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Instead of writing a traditional editor’s letter this month, I thought I’d answer some of your best questions surrounding this month’s issue topic of Mental Health. I’m sharing these questions to hopefully shed some light on the subject, but also to show that we are all curious and dealing with these types of questions in our daily lives. There’s no need for us to stay quiet any longer.

How do you communicate to others that you're experiencing anxiety/depression? -@shoegirlatx

I always like to ask if someone has ever felt the way I’m feeling, I think that finding commonality is the best way we can share our struggles. I also think that being honest about our struggles might seem so difficult but the more we share, the more open we are, the less stigma is in our atmosphere. If you can muster the ability to speak on it, just know you will be influencing the bravery of someone else to speak about their own struggle.

How do I trust a therapist? -@jlkandco

How do I find a therapist that is a good fit for me? -Many people

I truly believe most therapists are likely trustworthy, but beyond trust, the more important thing is to find a therapist that makes you feel safe and comfortable to be open. Therapists are like any other relationship in life; not everyone is an interpersonal fit, and that’s ok. They all have different styles and temperaments just like we do. A therapist you don’t feel comfortable with would be the first person to tell you to find someone else. Date them like you would a potential love interest until you find someone that suits you and stop feeling ashamed or disheartened if that takes some time.

Is it possible to be discriminated for being depressed? If so, what can you do? -@rebequeenz

Unfortunately, we live in a world that discrimination is rampant for all sorts of things…our skin color, our gender, our mental health struggles and pretty much anything else.  I do think with the recent onslaught of suicide and overdoses in the media that our culture is starting to understand what happens when mental health is stigmatized and people feel the need to suffer in silence. Discrimination often is rooted in the inability to experience empathy for another person’s perspective so the more we talk about our mental health and asking people about theirs, the more empathy we hopefully breed. I’ve made a commitment to being  open about my mental health struggles online because I hope it sparks conversation about it within people’s own lives. The more we are vulnerable, the more vulnerable others feel they can be, and that is the start of less discrimination. 

For more of my thoughts on this important topic, check out my advice column, Ask Chinae, over at The Chill Times.

Headspace

This innovative app makes meditation approachable, and it’s got tons of variations for everything from self esteem to sleep.

Dr. Brandt Magnetight Mask

After the loss of founder Dr. Fredric Brandt to suicide, the brand established a foundation that supports those affected by mood disorders and works to destigmatize mental illness.

SoulCycle

Sometimes, all you need to do to get out of your head is get into your body. Sweating my ass off in a loud, dark room tends to do the trick for me.

Talkspace

With online therapy, help is more accessible than ever. This platform allows you to chat with a licensed therapist anytime you need.

Daring Greatly by Brené Brown

It’s natural to want to hide our weakest parts from the world. But Brené proves that vulnerability is our greatest strength.

Some friends of mine created this bold, inspiring project and I couldn’t be more impressed. Each of them participated in online text therapy from January to April this year and published the conversations. It’s honest, raw, and a beautiful reminder that we are not alone in our struggles.

hot list
Twitter Must-Follow: @tinycarebot
Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255

Christina Grasso aka The Pouf is a writer, beauty person and social media consultant originally from Western Pennsylvania. Over the past five years she has worked with Nylon, Create + Cultivate, Huffington Post, StyleCaster, InStyle, Law & Order: SVU, Oscar de la Renta and Nanette Lepore. She currently leads social media for Flesh Beauty. In addition to her work in fashion and beauty, she serves on the advisory board of the Glam4Good Foundation and as the co-founder of The Chain, a non-profit devoted to helping women with eating disorders. She lives in New York City with her cat, Betty Littlepiddles.

WHY IS MENTAL HEALTH IMPORTANT TO YOU?

I think because it is so important to me, it’s difficult to articulate. But the short answer is because mental illness is such a common issue–1 in 4 adults struggle–and yet it continues to be stigmatized, underrecognized and underfunded. As a result, those who suffer often do so in silence and shame, which can be deadly. I’ve tragically lost friends and peers to suicide and eating disorders over the past few years, and it’s for them and those who struggle that I use my voice for this cause.

mental illness is such a common issue–1 in 4 adults struggle–and yet it continues to be stigmatized, underrecognized and underfunded

YOU'VE WRITTEN EXTENSIVELY ABOUT YOUR BATTLE WITH ANOREXIA AND ARE INVOLVED IN SEVERAL NONPROFITS RELATED TO EATING DISORDERS. WHAT MADE YOU DECIDE TO DISCUSS YOU EXPERIENCE SO OPENLY?

It kind of happened by accident. I’m actually a pretty private individual, especially in this regard, but I was approached my senior year of college to speak at a community event about eating disorder awareness. I was very concerned about people’s perception of me but agreed to do it anyway. The response I received from speaking openly about my experience was so overwhelmingly positive and it made me realize that by sacrificing my preference for privacy I could potentially impact the lives of others’ touched by this horrible, isolating disease. It’s changed my life in ways I can’t describe, and I think it’s my purpose in life to keep talking about it.

YOU COFOUNDED THE CHAIN, A SUPPORT NETWORK THAT ADDRESSES THE CHALLENGES IN EATING DISORDER RECOVERY UNIQUE TO THE FASHION AND ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRIES, ABOUT A YEAR AGO. LOOKING BACK ON THIS FIRST YEAR, WHAT ARE YOU PROUDEST OF?

I’m most proud of the occasions when someone has come to us and told us we gave them the courage—or rather, helped them recognize their own courage—to open up about their illness in their own life or seek help. I know firsthand that’s an incredibly challenging but deeply transformational step to take. There has been some great press and amazing collaborations, but that’s not why we do it: it’s the private moments with our members of which I’m most proud.

WHAT IS THE ONE THING YOU WOULD TELL SOMEONE STRUGGLING WITH BODY IMAGE ISSUES?

To be fully transparent, this is something with which I still—and may always—deeply struggle. So it’s hard to give advice that I can’t take myself, you know? What I often remind myself, though, is something one of my favorite authors, Glennon Doyle, said: our bodies are not our masterpiece, they are our paintbrush. Hard as it is, I really do believe our bodies are vessels and allow us to express ourselves and do all the things we do and hope to accomplish, and that has helped me be more forgiving of myself.

WHAT'S THE MOST IMPORTANT THING YOU DO FOR YOUR MENTAL HEALTH? DO YOU DO ANYTHING SPECIAL TO TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF IN WINTER AND AROUND THE HOLIDAYS?

I try to take care of myself year-round, although I admit I have a lot of room for improvement. I’m really big on masking and massages, and try to incorporate even a few minutes of mindfulness into my everyday life, which is usually just mindfully listening to Fleetwood Mac for 5 minutes. And as an introvert, it’s incredibly important for me to find some alone time to recharge.

YOU'RE WONDERFULLY CANDID ON INSTAGRAM. HOW DO YOU THINK SOCIAL MEDIA AFFECTS MENTAL HEALTH?

Thank you!  As we know, social can be extremely harmful for many reasons. It can be challenging not to compare ourselves and feel inadequate and I think everyone feels that way at some point, if not always. That said, I think there’s a lot of good that comes from social, too. It’s a great tool to connect with like-minded people, or find a community that is facing similar challenges. If used in a smart way, it can help someone feel less alone and that’s a really powerful thing.

RAPID FIRE ROUND...

Best advice you ever got: To remember the lessons and values my parents have taught me.

Guilty pleasure or weird obsession: Lots of weird obsessions. Mannequin body parts, Mitt Romney’s hair, Harambe, etc.

Social media must-follow: Stevie Nicks (she’s not that active but I’m glad she’s there!), Busy Philipps (hilarious), Katie Couric (her Stories are also hilarious).

Holy grail beauty product: La Prairie Platinum Rare Cream, Flesh Fleshpot, Byredo 1996 and that Blistex in the blue pot.

Self care product/activity: Masking anywhere and everywhere.

Project you want to plug: Follow @fleshbeauty!

CHINAE ALEXANDER
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Editorial Director: Liz Deadrick
Copyright © * 2018 Chinae Alexander, All rights reserved.

27 W 24th St #10B, New York, NY 10010

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