May was mental health awareness month

What does that even mean? Also, faerie water.

And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music

~ Nietzsche

Dear friends,

Happy Memorial weekend! Whether you’re mingling with vaxxed company or simply lounging extra hard, I hope this extended weekend provides what you need.

As I write this, it’s cool and raining in coastal Maine, but that’s perfectly fine with me; my garden needs water, and I soaked up plenty of warmth and sunshine all month!

These pics are from two separate trips to Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park. The hazy sunrise photo is from our most recent trip this week.

Watching the sunrise from Cadillac Mountain is a big thing in this area. Apparently, it’s the first place you can see the sunrise from the continental United States. Although, according to this site, that’s only true at certain times of the year. Jason and I left the house at 3:44 a.m. to catch it and found a swarm of visitors at the parking area at the top of the mountain.

The sunrise that day was kind of a bust. A dense layer of ocean fog obscured the horizon, as it’s wont to do. However, there have been plenty of times I’ve woken up earlier, climbed a helluva lot higher (on foot), and arrived at the top -- or very close to the top -- of a *cough* real mountain, only to have the weather turn me away with an unwelcoming, “not today, human!”

You never know what’s going to happen on a mountain, or a hill, for that matter.

In other news, I’m sorry to share that none of the eggs my hens sat on this month became chicks. It’s kind of sad, but I knew that leaving them under the hens instead of sticking them in an incubator was a roll of the dice.

Anyway…

What is mental health awareness?

Since my last newsletter, I’ve learned that May is mental health awareness month! I have mixed feelings about “awareness” campaigns. I used to think, “what’s the point of being aware of something if you’re not going to DO something about it?”

Now, I understand that awareness is the key to empowerment, particularly when it comes to something as sensitive, stigmatized, and generally misunderstood as mental health.

Awareness the crucial first step toward lasting change.

But what does mental health awareness mean? The answer varies depending on your unique experience.

Personally, mental health awareness means:

  • Listening to your body and giving it the rest, nutrients, and physical activity it needs

  • Treating your mind and body as one whole being, not separate entities

  • Acknowledging that mental health issues are not signs of weakness, depression is not something you can just “snap out of,” and that you never know what another person is going through

To add to that last point, you should know that experiencing or living with mental health issues doesn’t mean you’re damaged or defective in any way. For more than half my life, I felt shame around mental health issues — like I was some broken thing that needed to be fixed.

Shedding that belief has been more than liberating; it was a crucial part of my healing and growth over the past 10 years.

Recently, I’ve learned a lot from Terri Cole, a psychotherapist who specializes in relationships and healthy boundaries. If you’re not already familiar with her work, this blog post on how to normalize mental wellness is a terrific place to start. I highly recommend reading, listening to, or watching this because it’s a goldmine of helpful info.

One of the points she makes in this post is how the language we use to talk about mental health can be harmful. I mentioned this in one of my previous posts and think it’s worth repeating.

Here are some of the suggestions copied and pasted from the blog post, in case you don’t have time to read it:

  • Swap “mental illness” for “mental illnesses” — “illness” is too broad a term and doesn’t really reflect what the person is going through. 

  • Don’t use “afflicted by” or “suffers from” or is “a victim of” – instead use “living with a mental illness” — The former terms imply someone is unwell and unhappy while the latter confirms people with mental health challenges can and do lead healthy, fulfilling lives.

  • Don’t use “mentally ill person” instead, use “person living with a mental health issue”. There is more to people than just their mental illness and the latter honors them as a whole person outside of their diagnosis.  

  • Instead of “substance abuse” use “disordered relationship with substances” — Abuse connotates the individual is making a choice when we know substance issues have neurobiological and emotional health factors which lead to misuse. 

  • Instead of saying someone “committed suicide” say “lost to suicide” or “died by suicide”. Using “committed” implies BLAME. We would never blame someone for dying of cancer, would we? No, we would not. 

Words are powerful. After ideas, they’re the building blocks of radical change.

I’d love to hear about what mental health awareness means to you and what new things you’re learning about mental wellness. Reply to this email or leave a comment to share.

And now…

Lauren Loves

Lilac water, because hydration is chic.

I’m currently sipping on this delicious botanical beverage with purple flowers floating in it. I feel sophisticated and whimsical at the same time — like a faerie queen riding a unicorn, but totally bareback and side-saddle.

All you need to do to make your own is soak 1-2 lilac blooms in water for a few hours or overnight. I put a TON of blooms in my first pitcher and ended up continuously adding more water as I drank because it was so strong!

I love edible flowers and like to float blossoms in my beverages or use them to enhance the beauty of a cake or salad whenever I can.

Please let me know if you try it!

Until next time, lots of love and many blessings!

Lauren