Readytoglare is a Social commentator, teacher and fashionista from Italy. She lives and works in the USA and creates videos on her popular YouTube channel of the same name. She was kind enough to answer some questions for me about her experience with mental health, cultural and social stigma, as well as the tools she uses to overcome her inner struggles with depression and anxiety.
Lets start a conversation and break the stigma…
What is your experience with mental health (anxiety, depression etc.) if you’re comfortable sharing it.
My experience with mental health began in a weird way. We’re Italian and the way mental health is seen in Italy is behind compared to where we should be. Even if my mother and I didn’t live there, the mentality at home was always Italian, something I adore and am frustrated with at times. When I voiced thinking I had depression and wanting to get checked at 16, my mother didn’t really understand.
I think she deep down understood, but since it’s not common practice to just come out with it and address it, she was shocked. Of course, I had to do some convincing in terms of explaining how it wasn’t a phase (once I got diagnosed) and that it’s actually about chemicals in the brain and it’s not “I’m sad today.” She got me a psychologist as soon as she found one and was supportive, bless her.
As time went on, from 16 – 19 my depression had some rather intense ups and downs but she was always there ready to help me, even recently she’s reminded me she’ll always help me find the people who can best help me. I speak about my mother a lot because she’s always been there and that’s been everything to me.
Do you think men find it difficult to speak up about their mental health? If so, what do you think we can do to help break the stigma for men?
I think general openness towards everyone would be the ideal. Obviously, as of now, that isn’t a realistic overnight change. I think men sharing their stories, struggles, etc would be an effective method to get others to feel more okay with whatever they’ve dealt with. While I know it varies from place to place, I do think certain attitudes deemed as masculine can be damaging.
I’m the last to say there’s anything wrong with masculinity, but I think each person should live it genuinely to themselves. By that, I mean that men should feel how they feel and let that be it. No social constraints of what they can talk about (ahem, feelings) and no negative associations with voicing feelings. Most of the men I’ve met have been sensitive and “free” from the forced masculine traits but I know in some places it’s harder to escape them.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given during a tough time in your life?
My mom always said “it’s 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.” She didn’t specifically tell me this at a rough time, that I can remember, but I remember this phrase being around since at least my elementary school days. I suppose hearing it so often made it stick and I could pull it from my brain any time I needed that reassurance.
While my family is very supportive (and small), none of us are really the types to show our emotions very blatantly, unless we’re annoyed. In fact, I’d say our family adjective is resilience. Resilience is really the bottom line of the phrase, the advice. I think it helps to see yourself in control, and that what happens is only 10% of the equation, and that we’re still masters of our destiny, if we want to be. This was also a big way for me to avoid the victim complex.
Name 3 things you are thankful for:
- The people in my life that are genuinely here for me.
- Books and music, for coming in to remind me it’s all okay and I’m probably blowing things out of proportion.
- YouTube for reminding me that people have had similar experiences and can relate.
When you are having a tough time or are in a bad mental state, what tools do you use/things do you do to shift your mind-set to a more positive state?
To be honest, I am still working on this one and so far am not very good at re-aligning my thoughts towards positivity. What helps me generally is to imagine worst case scenario. From there I usually realize that either it’s unlikely that worst case scenario happens, or that if it does happen, I will be able to deal with it and what happens happens (once I’ve done all I can).
I’ve also begun to stop my irrational thoughts before they fester and step back and ask myself “can you say this, based on facts, and not feelings?” It’s hard to get there but if you ask yourself the question enough, it’ll show you that these negative feelings aren’t reality, but my mere perception of it at the moment. I think that generally reminding yourself that you do have the tools instills more confidence in the fact that you’ll be able to manage.
Can you recommend a piece of information (video, book, article, podcast etc.) that you found affected you in a positive way or helped you to move towards a better place emotionally. Or can you share a funny meme, video or something to make people laugh/forget their problems for a short while?
When I’m down it’s hard for me to concentrate so I like to do something or relatively light. I have comfort shows that are always my go to when things are dark mentally. I love watching Friends, The Office, Family Guy, Futurama, and it’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. I’ve watched these enough to know which episodes make me laugh more, so I usually now pick those and just paying attention to something else usually lightens the mood up for me.
What would you say to someone who is reading this right now and is going through a difficult time in their lives?
Things are dark right now. I’m not going to try to tell you everything is fine or “just be positive.” I know that doesn’t really help. But, what does is to know that plenty of people who are now doing well and are happy have been in your position. Maybe the circumstances are different, but the feelings were similar. Plenty of people have experienced this and you’re not alone in it. Plenty of people are now okay. You need to keep going and you’ll get there too. You have people that care. Talk to them. Express what’s wrong. Let people know. Those who care about you will be there for you. Don’t keep it in. In fact, letting it out might be your first sigh of relief.