondering if my friend would judge me for having days when I absolutely despise living with multiple health conditions despite openly writing about them on the internet. It’s those days when I feel like a living, breathing dichotomy. I’ve been disabled since birth, and I’m mentally ill. I’ve spent five years writing about embracing my medical life and encouraging others to accept their health conditions, but sometimes, I feel my own internalized ableism taking over. I feel angry at myself for not being able-bodied, frustrated with myself for struggling with anxiety and depression, and unhappy with myself for simply not being the most healthy, “productive” member of society.  I cry and I fret and I hurl self-loathing insults. I want to be anyone but who I am — anyone who doesn’t know medical jargon or has never needed to be on medication or who doesn’t have a clue that a tibialis tendon is a real body part and not something surgeons shout about on “Grey’s Anatomy.” I want to escape from my life — my medical life — until the storm finally settles, and I finally feel OK with being who I am. And then I carry on with life until the inevitable happens — I get frustrated with my body and annoyed with my mind, and yet again, I break down about how much I wish I were healthy. Cry. Rant. Self-soothe. Repeat in a few months. I constantly live with the pressure to not feel this way. I write about my health — sometimes in extremely positive ways. As a contributor editor for The Mighty, I even edit others’ health stories — but how would writers feel if they knew their editor hated living with her own health conditions some days? Some people I know and love have gently steered me towards the disconnect between my writing and advocacy and my self-image, and I’m fully aware I’m not exactly a glowing representation of unconditional love for my own disabled body and mentally ill mind — even though I write about the journey to reaching that point. I feel like a hypocrite for encouraging others to love themselves with their medical conditions and still having days when I absolutely hate the way my own health affects my body and my life. But maybe that just makes me human. As Disability Pride Month draws closer and closer, I find myself questioning how I can so easily rant to a friend about my health one day and celebrate my body, mind, and community just a week later. How can anything I write about learning to love my body, accepting my mental state, or putting health challenges into perspective ring true when I’ve shown others that some days, I’m just not there yet? How do I share everything my disability has given me and still mourn everything it’s taken away? How do I celebrate the years of work the disability community has put into fighting for equality and know that I sometimes treat myself like a second-class citizen because of my fraught relationship with my body? And how do I expect anyone to take me seriously as a health writer who absolutely hates certain aspects of her health? I wish I could wake up tomorrow on the first day of Disability Pride Month and feel proud of how much my body’s survived and my mind’s fought through. I wish I could look at myself in the mirror and see the resilient woman who carried herself through a childhood in the medical world, an adolescence fraught with low self-esteem and negative body image, and a young adulthood marked by a series of mental health struggles. I wish I could recognize just how much life with a disability has taught me about respect, kindness, and empathy for others and forgiveness for myself. But writing about my health doesn’t mean I’ll be able to easily take pride in it — and maybe that’s OK. Being a health writer doesn’t make me immune to the self-loathing, anger, frustration, and internalized ableism that often accompanies life with a health condition. I write about my health, I struggle to embrace my medical life, and I wonder if I’ll be able to muster up a shred of disability pride to get me through July. But for the first time since I first started sharing my health story, I’m meeting myself where I am emotionally — and I know that’s just fine.

10 Tips for the Person With Anxiety Who Wants to Use a Dating App

Finding the perfect match on a dating app can feel daunting for anyone, but using dating apps may feel especially overwhelming for people with anxiety. If you live with anxiety and want to try to find a partner on a dating app, here are 10 ways to manage your anxiety while swiping, chatting, and of course, trying to find love. 1. Include as much or as little information on your dating app profile as you’d like. You don’t have to fill out every category on every dating app profile you make if you don’t feel comfortable. Include anything you think a date would want or need to know about you, and ignore the rest. Creating your profile is the first step in online dating, so why not make yourself comfortable from the get-go? 2. Know what you like before you swipe. Before you start swiping, have a general idea of what you’re looking for. Do you want a hookup? A friend with benefits? A date for a special occasion? A relationship? Take inventory of the qualities you want your matches to have, too. If you know you’re into intelligent people with winning smiles and no fish photos on their profile, then don’t swipe on people whose profiles are full of photos of their latest fishing trip. Pay attention to what people’s profiles say, and think about whether or not you’d connect with them well before you swipe. 3. Don’t start conversations if you don’t feel comfortable. Unless you choose a dating app where a match of a certain gender is expected to start conversing, you don’t have to start any conversations with your matches. Seeing who reaches out to you and how they kick off a conversation can tell you a lot about what they’re looking for and how skilled they are at making connections with their matches. If you wait for someone else to start chatting with you, you can usually get a fairly immediate sense of whether they want a friendship, a relationship, or pure, unadulterated sex. 4. Unmatch if your match doesn’t pass your “vibe check.” If you’re living with anxiety, you may wonder if you can trust your gut instinct when you feel worried or overwhelmed a majority of the time — but you still can. If your match is flirting with you in a way that makes you uncomfortable or simply gives you creepy vibes, it’s completely OK to unmatch with them. Your intuition is great at keeping you safe, so use it to weed out people whose conversations make you feel worried or unsafe. 5. Take dating as slowly as you want. If your matches ask you on dates, but you don’t feel ready to meet in person yet, take it slowly. You can decide that you want to keep chatting before you connect with your matches “in real life” or even suggest doing a phone call or “video date” before moving on to an in-person meetup. Take the dating process as slowly as you need to — the right people will respect your boundaries and wait for you. 6. Tell your friends when you’re going on a date. Whether you want to stay extra safe on your date or you just need a little extra encouragement to keep your anxiety in check, tell a few friends you trust before you go out. Let them know when and where your date is, what your date’s name is, and when you think you’ll be back. If you thrive on encouragement from other people, knowing your friends are hyping you up can calm your nerves a bit before you go out. Giving your friends the time and place of your date in advance can also keep those, “What if something happens?” thoughts a little quieter. 7. Manage your dating expectations. You might not have a perfect fairytale connection with your first Tinder or Bumble date — and that’s OK. It doesn’t mean you won’t find someone — it just means you probably haven’t met the right person for you yet. On the contrary, if your anxiety constantly convinces you that everything will go wrong, you might think that your date will hate you or you won’t like your date, but that might not be the case either. Anxiety often works in extremes, so try to remind yourself that there’s a middle ground — you can have fun and learn about yourself even if there’s no second date. 8. Be upfront about your feelings. If you and your match are hitting it off before you go on a date but dating makes you feel anxious, sharing your feelings with your match may help normalize your experience. Sharing that you feel a bit nervous for your date might feel uncomfortable, but your match might also feel the exact same way. If your conversations are already running smoothly, mentioning your feelings around your upcoming date can help both you and your match feel less alone — and maybe even connect on a deeper level. 9. Get yourself in a calm headspace before your date. When you have a date coming up, take extra steps to make sure you’re putting your mental health first. Stay on top of your medications, talk about your upcoming date in therapy, and use coping skills that work for you in the days prior to your date. Whether staying calm means taking a warm bubble bath, doing breathing exercises regularly, or cutting down on your favorite true crime shows for a few days, do whatever you need to “cope ahead” for your date. 10. Embrace the awkwardness of dating. If your date doesn’t go exactly the way you envisioned it, you may feel your anxiety crop back up, but try to “embrace the awkwardness.” You may have silences, stumbles, or little missteps on your first date — and that’s completely OK. Remind yourself that even if your first date doesn’t go perfectly, you and your date may just have “first date” nerves.” You can watch your date go a little bit “off-script” and still land a second date if you feel a connection with your match. The right person will make the awkward moments fun and know that they don’t define how successful your date is. Using dating apps as someone with anxiety can feel like an uphill battle, but there are plenty of ways to swipe, match, connect, hook up, and date while still caring for your mental health. Whether you’re new to dating apps or are trying hard to get off dating apps, take time to manage your anxiety, and don’t forget to have fun!

How DARVO Can Help You Recognize Emotional Abuse

The acronym “DARVO” has been floating around the internet recently, and it’s sparking important conversations about recognizing emotional abuse. DARVO is a tactic many emotional abusers use to project their behavior onto their victims and gaslight emotional abuse survivors into believing they’re the ones who need to change their behavior — not their abusers. DARVO stands for “ Deny , Attack , and Reverse Victim and Offender .” Let’s break this down further: Deny: When an abuser is confronted about their behavior toward an abuse survivor, they may deny that they ever said or did what the survivor claims they did. This first portion of DARVO is a form of gaslighting — or making a person doubt the reality of their experiences. Attack: After denying that they ever participated in the offending action or actions, an emotional abuser may attack the victim of their abuse for mentioning that their actions were hurtful. They may try to put their victim down to dissuade them from attempting to discuss the abuse again or bring up unrelated incidents that paint the victim in a negative light. They may also say the abuse survivor is “too sensitive” or “can’t take a joke” to begin to make the survivor believe they alone are at fault. Reverse Victim and Offender: An emotional abuser may then try to make themselves out to be the victim of their own victim’s confrontation — no matter how calmly an emotional abuse survivor attempts to discuss the issue. The abuser may say that their victim is “hurting their feelings” or claim that the abuse survivor is “attacking” them for expressing how they feel about being attacked. The abuse survivor may then feel guilty for “hurting” their abuser and apologize for doing absolutely nothing wrong because they may genuinely believe that they are in the wrong for feeling hurt by something their abuser did or said. What DARVO looks like in conversation: Emotional abuse survivor: “I felt hurt when you told me that I’ll never be smart enough to have the career I want. It made me feel sad, hopeless, and unintelligent.” Emotional abuser: “I never said that. I said you have to work hard in school to succeed in any career. Don’t put words in my mouth!” (Deny) Emotional abuse survivor: “I remember you said that. It was after I finished studying on Monday. I told you how hard my classes are, and that’s how you responded.” Emotional abuser: “ I’m so tired of you always trying to accuse me of saying rude things about you! You never respect my opinions, and you always start drama with me. When will you stop being so sensitive?” (Attack) Emotional abuse survivor: “I’m sorry. I was just mad about the conversation we had about school. I hurt your feelings, and that was wrong of me.” Emotional abuser: “Well, I’m glad you at least see I’m hurt! You need to quit telling me I said things I never would have said. And you probably told all your friends what a horrible person I am too — even though you made this whole thing up! I’m so tired of you bullying me all the time!” (Reverse Victim and Offender) Emotional abuse survivor: “You’re not a horrible person, and you’re right — I should never have brought this up. Maybe I remembered it wrong. I’m so sorry for hurting you.” At first, the emotional abuse survivor in this conversation politely mentioned their experiences and how their abuser made them feel, but they ended up apologizing to their abuser because their abuser convinced them they are abusive instead. Emotional abusers will often deny that their actions were hurtful and deflect their victims away from the issue at hand. They’ll often use blaming and shaming tactics on their victims to make those who survive their abuse feel bad for them and may even try to garner apologies from their victims by portraying themselves as victims of their own victims’ actions. If you’re an emotional abuse survivor, you may legitimately feel like an abuser yourself after having so many conversations in which you’re made to feel like you’ve done something hurtful. Once you recognize others using DARVO on you, though, you may start to realize that you aren’t the problem. Abusers may use this strategy to twist conversations about their own hurtful actions in their favor because they don’t want to confront the reality that they did anything wrong or because they want survivors to remain afraid to speak up. If it doesn’t feel safe to speak any further with your emotional abuser about how their actions affected you, you don’t have to initiate those conversations. After these situations take place, try to remind yourself that you are a survivor of emotional abuse, your experiences are real and valid, and DARVO is meant to illegitimately convince you otherwise. If you need help remembering that you aren’t at fault, reach out to a safe, supportive person or call an emotional abuse support line if you can. The abuse you face is not your fault, you are entitled to feel hurt and upset about it, and you are never alone.

Beauty and Style Life Hacks for Hard Mornings With Depression

If you live for flawless makeup and on-point outfits but also live with depression, it might be hard for you to balance your passion for fashion with your will to get up in the morning. Getting out of bed when depression is in full force can be rough, but there are still plenty of ways to show off your style while staying by your bedside. Here are seven style and beauty hacks for those days when your depression makes it hard to get out of bed. 1. Choose your outfit the night before. If you have more energy later in the day, choose tomorrow’s outfit today. Sort through your clothes and put together an outfit that fits with your plans for the next day. Don’t forget to set out that perfect pair of shoes and any accessories you think will complement your outfit! If you’ve been struggling with intense depression recently, you can keep your outfit as simple as you want — but don’t forget to lay out anything you might possibly want to wear the night before. That way, you won’t be scrambling to find your favorite belt if you’re having a hard time getting up in the morning. 2. Keep beauty and hygiene products near your bed. If it doesn’t have to be stored in the bathroom, why keep it there? Move your favorite makeup products, moisturizers, and lotions into your bedroom for easy access. It doesn’t need to happen all at once if you’re deep in a depressive episode, but gradually transitioning to storing your beauty and hygiene “must-haves” in your room can help you ease into your morning routine when walking to the bathroom feels like too much. Outfit your nightstand with a small mirror, and keep a few favorite makeup products within arm’s reach. If you have enough space, you can even keep your toothbrush, a cup of water, and a small glass on your nightstand so you can keep your “pearly whites” extra pearly white without the extra hassle! 3. Have a quick makeup routine handy for hard depression days. You may love rocking a full face of makeup, but putting on any product can be hard when you’re deep in depression. If you want to do your makeup without a huge time and energy commitment, come up with a quick makeup routine. Ask yourself how long you think you could spend on your makeup when you’re struggling with depression, and when the struggle feels less intense, test out which products you can apply in that timeframe. A simple foundation, mascara, and eyeliner look will take up far less time than a full face — but it can still give you the “put-together” vibe you love! 4. Choose outfits that take less work to put on. When you struggle to get out of bed in the morning, you may feel like there’s nothing worse than struggling into a pair of fitted pants or a blouse with complicated sleeves. Choosing outfits that show off your style but take less time to put on can help you conserve your energy when depression has you dragging. Pieces like dresses, jumpsuits, rompers, and overalls may be far easier to pop on than a button-down and some dressy jeans — but they’re just as cohesive. Once you know what your day brings, take inventory of the “easier” outfits you own, and choose a hassle-free fit that seamlessly fits into your day. You can still look stylish and comfortable without pushing yourself too far! 5. Opt for quick, depression-friendly hairstyles. If you love doing your hair, but your depression definitely doesn’t , know some quick hairstyles that work for you on days when you don’t have a ton of energy. Leaving your hair natural can help ease your stress and still tie flawlessly into your #OOTD. If you don’t want to keep your hair down for the day, choose a style that doesn’t require too much of your time, and keep any hair accessories you need by your bed. Sectioning your ponytail in three and curling each section is an easy way to give your hair some body in just a few minutes. You can also opt for a quick braid, a five-minute half-up, half-down, or even a messy bun to complete your look. Living with depression doesn’t mean you can’t have fabulous hair! 6. Choose shoes that are easy to put on. You may feel like there’s nothing worse than getting all ready for your day and then realizing you still have to strap up your heels or lace up your sneakers. Even “small” things — like tying shoes — can feel like an annoying hassle when you’re struggling with depression, but that doesn’t mean you have to make life harder for yourself! If you can, choose shoes that are easy to slip on — a cute, comfortable pair of sandals, some stylish zipper-less boots, or a fun pair of lace-free sneakers can tie together your outfit without draining your energy. If you have a disability or chronic illness that limits your shoe options, choose your widest or most adaptive pair of shoes so you can fit in any mobility aids you may need with as little effort as possible. 7. Ease into your morning before you dress up. There’s no rule saying that you have to get dressed first thing in the morning if it feels like too much for you. If your depression is making putting on a shirt feel like climbing a mountain, do something relaxing that can help you adjust to the new day. Whether you like drawing, prefer journaling, or enjoy listening to your favorite music, choosing a low-intensity activity that really makes you tick can help you conquer getting dressed and ready. You can even tie your passion for fashion into your morning activity — sketch out some fashion designs or makeup looks, journal about your thoughts on your personal style, or choose music that makes you feel like you’re in a fashion show! If you adore fashion, but your depression makes getting out of bed a struggle, there are plenty of ways to hack your hard days and still create on-point looks you’ll love. “Hacking” your beauty and style routines on your hardest days can give you the best of both worlds — quick, easy looks that still show off your impeccable style.