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Photo by Mpho Mojapelo on Unsplash

When I was dealing with depression, I had a period of about five months when I didn’t sleep at all.

It was awful.

And it was made worse by something that I did.

And now I’m up in the middle of the night.

It’s 3 AM, and I can’t sleep.

This doesn’t happen very much at all anymore, fortunately.

But simply reading the reports of the first U.S. presidential debate last night set off a flurry of thoughts, which eventually led to short-lived feverish dreams. I tossed and turned until I decided to just get out of bed and write this newsletter.

That, and I realize I had coffee way too late in the afternoon yesterday — and had way too much coffee in general yesterday (darn it, International Coffee Day) — which turned my overthinking a tangled mess of thoughts and feelings. …

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This is a strange one, considering what I write about.

I’m a random guy writing about mental health online and sharing my tips and thoughts.

So it might seem odd that I’m telling you to be careful about accepting mental health advice.

But there’s a reason I’m putting out this warning.

Because there’s something better than advice.

And I want you to know about it.

Anyone Can Give Mental Health Advice

Let’s be real. It’s 2020. Most of the world has access to the Internet.

While this is a wonderful thing, it also gives everyone a platform, a huge stage to spew anything and everything to anyone who will listen. …

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Photo by Abishek on Unsplash

When a person says, “I hate my life,” you tend to think they know what they’re talking about, right?

Not exactly.

There’s more going on beneath the surface.

If you’ve ever caught yourself saying this — or if you’ve ever tried to support someone else who has — there are some very important things that you need to know.

I Hate How I’m Feeling

Often, when you say that you hate your life, you hate the way that you’re feeling. So let’s start there.

The moment that you say, “I hate my life,” do you ever notice how you’re feeling?

Now, I know it sounds like a silly question, but how often do you blaze your way through the day, your life a blur, only to find that you don’t actually know the underlying feelings you had throughout the day? That you simply “went through the motions?” …

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Red sticker with the word mistake on it in white font
Photo by Daniela Holzer on Unsplash

There’s a mental health mistake I used to make.

And I still see a lot of people making it.

In fact, it’s not just related to mental health.

People make this mistake in all areas of their life.

The mental health mistake?

Complicating something that should be simple.

Let me show you what I mean with some examples.

Then, I’ll show you what you can do about it.

The Great Mental Health Mistake

There’s a strange thing that happens when people try to address an issue they don’t fully understand.

For example, is it necessary to implement a fancy diet and an exercise plan seven days a week when maybe you just need to get enough sleep? …

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I’m trying something new here.

I’m publishing the first guest post on The Mental Health Update newsletter.

Meet Lindsay Armistead.

Lindsay runs a design agency called Alera Design, and she approached me last year after finding an article I wrote on my old site, Nerve 10. The article was about my plan to write a mental health poetry book.

She, inexplicably, offered to design my book cover — FOR FREE.

I didn’t know what to expect. I get a lot of emails and requests from all kinds of people, and most aren’t well thought out. …

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Photo by Volodymyr Hryshchenko on Unsplash

I sometimes talk to myself in ways I’d never talk to anyone else.

I criticize myself. I blame myself. I point out my flaws and question why they are there in the first place.

It’s ridiculous if you think about it.

No person should talk to themselves this way, yet human beings do it all of the time.

I’m going to take you on my negative self-talk journey today — and point out how I learned to improve my self-talk, and highlight the work that I’m still doing to conquer this destructive habit.

An Anxious Boy — Learning Negative Self-Talk

Before I was an anxious man, I was an anxious boy. I worried constantly. And I especially worried inside of my head. Some people fidget nervously when they are anxious. My worry mode of choice has always been overthinking and rumination. …

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Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

My family is multiracial.

My dad is half-black, but I can pass as white.

And this gives me great anxiety.

We’re at a turning point in our society, and racial tensions are higher than ever.

The thing is, the racial tensions were always there, but now they are coming to the surface.

This isn’t what I normally write about, I realize this.

But I think it’s important to consider the anxiety behind the many conversations around privilege that we are now having.

Mental health connects to everything.

White Privilege and Anxiety

I’m a social worker, but I don’t consider myself an expert in privilege. There are people who, just because they happen to have a certain skin color, have not had the opportunities I’ve had. …

I’ve been experimenting with a new way of looking at the world.

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Photo by Constant Loubier on Unsplash

And it’s been working well for me.

It’s something that most people don’t do.

At least, I haven’t heard many people bring up this approach.

But it’s given me a lot of new insights, so I’m excited to share it with you.

The Origins of a Mental Rut

When I was young, I was taught to look people in the eyes when talking. It’s just what you do.

When playing sports, I was taught to keep my eye on the ball. You don’t want to miss anything.

This is typically how it goes. Focus on the action so you don’t miss the action.

This works in most situations. It’s a safe bet. …

Why outside-the-box thinking isn’t always appropriate.

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Photo by Kelli McClintock on Unsplash

You’ve probably been told to “think outside the box.”

Which means to think creatively.

But it’s not the only way to be creative.

You can also be creative and mentally healthy by thinking inside the box.

Today you’re going to learn how to think inside the box — and why it’s such a good idea in the first place.

The Downsides of Outside-the-Box Thinking

But first, let’s discuss the dangers of the more common type of thinking — thinking outside of the box.

If someone tells me to do this, it’s usually because they’re frustrated with the situation. They don’t like the outcomes, and so they bellow to those around them that they need to be more creative. What they’re really saying is that they don’t understand why what’s in front of them in not materializing what they originally envisioned. …

And why you should share what embarrasses you.

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sPhoto by Ivan Aleksic on Unsplash

I used to think that sharing my embarrassing qualities was a very bad thing to do.

I used to think that it would make people no longer like me.

I used to think that.

I no longer do.


Because sharing my embarrassing qualities makes me relatable.

Because we all have something about us that embarrasses us — or has the potential to one day embarrass us.

And these embarrassing qualities actually give us a huge advantage.

What Embarrasses Me

Is there something about yourself or your life that embarrasses you?

For me, there are plenty of things. For one, I pick my skin when I’m anxious. I know it’s not a good thing to do, but it happens. It’s gotten better over the years, but the behavior has its roots in anxiety and OCD. It’s something that started happening when I was a teenager. …


Jordan Brown

Mental Health Advocate | Author | Social Worker making mental health accessible | My free weekly mental health newsletter:

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