Mental Health Warriors: An Interview with Chinae Alexander

Chinae Alexander headshot quote

Throughout Mental Health Month, we are focusing on ways to empower individuals to “light their way” to better mental health, happiness, and improved well-being. As part of this celebration, we are profiling “Mental Health Warriors,” individuals who have been outspoken in their advocacy and support for mental health issues. Today we caught up with lifestyle and fitness expert Chinae Alexander.

Talkspace: Society imposes some pretty impossible standards around female beauty. Did you absorb this message as a child or was it something you became more aware of later on in life?

Chinae Alexander: I think it was a little easier for us growing up, those pressures were certainly there, but with the onslaught of social media, etc, I can’t imagine what it’s like being a young girl now. I also grew up with a mom who always reminded me of my beauty. It’s amazing how shaping that has been and I’m glad I had that foundation to help me navigate the current age. Continue reading Mental Health Warriors: An Interview with Chinae Alexander

My Lost Decade: A Story of Addiction and Recovery

bottle alcohol man rowing boat illustration

As part of May’s Mental Health Month, we’re sharing stories that raise awareness about mental illness and empower those who suffer from it. This piece is part of our Darkest Day series, a collection of stories from people who’ve made it through the worst of their illness and now light the way for others. #LightYourWay

It is the middle of the morning and I am standing in front of a sliding pocket door. The pocket door is made of wood and my forehead rests against the surface. The door divides the apartment: me on one side and my roommate on the other. It’s not a particularly nice piece of wood — unfinished, some rudimentary bevels — but it is holding me up. Earlier in the morning, I was snorting Ritalin in my closet. I have a pretty indigo glass plate I use for crushing the pills that’s now scratched with use. I was looking down at a line of powder on the plate. It was my fifth or sixth pill of the night, at a time when I was snorting 20 or so pills in a day. With the straw in my hand, I considered a couple of truths: I’d stolen the pills from my roommate; I’d eventually be caught; part of me wanted to be caught; part of me hoped I’d die before that happened.

“We really have a problem,” I said to myself. When things got really bad — when I couldn’t believe the things I was doing — I’d start referring to myself as a group.

I snorted the line. The burn felt like pain and ecstasy and shame. But no matter how high I’d get myself those days — dripping sweat, heart jumping in my chest, and ringing in my ears — I couldn’t shake the feeling of loneliness. And later in the evenings, I’d start drinking whiskey to slow down my body. Rinse, lather, repeat. Continue reading My Lost Decade: A Story of Addiction and Recovery

My Childhood Experience in Therapy

teen boy couch therapist

While Talkspace is not available to people under 18-years-old, we recognize the importance of providing support for the parents of children with mental health issues.

I’m no stranger to therapy and mental health help. Long before I faced my own mental health issues, my mother passed down stories of my grandmother, who spent most of her life battling the demons of drug-induced psychosis and what, in retrospect, seems to have been borderline personality disorder.

Later, my mother also opened up about her own struggles with depression, anxiety, and the post-traumatic stress she carried from her abusive childhood. Likewise, my oldest sister, my father, and many of my family friends talked frankly about their issues.

Naturally, this has a downside: there’s nothing like being six-years-old and realizing everybody around you has some serious issues. But it also offers some benefits. Mainly, I didn’t have to deal with the stigma when the time came for me to seek help for my own problems.

As you’ll see, by the time I was facing true despair, I’d already had years of experience with mental health professionals. My story will enlighten you on the experience of seeing a therapist while you’re still growing up and what we can accomplish for our children. Continue reading My Childhood Experience in Therapy

#LightYourWay for Mental Health Month in May

woman dark room lights

Each May, Mental Health Month aims to raise awareness about mental health issues, to advocate for equal care, and provide support to those in need. This advocacy is more important than ever. A recent study from researchers at NYU Langone found that the number of Americans suffering from serious psychological distress is increasing while important access to mental health care has decreased. Talkspace is devoted to reversing these statistics — we cannot let this trend continue.

This May, we’ll focus on empowering individuals to “light their way” to better mental health, happiness, and improved well-being. Throughout the month we’ll bring you tips and tools directly from a therapist to help you improve your daily well-being and deal with ongoing mental health challenges. No appointment needed! Continue reading #LightYourWay for Mental Health Month in May

4 Important Life Lessons I Learned in Therapy

therapy artboard 4 heads

I’ve always been a supporter of therapy. We’re so close to our problems and stressors. Talking with someone from the outside is often the only way to make sense of it all.

I recently saw one therapist for a little more than a year to work on one issue. After only a few sessions it was clear this issue wasn’t what I thought it was. It had been acting as a cover for many years, masking problems I didn’t realize I had.

We were talking about a few specific concerns in each session. Nonetheless, I found that the following four lessons are actually applicable in many other areas of life. Consider how you can use them to work through problems of your own. Continue reading 4 Important Life Lessons I Learned in Therapy

How Can Families Reunite After Trump’s Victory Split Them Apart?

family-healing-feature_300w_mk

Before the 2016 election, writer Michael Noker was “incredibly close” with his mother. He saw her as a role model because of her strength, feminism and history of overcoming abuse. Before he came out as gay, his mother was already teaching him the importance of respecting members of the LGBT community.

Then he learned she was voting for Donald Trump. Because of Hillary Clinton’s persecution of her husband’s accusers during his sex scandal, his mother didn’t perceive Clinton as a more feminist choice than Trump. She was also disappointed with Obamacare and seemed to want a new leader who would change it.

When Noker told her about Trump’s comments on the infamous tape with Billy Bush, she dismissed them as “probably taken out of context.” He also informed her of the many sexual assault allegations Trump faced. She dismissed them as well, saying it was suspicious that women were coming forward so many years after the purported incidents. Continue reading How Can Families Reunite After Trump’s Victory Split Them Apart?

Talkspace Is Officially Sponsoring ‘This Is My Brave’

This Is My Brave logo

We are proud to announce our sponsorship of This Is My Brave, an organization that fights against the stigma of mental illness. This Is My Brave pursues this mission by helping people share personal stories about mental illness via several mediums, including live performances, blog posts and social media content.

By sharing stories that humanize and normalize mental illness, This Is My Brave is empowering people to be open about mental illness and seek treatment. We are excited to help them further this amazing and important work.

Part of Talkspace’s mission is combatting the stigma of mental illness and therapy. Many of our clients have stories about how stigma has been in a burden in their lives. By supporting This Is My Brave, we can put stories like theirs on stage.

We’ve helped thousands of people benefit from therapy for the first time. If you want to learn more about online therapy or text-messaging therapy, click on the links. You can also learn more about Talkspace by exploring our homepage.

To support This Is My Brave, visit their website, follow them on social media, donate to their cause or watch the video below!

Talking About Myself Was the Only Way for this Client to Trust Me

black male therapist female client

I once had a woman come into my office who had been referred from another provider. She was seeking therapy and had tried many times over the years, but she had a difficult time opening up and trusting counselors.

She felt that her background as a survivor of abuse and a former sex worker from an underserved background made her inaccessible to many providers. She thought I was no different. Continue reading Talking About Myself Was the Only Way for this Client to Trust Me

My Experience With Survivors of Suicide, as a Therapist and a Person

woman picture frame

Everyday, 117 people in the United States die by suicide. Suicide is also an international health crisis.

Typically when we talk about survivors of suicide, we refer to those who suffered the crisis of an attempt themselves. But survivors also exist in the form of family members and other loved ones who witness or deal with the effects of a completed attempt. Continue reading My Experience With Survivors of Suicide, as a Therapist and a Person

I Tried Therapy: Here Are 10 Reasons Why You Should Try It Too

10 therapy heads art

For so long I refused to consider the concept of therapy. I would experience many breakdowns and panic attacks. Afterwards my mom would gently offer the prospect of seeing a therapist. She told me how much it helped her cope with life, and how much it could help me with the complicated way I was feeling.

I scoffed at the thought. I believed I was fine on my own, battling my demons with no help from a stranger. But when I finally did go, I kicked myself that I didn’t sooner.

That is what drove me to write this article. We can be so apprehensive when it comes to taking opportunities to better ourselves. Just because something is unfamiliar or uncomfortable doesn’t mean we need to fear it or dismiss the thought.

I was apprehensive for a long time. I didn’t want to step out of my comfort zone without knowing what to expect. But because I put it off for so long, it took me that much longer to reap the incredible benefits of opening up. With this list of reasons, I want to nudge the doubtful people in the right direction to help themselves by seeing a therapist. Continue reading I Tried Therapy: Here Are 10 Reasons Why You Should Try It Too