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The Best Response Ever to Body-Shaming Graffiti

by Meredith Community

carleighHow do you turn a crude act of bullying into a powerful stand for self confidence and body positivity? 

Take a cue from 14 year-old New Jersey resident and our newest ReachOut.com Youth Ambassador Carleigh O'Connell, who learned of an unkind act of graffiti directed towards her and decided not take it lying down. Instead, upon finding the wall where someone had spray painted the words “Carleigh’s ass”, she chose to climb up and strike a proud pose. The shot (shown here) was posted to her Instagram and later by her mom on Facebook with the following note on Carleigh's behalf:

"She decided that she was going to be stronger than hurtful words on the concrete and that she was going to be proud of her figure. She also told me that she feels complete sympathy for the teenagers across the country who face this everyday. She understands and wants all of them to find strength inside to rise above the nastiness and be empowered by who you are, how you are made and what is in your heart."

The photo, along with these touching words, went on to be shared over 16,000 times by people of all ages across the world. "I didn't realize I was taking a public stand at the time," Carleigh told ReachOut.com of the courageous act that not only landed her on the radar of the Today Show, Teen Vogue and "Wonder Woman" Lynda Carter, but also inspired many personal notes from teens as far away as Chile and Australia.  

Carleigh was so moved by the outpouring of support from young people who faced similar adversity that she sought out ReachOut.com as a resource she could share with those in need. "Sites like ReachOut.com, and Aboutface.org have a really positive message and were created for teens to have someone to talk to whenever they need it, day or night. Through amazing places like this, I’m happy knowing that no one has to suffer through this alone." 

ReachOut is proud to stand with Carleigh in her campaign against bullying and body shaming, and we hope her bravery inspires others to speak out, seek help and discover the tools they need in the ReachOut Forums to conquer their own walls of negativity.

In Carleigh's own words to ReachOut readers: "Be strong. Be happy with who you are. There is help, guidance and support with places like reachout.com. It's ok to talk about things that hurt. I know. My experience hurt but I was determined to make a positive out of the negative."

For more information around body image and bullying

Body image: love the skin you're in
What to do if you are being bullied
Self esteem
ReachOut Forums: share your story of dealing with body image 

 

A testament to self love

by Liz_ReachOut

Some of you may have seen this flying around the internet. We thought it was a great testament to the power of self love, courage and gratitude, all of which are powerful coping tools for when times get tough.

Read me noteThe note below was found in San Francisco International Airport from a woman who recently found the strength to leave a long-term unhealthy relationship. She left this note, titled 'Read me' with a necklace enclosed, which her ex-partner had once given her.

These are our favorite snippets but you can read the full note below:

"Once I discovered that my happiness depends only on myself, nothing could hurt me anymore."

"I am a work in progress but I am full to the brim with gratitude and joy."

"To me, letting it go is a joyous declaration that I am moving forward with strength and grace and deep, lasting peace."

A true story of courage

Full note:

Once I discovered that my happiness depends only on myself, nothing could hurt me anymore. I have found and continue to find peace. The full text reads: I recently left an emotionally abusive relationship. After months of insults I wont repeat, false accusations, lies, delusions, broken mirrors, nightly battles…. I left. I know that I was being poisoned by each day that I stayed. So with a heavy heart, I left my lover of three years, knowing that I had already put it off too long. At first he begged, then he cursed, but eventually he paced his bags and faded out of my life like a bad dream. For the first few weeks, my body seemed to reject this. For three years I had seen the world through him-colored glasses. I didn’t know who I was without him. Despite the kindness of friends and even strangers. I could not help feeling utterly alone. But it was this sense of aloneness that set me free. Somewhere along the way, I let go. I released all of the painful memories, the names he had called me, the shards of him buried deep in my brain. I stopped believing the things hehad made me think about myself. I began to see how extraordinary, breathtakingly beautiful life is. I meditated, drank too much coffee, talked to strangers, laughed at nothing. I wrote poetry and stopped to smell and photograph every flower. Once I discovered that my happiness depends only on myself, nothing could hurt me anymore. I have found and continue to find peace. Each day I am closer to it than I was yesterday. I am a work in progress but I am full to the brim with gratitude and joy. And so, since I have opened a new chapter in my life, I want to peacefully part with the contents of the last chapter. The end of my relationship was the catalyst for a wealth of positive changes in my life. It was a symbol, most importantly, it was an act of self-love. It was a realization that I deserved to be happy and I could choose to be. And so, in an effort to leave behind the things that do not help me grow, I am letting go of a relic from the painful past. I wore this necklace-a gift from him-every day for over tow years. To me, letting it go is a joyous declaration that I am moving forward with strength and grace and deep, lasting peace. Please accept this gift as a reminder that we all deserve happiness. Whoever you are, and whatever pain you have faced, I hope you find peace.

Namaste, 
Jamie

Do you have your own story of courage?

Share it in the ReachOut forums, and give others the strength and hope to make way for change in their own lives.

Register here to get started »

If you have suffered or are concerned about an abusive relationship, share your story in the forums and get help and support from others who have been there and understand.

Not all schizophrenics are violent

by Liz_ReachOut Health, Individual Rights, Mental Health, Relationships

TeensThe ReachOut Forums are a place to talk about your daily challenges, whether that means battling with a parent, a specific mental health issue, or both at the same time. You'll find members talking openly about depression, anxiety, schizophrenia and other mental health challenges throughout the forums, including this particularly powerful thread started by one of our community members.

We wanted to feature this post from a real forum user because of how well it highlights the social stigma attached to schizophrenia, including the myth that schizophrenics are violent, or dangerous. Got thoughts on the topic? Register to respond or see other comments here.

I am so sick of hearing about Aaron Alexis and the navy yard shootings in Washington D.C. earlier this week. The report came out on Tuesday that he was hearing voices and how someone of his extremely unbalanced mental disorder should not have been allowed security clearance or to buy a weapon. Stigma and people being uneducated and intolerant like this is why I am afraid to go to counseling or get medication that could help me or even tell anyone at all.

When I asked to go to counseling I told my mom that I wanted help with my anxiety. I couldn't tell her about the schizophrenia and I didn't even trust the counselor. When I was diagnosed earlier this year, I asked her not to make the diagnosis official and to pretend that she hadn't diagnosed me so that it wouldn't go in my medical records. I made this decision because schizophrenia is such a misunderstood label and I didn't want it following me whenever I try to get insurance or check into an ER or get a check up or anything that would give access to my medical records. I don't want anyone thinking I belong in "a loony bin" and everything I hear people joke about schizophrenia just makes me believe even more that I did the right thing.

DO YOU WANT TO KNOW WHAT GOES ON IN THE DAILY LIFE OF A CRAZY PERSON?

1) I wake up and spend about 15 minutes distinguishing dreams from reality. It is very hard for me to tell what happened in a dream-no matter how outlandish-and what has actually happened in my short-term and long-term memory. I keep the basics of who I am in a notebook and look through it when I'm not sure.

2) I go through the day and I laugh and am actually a very sweet person. I try not to lie to people but again, I don't do it on purpose, when I'm telling a story that completely never happened, I truly believe that it did and I remember every detail like it was real. Sometimes later I will realize that I accidentally lied to someone and that scares me because how often did I lie to someone and not realize it? I can't trust anyone because the only person I told, my very best friend, immediately said "Well how do I know you're not lying?" And the scary thing is I had to tell her "I don't know"...

3) I am very afraid to go to bed because when I am alone at night, a couple of times a month I will see things that I know are not there, and I know are not real but I feel their grip on my arms and them dragging me away and they TERRIFY me.

4) I have a 3.86 GPA. I have a very loving boyfriend and family. I go to church. I volunteer in hospitals because one day I want to be a doctor. I put on makeup and brush my teeth every morning just like every other girl at my school. I am a functioning member of society and shouldn't be limited any more than my mental illness already limits me. I can guarantee you, you would have no idea if you ever passed me on the street. But I have to live with this huge secret and suffer alone.

I would never shoot or harm anyone and while I am certainly not condoning what Aaron Alexis did (in fact, I hate it because it made my situation worse) I am sick of hearing about the military including mental illnesses in their background checks. That scares me, to think that I will be trapped in a society where I am automatically lumped with people like this and have to suffer this stigma. It's similar to how peaceful muslims have been prejudiced against since the extremist attacks of 9/11.

I am not violent. I am not crazy. Truthfully, I am just afraid and confused because I do not understand the reality around me. People take it for granted, waking up and having the simple knowledge of who they are because most people don't know that schizophrenics like me suffer like this. Unfortunately I have to just suffer through this and can't get medication or counseling that COULD HELP ME live a normal life because of the stigma. I hope everyone on this site reads this rant, at least the mods and peer supporters, because ReachOut is the only safe place I have and I want to be accepted here and understood. Thanks ReachOut for being here.

If you are struggling with schizophrenia, think you might be, or are worried about someone else, learn more about it here, or find treatment and help here.

*photo credit: Lena Vasiljeva, flickr

How to get more replies to your forum post

by Liz_ReachOut Community, Health, Online Networks, Relationships

So, first things first, the most important thing is that you go with your gut and say what's on your mind in the ReachOut Forums. These are just a few tips for first-time posters or anyone curious about making it easier for others to respond to their post.

  1. Ask a question

    Asking open or direct questions lets people know that you want them to respond and also gives them some direction about what you’re looking for. People want to know how to help you best, so end your post with a prompt like: “Has this happened to anyone else?”, “Does anyone else know what I mean?”, “What would you do in this situation?”


  2. Make it personal

    If you say something personal, it can it easier for someone else to respond in kind. That’s how we build trust. So, by opening up in the forums, even if it feels a little scary, people are more likely to respond to you with their experience. Remember, it’s brave to be vulnerable.

  3. Try to break up the text

    You probably know this from chatting over text, but paragraphs are easier to read than solid blocks of text. Emoticons and images are also fun ways of mixing things up.

  4. You gotta give a little to get a little

    Online relationships work a lot like offline ones; if you build friendships and respond to others, they’re more likely to respond to you.

  5. Don’t make your post tooooo long

    Sometimes you just have to get all your thoughts out at once. We get it. If your posts always take up a whole page or deal with a lot of different issues, it just may take others a little longer to process and you may get fewer responses. Of course, sometimes that's all you need, but it's good to remember that you can always break your story up into different parts, or focus on one issue at a time.

  6. Think about how you'd want someone to respond to you

    Make sure your post follows the community guidelines – our golden rule at ReachOut is to always show support, or in short, be nice. We know you all are generally down with that (and that's what makes the forums so awesome!), but if a post is ever mean, judge-y or triggering, it might be removed or edited and get a lower response rate.

  7. Try to post in the right place

    People scan the forums by the latest posts or specific topics of interest, so try to put your post in the most relevant category. Question about a family situation? Go to ‘Friends & Family’. Just want to chat? Check out the ‘Hanging Out’. The mods have your back, though, and can move your thread if needed.

  8. If you’ve got time, give it a once over

    A quick proof read makes sure your post is easy to read and others will understand what you’re saying.

The most important advice of all?

Don’t be afraid to make that post! This community is kind and caring, and wants to support you.  Everybody is welcome at ReachOut, no matter what you've gone through, how you’re feeling or who you are.

Register to start posting in the forums now »

Young woman typing

Where are you stuck right now?

by Liz_ReachOut

Girl stressedDo you feel mentally 'stuck' on something, like you can't move on or find any resolution? If you keep returning to the same cycle of thoughts, or feel anxious about the same thing every day, it might be time for an expert's opinion to help you move on and develop healthier coping strategies. Whether it's an ex-relationship, the same old argument with your parents or that voice in your head telling you you're not good enough, share with the community below and our psychologist Dr Danielle, will offer you expert support and help…

Get unstuck by sharing here »

ps. if you're not registered yet, register here to post.

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