I know it seems like you are alone in this but you’re not, there are so many..." Fireside with Yoni
Updated: Oct 14, 2020
Yoni is a 30-year-old, queer baby, who lives in a renovated 1987 Ford Tioga with her husband and their two dogs Burt and Barbra. She spends her time writing, reading, watching mindless reality television, hiking, cooking, spending lots of time outdoors, and striving to make this world a kinder, more equal space for all bodies.
Q.) How has mental health/illness impacted your life?I’ve struggled with severe anxiety and depression from a very young age and it has certainly shaped who I am today. I’m also in recovery from debilitating eating disorders/disordered eating. The household I grew up in was extremely abusive and that trauma manifested in a myriad of ways for me, one definitely being my mental health/illness. I have built my life around the concept of being as peaceful as possible and almost as solitary as possible (sans dogs & husband) as to preserve my own mental wellness.
Q.) What are your positive outlets and how did you discover them?
Probably the biggest thing for me is exercise and being outside. Each morning I wake up and immediately hit the trail with my biggest dog. Sometimes I roller skate with him, that’s a new thing we’ve been learning lately. When I’m home I stretch or do yoga, and then do some sort of bodyweight exercise. Movement for me has become my therapy – I feel far better when I am moving both in mind, body, and spirit. I also write (you can find my work on https://firstname.lastname@example.org); I write a lot about racial injustice, feminism, mental health, and relationships amongst other things) and though it is a job it also helps me process my emotions.
Finding these outlets has been a long and winding road. When you are struggling with an eating disorder, movement often becomes punishment. To break myself out of the “working out to lose weight” mold honestly took years and I don’t even know if I am all the way there yet. That being said, it is something I love and I won’t stop doing it. Writing was also a long road, I never felt good enough to be published until a professor in college pushed me to publish a piece on my own rape – turns out it was well received and an important piece of writing for other survivors of rape and sexual assault. That piece gave me the confidence to write full time!
Q.) Do you think nature plays an important part in recovering from mental illnesses?
Yes, absolutely. Being outside is clinically proven to combat mental illness, from limiting stress and anxiety to boosting endorphins. It is something that I do almost every day and it is something I recommend everybody to do. Go outside!
Q.) If you had to create a "self care box" for yourself, what would be 3 things you'd put in it?
Oh, my goodness, limiting this to three things makes it really, really difficult! Okay, let’s see, three things in my self-care box would be: my dogs (also anybody else’s dogs), a walk (okay so I guess this going to be a really big box), and a magic tv with only mindless reality television and King of the Hill (I mean, sometimes you have to turn your brain off, don’t judge me).
Q.) How do you feel social media is impacting people’s mental health?
Social media is linked to high rates of depression, anxiety, and suicide and that is just a fact of life that we all need to comprehend. However, I think that you can make social media work for you in a way that is not negative and in fact can help you and here’s how (wow, this really sounds like a sales pitch):
Unfollow people who make you feel bad. You do not need to follow the Kardashians or any other impossibly beautiful celebrity that makes you feel like trash.
Curate your feed to fit your needs. For me, I follow a lot of mental health advocates, positive outdoors people, social justice activists, and body acceptance content creators. Being shown bodies that are not just sample size and six feet tall helps me accept my own. Also, I religiously mute people.
Take social media breaks, set a timer each day and don’t be scrolling the entire day.
& seriously, I cannot stress this enough, understand that social media is not only an echo chamber, it is a space where people showcase the best of themselves and curate their lives in a way that is appealing to others. It’s not real, nobody is that happy.
Q.) What is something that someone has said to you that has always stuck with you when overcoming hard times?
Nothing really sticks out to me but I did tattoo, “It’s okay, I’m okay” on my leg as a reminder.
Q.) What advice would you give someone that is struggling?
I know it seems like you are alone in this but you’re not, there are so many people going through it with you, you just have yet to meet them. You’re not weak and you’re not flawed for feeling these feelings, you are human. I’m here for you if you are ever struggling, send me a dm and I’ll be your friend – now, would you like cookies, pie, or fresh baked bread? Remember that I love you.