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AMA on mental health advocacy, depression, anxiety, blogging, and writing your first novel. Ask Me Anything!! :)

Liv Raimonde
Oct 12, 2017

My name is Liv. I'm a blogger and mental health advocate who writes about mental health awareness and the stigma surrounding mental illness all of which I draw from my own personal experiences of trauma and mental illness, particularly depression and anxiety.

I have recently completed my debut young adult novel which revolves around themes of depression, trauma, and addiction as well as aims to raise hope for young adults struggling with mental illness. #AMA 

Ask Me Anything!! :) 

SilencetheStigma.org, https://twitter.com/LivRaiWrites, Instagram: @LivRaiWrites

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Conversation (39)

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Hey Liv:) What is the best advice you can give to someone who is living with/close to a person suffering from depression? It is dificult to know how to handle this correctly so not get drawn in and negative yourself and at the same time be supportive and positive. What have been the best reactions and the most helpful words/actions in your case?

Oct 12, 5:58PM EDT0

Hi Tatiana! Thanks for your question.

The advice I have given people in the past who have a close friend/family member struggling with depression is to, above all else, be supportive. Be patient, be kind, and be supportive. You do not have to save the day or solve the problems or be the answer, just letting that person know that you are there for them and that you aren't going anywhere no matter how rough things might get is the best thing you can do. 

In terms of how difficult this is, as with everything, it requires balance. Everyone, as individuals, must have healthy boundaries for themselves. It wouldn't be healthy for you to allow yourself to become completely consumed by someone else's mental illness and that person doesn't want you to become consumed! Positivity is key and validating someone's feelings is also extremely helpful.

I remember one day when I couldn't get out of bed for days my mother took the day off from work, didn't make any reference to my health, just told me she wanted to spend the day together. We went to the movies, got our nails done, and she took me out to lunch. Although my mental health had been a frequent topic of conversation, that day it wasn't. I knew she stayed home because she was concerned but she didn't let it show. We had a nice day and it wasn't bogged down with me feeling guilty that she took the day off because of my mental illness. That was the best thing anyone ever did for me when I sick. It's the littlest things, not the grand sweeping gestures, that count the most.

Hope that helps :)

xx Liv

Oct 12, 6:14PM EDT1

Where are you from?

Oct 12, 4:25PM EDT0

Hi! 

I was born in New York City, grew up on Long Island and now live in Brooklyn after living abroad in Cape Town, South Africa for 20 months.

Best! 

Liv

Oct 12, 4:29PM EDT1

Wow thats awesome!

Oct 12, 8:07PM EDT1

Is it better to write articles for someone else or to make a blog and write for it?

Oct 12, 2:35PM EDT0

Hi Jesa, great question.

I would recommend both! Your blog is a place where you can write exactly what you want to write about on any topic. It's a place to really cultivate your voice and express opinions.

However, you definitely want to write for other publications so you can gain experience and widen your audience. 

Hope this helps! 

Liv

Oct 12, 3:04PM EDT0

Do you have a link to your first novel?

Oct 12, 2:31PM EDT0

Hi! Thanks for the question. My novel is not published yet but once it is the link to it will be promoted across all my social media platforms :)

Best,

Liv

Oct 12, 3:01PM EDT0

Are there any sites where I can register as an article writer and what is the average pay per article?

Oct 12, 1:40PM EDT0

Hi! Thanks for your question. 

I would suggest looking up publications that write about what you write about! For example, I would pitch my writing to platforms that feature stories on mental health rather than those that feature fashion. 

Once you find a publication you want to write for, research who to send your work to and send them a pitch. Not all platforms pay their contributors so be sure to ask before submitting any work. Rates for publications that do pay vary a lot. 

Hope this helps! 

Liv

Oct 12, 3:14PM EDT0

Do you think there is sufficient education about mental health?

Oct 12, 11:52AM EDT0

Hi Faye, thanks for your question. 

In short, no I don't. I think we, as a society, have a long way to go in educating ourselves about mental health. However, I do believe that we are making progress and there are a lot of great mental health awareness campaigns that work hard to help increase access to education all around the world. Progress takes time but I believe we are moving in the right direction :)

Hope this helps! 

xx Liv 

Oct 12, 1:32PM EDT0

Do you think doctors prescribe far too much medication?

Oct 12, 10:59AM EDT0

Hi! Thanks for your question. 

I believe that when prescribing medication, health care professionals are thinking in the best interest of their patient. A reputable doctor would never prescribe you a medication they didn't think you needed. 

Are they handing out medication too easily though? It's hard to say. When I was put on medication I definitely needed it. I don't personally know anyone who went on anti-depressants, antipsychotics, or anti-anxiety medication who wasn't really struggling. 

However, I think it's important to note that we live in a society that focuses on treatment rather than prevention and I blame the pharmaceutical industry, rather than the doctors for this. 

This is a highly polarized debate and unfortunately, there is no clear answer. As a patient, I would always recommend educating yourself on what's being prescribed to you. Be honest with your doctors and don't be afraid to ask them tough questions.

Hope this helps! 

xx Liv

Oct 12, 1:30PM EDT0

What is the synopsis of your novel, can you share a link?

Oct 12, 9:42AM EDT0

Hi Saiful! 

My novel is not out yet so there is no link yet but it is a young adult novel that revolves around the different ways people cope with trauma, highlighting addiction, high-functioning depression, and self-harm. 

Thanks for your question!

xx Liv

Oct 12, 1:24PM EDT0

How do you know as an outsider if someone is suffering from depression or if they are just 'down'?

Oct 12, 7:43AM EDT0

Hi Ankita,

Only a licensed mental health professional can know for sure the difference from someone 'feeling down' vs. having depression. 

If you or someone you know has had sudden changes in their mood that have lasted longer than two weeks I would suggest seeing a doctor.

I hope this helps!

xx Liv

Oct 12, 1:22PM EDT0

Are you taking any medications or do you prefer alternative medicine?

Oct 12, 1:50AM EDT0

Hi Richa! Thanks for your question.

Right now I have a prescription for Klonopin that I only use when I am having a panic attack, which fortunately now isnt't very often. I try very hard not to use it as a crutch but only in emergency situations. 

For three years, however, I was taking various anti-depressants and did reply on Klonopin to function daily. I feel this is important to say because I have no shame in that. I was going through a really difficult time and medication saved my life. I am extremely grateful that had such great doctors who were able to get me the help I needed. 

Over time I worked really hard with a therapist to develop other 'tools' to help cope with depression and anxiety. Just because I don't take medicine on a daily basis anymore doesn't mean I still don't have my struggles. Now, however, I feel that I have more resources and am more emotionally equipped to handle a depressive episode or an anxious situation. I must emphasize though that this took three years to get to where I am. I strongly recommend people who start to feel symptoms of a mental health issue for the first time to seek out professional help right away.  

As for alternative medicine, there is a lot I haven't tried. I can vouch for a healthy diet and exercise though. Yoga and meditation are also crucial 'tools' that I use to help manage symptoms.

Hope this helps! 

xx Liv

Oct 12, 1:20PM EDT0

Do you think that many people never admit that they have a mental health problem because they are afraid to get stigmatized?

Oct 11, 9:33AM EDT0

Hi Poorvi! Thanks for your question.

In short, YES! I absolutely think this is happening and I don't need to be a scientist or researcher to see it. Since I first opened up about my own mental health issues so many people who I never though suffered from a mental health condition confided in me about their struggles. 

Still today, I know people with serious mental health conditions that don't want other people to know.  This is one of the major obstacles that we as a society still need to overcome. In order to get help, people need to admit they have a problem. People are not going to want to admit that if they are afraid of being judged, shamed or stigmatized. 

Hope this helps! 

xx Liv

Oct 12, 1:13PM EDT0

What do you think causes the rising amount of people having mental health issues?

Oct 11, 5:25AM EDT0

Hi! Thank you for your question. I think it's an extremely important question to ask. 

There isn't an easy or obvious answer, unfortunately. There are two things that come to mind when I hear this question.

First, I believe that our world is becoming a lot more competitive, especially for young people. The expectations we place on youth far exceed that of the past. Admissions to colleges, universities, and graduate programs are extremely competitive and the job market is tight. I think the enormous pressure our society is placing on young adults is leading to higher rates of depression and anxiety. I also believe that social media is part of the problem. Especially when it comes to our appearance, social media platforms represent a small snapshot of our lives and are often a facade. Despite knowing this, many people look at other people's social media profiles and take what's on them at face value. However, it's important to note this is my opinion. To know for sure if these issues contribute to the rise of mental health issues there would need to be peer review studies performed. 

Secondly, I believe that the rise in mental health issues may not be as high as it seems. It is important to remember that mental illness is highly stigmatized. People do not want to be labeled depressed, anxious, etc. Therefore, the people who can often hide their symptoms. I think now, that more and more awareness campaigns are taking off and there is more education around the topic, more people are being open about their mental health conditions, who maybe a decade ago would have kept it private. 

Hope this helps! 

xx Liv

Oct 12, 1:07PM EDT0

Hey! This is a great question. Thanks for asking it. 

It's not easy to answer. I would say, looking back from where I am now, both manifested in my teenage years but because of a lack of education around mental health, I didn't fully understand what was happening to me. 

I had high functioning depression, which is difficult to diagnosis and potentially very dangerous because often classic signs of depression and anxiety don't manifest overtly. I was a student-athlete. I was excelling in my classes. I had a solid group of friends. I kept most of my emotional pain inside which made it very difficult for me to get help until I was in my early twenties. 

However, anxiety and depression can manifest at any time for many different reasons. If you ever are feeling symptoms of either one I would strongly recommend talking to a mental health care professional right away.

Hope this helps!  

xx Liv 

Oct 11, 1:12PM EDT0

How long should an article be and what is the secret of writing a good article that stands out?

Oct 11, 3:59AM EDT0

Hey Ivy! Thanks for your question. 

Articles can vary so much in regards to length. I find that with blog posts sticking to under 1,000 words will get you the best engagement. 

As for writing a great article, there are no hard and fast secrets but knowing your topic inside and out helps. Don't skimp on research, even if you think you already know a lot, there is always something new to learn. 

Make sure you are writing your truth. Make sure there is a voice to your article that is distinct to you. This comes with time and practice. 

And most importantly, the best way to get better at writing is to read! Read as much as you possibly can about everything and anything. The key to being a great writer, as Stephen King says, is to be a great reader. He reads about 80 books a year. I would suggest aiming for one a week. 

Hope this helps! 

xx Liv

Oct 11, 1:05PM EDT0

What is the best topic in terms of getting work and being paid for articles?

Oct 11, 2:39AM EDT0

Hey Paulynna! Thanks for your question. 

As a writer, balancing what you love to write about and what will pay the bills isn't easy. Writers are often and unfortunately underpaid. 

My best advice on this is to always know your value. Don't settle for less than you know you're worth. If there is a topic you love to write about but can't seem to find a job in that sector I would suggest starting your own blog devoted to what you want to write about and with hard work and perseverance, the dream job will come. 

Hope this helps! 

xx Liv 

Oct 11, 12:56PM EDT0

Liv, In addition to yourself and what you've offered the public, what other books, individuals and/or articles are considered by you to be the best in educating and helping people with depression, trauma, and anxiety?

Oct 10, 7:52PM EDT0

Hi! Thanks for your question. There are tons of great resources out there that accurately represent mental illness. The Mighty and Stigma Fighters are two excellent online platforms where people who suffer from mental health conditions share their personal stories. It is simultaneously educational, uplifting, and inspiring and really helps shed light on what people go through when suffering from a mental illness that many people do not realize or understand.  Trauma and other chronic illnesses are also highlighted on these platforms as well. 

My book recommendations would be the young adult novel Girl in Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow. It tells a story of a young girl struggling with self-harm, which I feel is a topic, even in the mental health world, that is still deeply stigmatized and misunderstood. All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven and The Weight of Zero by Karen Fortunati both highlight the stigma and struggles of bipolar disorder very well. I would recommend Adam Strauss' work for better understanding OCD. 

Hope this helps! 

xx Liv 

Oct 11, 12:52PM EDT0

Is blogging therapeutic for you?

Oct 10, 12:24PM EDT0

Hi Melodyma,

Thanks for your question. Yes, blogging has been extremely therapeutic and cathartic. By blogging and through writing my novel I have been able to acknowledge and release emotions that I had kept deep inside for so many years that were negatively affecting my life. 

More importantly, however, I found that through writing I was able to connect with people who were going through the same experiences I had gone through, people who could relate to me and I to them. 

And that through sharing our stories we could help end stigma and shame.

Hope this helps :)

xx Liv 

Oct 10, 2:10PM EDT0

Is anxiety a trait of clinical depression? How can one cure it without medications?

Oct 10, 11:54AM EDT0

Hi Richa,

Thanks for your question. I am not a medical professional and can only speak from my own experience. Anxiety and depression are two different mental health conditions that do not always coincide with one another, but they can and have in my personal case.

I would not recommend attempting to manage anxiety or depression on your own. If you are feeling symptoms of anxiety or depression I would reach out to a mental health professional right away. 

I was on anti-depressants, anti-anxiety medication, and seeing a therapist on a weekly basis for three years before I transitioned off medication with the support of my therapist, friends, and family. 

Some things that I do feel really help alleviate anxiety and depression, not as a replacement, but as a supplement to the support I mentioned above, are meditation, exercise, and eating a healthy diet that avoids processed foods and alcohol.  

I am off medication today but that was after years of hard work on medication before I felt that I had the tools and support to continue on without it. Some people stay on medication for many years or a lifetime- there is no shame in that. Medication helped save my life. 

Only a mental health professional who has been trained in this field can help you decide which course of action is best for you. 

I hope this helps. :)

xx Liv

Oct 10, 12:14PM EDT0

Did your family and friends help with feedback on your book?

Oct 10, 10:30AM EDT0

Hi Shilpa,

Thanks for your question. The short answer is YES!!! I could not have completed my manuscript without the help of friends and family. My mom and best friends read several drafts of my novel and provided me with invaluable feedback. They believed in me at times when I lost faith in myself and gave me the confidence to continue writing when I was ready to chuck the whole thing in the garbage.

If you are writing your own book, I highly recommend sharing it with people whose advice you trust and who you know will give you honest feedback. It will make the book that much better in the final stages.

Hope this helped :) 

xxLiv

Oct 10, 10:37AM EDT0
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