7 Mental Health Resources for LGBTQ Teens

Defend and protect queer kids sign

A friend of mine once said coming out feels like you are a train. At first, you are riding down a perfectly straight track, and you know the destination: A spouse of a different gender, kids, a job, a house. But something doesn’t feel right, a whisper or a shout that this track isn’t the one for you. Coming out is wrenching yourself off this track — your wheels grating and sparking as you pull them from the metal grid — and setting yourself on a different path. You may be scared or may be told it’s wrong, but eventually — with luck, love, and support from a beautiful community — you can turn this feeling of upheaval into a life. Continue reading 7 Mental Health Resources for LGBTQ Teens

Why You Are Your Most Important Relationship

Man looking at his phone in the mirror

If someone told me that the most important relationship I’ll ever have is my relationship with myself, I would call the cliché police and report them for first degree distribution of a controlled cliché. Yet I’m writing this article to tell you that this bit of wisdom is a cliché for a reason: It’s true.

Social science supports this truism, too. According to research on self-image and relationships, people who have more compassionate relationships with themselves do, in fact, have healthier romantic relationships with others. And self-compassion, just like any other skill, can be learned. Continue reading Why You Are Your Most Important Relationship

How to Support (Not Sexualize) Your LGBTQ+ Friends

Hands holding

If I had a dollar for every time a straight man has asked me how women have sex with each other — no really, how?? — I would be a wealthy woman. Alas, as I write this article I am not a wealthy woman, but I am a woman who has talked a lot of straight people through the ins and outs of queer identity.

While these questions can be invasive, even downright offensive, I’m a gender and sexuality writer. Answering questions about LGBTQ experience is kind of my job. But no one (including professional feminists) should be objectified because of their sexual identity, and queer people shouldn’t have to give a sex-ed lesson or reveal intimate details of their lives in the course of normal conversations. Continue reading How to Support (Not Sexualize) Your LGBTQ+ Friends

When is Someone Else’s Mental Health Your Business?

Two people sitting next to each other

When the phone buzzed, my heart filled with warmth. With all the news alerts and junk text messages constantly passing through our smartphones, “warm-hearted” is a pretty rare thing to feel from a text notification.

I was going through a rough patch, and the buzzing phone was a message from a friend. She had noticed something was up, and she was just reaching out to express concern and tell me she cared.

These small moments of love, friendship, and concern from people we care about can be life-saving. I mean that literally: Mental health professionals have identified social support and outreach as key in recovery for people at risk of suicide. Even when the stakes aren’t so high, support from loved ones can help us heal and get support in any situation, from workplace troubles to unsafe home or relationship situations. Continue reading When is Someone Else’s Mental Health Your Business?

Owning Your Part in a Toxic Relationship

Hand picking an apple

All relationships have bumps in the road, but when your relationship becomes more bump than road, it may be time to reevaluate. It’s tempting to only recognize toxic dynamics when they’re caused by someone else. But what if the toxic one in your relationship is you?

In a toxic relationship, both people develop unhealthy behaviors and treat each other disrespectfully. While one person in the relationship may engage in more toxic behaviors than the other, they don’t exert overwhelming control over the other person. Instead, one or both partners engage in behaviors that make the relationship unhealthy, sucking the life and joy out of it, and making it more of a chore than a support. Continue reading Owning Your Part in a Toxic Relationship

Is it Okay to Walk Away From Your Career for the Sake of Your Mental Health?

A man in a horse mask jumps on the beach

When I was in high school, my group of nerdy and rather competitive friends liked to play the “how-little-did-I-sleep” game. It was as absurd as it sounds.

Every morning nodding off at our high school science class desks, we would humble-brag about how much homework we had done the night before, how many activities and hours of part time work we had managed to squeeze in, and how little sleep we got. We were hard workers, with cultural messages telling us that hard work was the only way to guarantee success. We figured all that sacrificed sleep would surely pay off in future happiness — right?

Continue reading Is it Okay to Walk Away From Your Career for the Sake of Your Mental Health?

How to Check Your Ambitions When They Affect Your Mental Health

A man in the forest plays guitar while holding a child, next to a ballerina dancing

He was ruthless in his race to the top, picking off his competitors one by one. When he defeated his rivals and finally achieved his dream, things were great — for a moment. But soon, he was haunted by his past, discontent with the position he’d achieved, and what he wanted all along turned out to be his undoing.

Continue reading How to Check Your Ambitions When They Affect Your Mental Health

What to do When Someone Won’t Forgive You

Hand offering olive branch

Like every other human in existence, you have hurt somebody. This could be relatively small: you made a joke about someone’s appearance that really didn’t land well. Or it could be really, really big: you sexually assaulted somebody. This raises the question: what can and can’t be forgiven?

Regardless of the scope or scale of harm, we all hurt people. But we can also all learn to practice accountability. Accountability doesn’t mean apologizing to save our reputations, or making excuses for our behavior. Accountability means taking a deep, long look at ourselves, what we did, who we hurt, and the consequences of our actions. Continue reading What to do When Someone Won’t Forgive You