My Mental Health Awareness Month Lesson: It’s Never Too Late

May 17

It’s mental health awareness month, and opportunities for growth and increasing our wellbeing are all around us. We simply need to know where to look. For me, this “looking” had the most literal of meanings. For mental health awareness month, I scheduled an appointment with a new eye doctor.I learned a lesson for mental health awareness month. It's never too late for the brain to heal.

Many people might wonder about this. For mental health awareness month, rather than seeing a therapist or other mental health professional, I treated myself to an eye appointment. Mind and body aren’t fully separate. Sure, they have separate components, but all of those components make up the single whole that is you (and me — each and every human on the planet).

To be mentally healthy, we need to tend to our whole selves. My vision leaves a lot to be desired. I’ve worn glasses since I was a child, but my vision worsened after a traumatic brain injury (TBI) in 2004 followed by two more concussions within a couple of years. Because I had never been able to find an eye doctor who specializes in TBI and vision, I assumed that I would just have to deal with lack of clarity, light sensitivity, becoming overstimulated easily, double vision, and more. When I realized that there is indeed such a thing as an eye doctor who knows about TBI’s impact on vision, I was encouraged…and then did nothing about it for several months.

I was interested in such an eye doctor, and I believed wholeheartedly that yes, brain injuries can negatively impact vision and that yes, while some damage may be permanent, there are things that can be done to lead to significant improvement. That’s what wellbeing is all about: making choices and taking action, small steps at at time, to make positive changes in life. I believe that this is possible for everyone. Yet I didn’t believe in it for myself in this very specific instance.

Fourteen years is a long time, long enough to make any effects of a TBI permanent. After all, weren’t things “set” now so that improvement in my vision would be impossible? Happily, I was wrong (I’m not always happy when I’m wrong, but in this case, it works for me so I’ll own my error). The brain possesses a quality known as neuroplasticity, which means that it can adapt, even more than a decade after a brain injury. It’s never too late for treatment and improvement. Many things can help the brain continue to improve.

For mental health awareness month, I learned that it's never too late for the brain to heal.Therefore, for Mental Health Awareness Month, I saw a new eye doctor in hopes that I would be able to improve some things about my vision that are bothersome. Mental health is not passive. Mental health means making choices and taking action to enhance wellbeing and quality of life. I am very glad that I decided to see an eye doctor who specializes in brain injury because I discovered that it’s not too late to improve my vision and functioning.

What are your mental health goals? What would increase the quality of your life? Whatever you envision for your mental health, know that it’s not too late. What will you do today to get started?


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Mental Health Awareness Month Book Giveaway!

May 2

It’s Mental Health Awareness Month, and to celebrate, I’m giving away copies of my books. I’m doing it twice, actually: once in the middle of the month, and once at the end.

It's Mental Health Awareness Month, and that's something to celebrate. To do that, I'm giving away copies of my books. Come participate to win.

 Why celebrate mental health awareness month?

Because mental health is something that applies to each and every one of us, and it’s very important. Mental health

Why celebrate mental health awareness month by giving away books?

  • *Books are therapeutic; bibliotherapy is a healing approach that uses the reading of books (fiction and non-fiction) to heal and thrive.
  • *Books are part of self-care; they invite us to spend quality downtime, to relax, to escape, and to learn.
  • *Reading enhances mental health and wellbeing.
  • *Books build connections, empathy, understanding, and other warm fuzzies.

The Books You Can Win in This Mental Health Awareness Month Giveaway


Twenty-Four Shadows

My Life in a Nutshell: A Novel

Leave of Absence

Losing Elizabeth


Break Free: Acceptance and Commitment Therapy in 3 Steps




Book Giveaways for Mental Health Awareness Month: How It Works

One copy of each book will be given away on May 15, and one copy of each book will be given away on May 31. Five people will win a book in the middle of May, and five more will win a copy of a book at the end of May.

Answer the below question in the comment section at the bottom of the page. That’s it!

But you can get your name entered three times. In addition to answering the question,

  • Sign up for the Wellbeing & Words newsletter (form below).
  • Visit me on Facebook (Tanya J. Peterson, NCC). Like my page if you haven’t already, and share the pinned post (it has an image of a brain reading a book).

Each of these actions gets you registered for a chance to win a book! Mental health, after all, is all about action, about taking steps toward what you want.

The question:

What is your favorite way/place to de-stress with a book? (Scroll to the bottom of the page and leave your reply!)
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En-JOY is an Action Verb: Mental Health Means Enjoying a Life Worth Living

May 12


The term mental health has become quite a buzz word (and well it should), but as a concept, it is very broad. What does mental health really mean? At its core, it means not merely the absence of illness; mental health means thriving and enjoying a life worth living.

Mental Health Awareness Month is in full swing, and how wonderful it is.  To have an entire month dedicated to increasing awareness about mental health and wellbeing is in itself something to celebrate. It means that we as humans want to be well, to not only exist but to live and to thrive, and we want to raise awareness so that this wellness can be achieved by all.

Truly, mental health and a life worth living can indeed be achieved by everyone. Happily, these concepts don’t discriminate. Each and every human being on this planet can create his/her own life worth living. Positive psychology is a field dedicated to helping people transcend challenges and problems and make meaning in their own lives.

To transcend problems is not necessarily to completely get rid of them. That’s not always so realistic. We, as human beings, face myriad challenges in our lives, including (and certainly not limited to) various physical and mental illnesses. Do these health challenges mean that a life worth living is out of reach? Is it possible to thrive and have wellness while simultaneously living with a physical or mental illness?

The answer is simple, and admittedly it’s not necessarily easy: a resounding and confident yes. Really? Is it really possible for someone living with depression or anxiety, for example, to thrive? (Yes.) Does he/she need to wait for the depression or anxiety to be gone in order to live a life worth living? (No.)

Here's how enjoy is an action verb and how we can use it to create mental health and a life worth living.Creating a life worth living is a grand adventure, a majestic quest that begins with a mere step and continues one small step at a time. At the heart of it is finding joy, day by day and moment by moment. Mental health means thriving and enjoying a life worth living.

Enjoying a life worth living. En-JOY is an action verb. A question to explore over and over again is how can I create joy in this moment (or this hour or during this event, etc.)? This isn’t a superficial joy or putting on a superficial—and artificial—happy face. This is about paying attention to who you are, where you are, and what you are doing and creating joy in that moment.

As someone who once experienced a significant amount of social anxiety, I used to live in fear of being judged wherever I went. While I was able to make myself go out and about in the world, I did so with anxiety and dread. One time, I vented to a mentor that I didn’t want to attend a certain event because I knew I would do something stupid and make everyone look down on me more than they already did. My mentor merely grunted and said, “What do you care what people think? Does it matter? Just go have fun and enjoy the experience.”

Perhaps you’re thinking what I initially did, that he completely trivialized my anxiety and clearly didn’t understand. Thanks to my superhuman ability to ruminate, I mulled over his comment repeatedly, for days. And nights. And more days. Eventually, his remarks began to blend with what I already knew about positive psychology, counseling, and wellness. It spilled over into other areas of my personal life and experiences as well as into my experiences in working with others. Things began to click.

No matter our challenges, we can all take an active role in owning our own lives. We can create joy, even little joys, in our lives. Feeling that life isn’t worth living? Find things that you are grateful for, that you like and that you enjoy, and focus more on them. Perhaps it’s fresh air but the thought of going out of the house makes you want to hide in bed and never get out. How about opening a window and enjoying the feel of the air? Then later what about opening the door? Then maybe enjoy a step or two outside. Concentrate on how good these things feel rather than how hard they are or what might happen. Little by little, you are en-JOYing your life.

Once I understood that “enjoy” is an action verb and that I could thus act to make joy in my life, to make my life worth living, I found myself transcending my anxiety. I didn’t need it to go away before I could have a life worth living. Waiting doesn’t work. Instead, I took charge of enjoying my life and making it worth living. It was then that I found that true happiness (not a problem-free happiness but a core satisfaction with life and all of its ups and downs and twists and turns) means actively making joy rather than passively waiting for it to appear.

My Life in a Nutshell: A Novel is the story of two people who don’t quite know how to live in the world—the man, Brian, because of debilitating anxiety; the girl, Abigail, because of instability and abuse.  Neither one of them feels they have a life worth living until they slowly begin to create joy. One time, Abigail says enthusiastically, “Come on, Brian. Let’s go play in the rain!” That, right there, is the embodiment of enjoyment. Play in your rain!




I’m Good because I Own my Mental Illness

Sep 14

  I’m proud to join the I’m Good campaign hosted by P.E.E.R.S. (Peers Envisioning and Engaging in Recovery Services). This proactive, pro-mental health organization has created this campaign to raise awareness of mental illness — and mental health — issues during Mental Health Awareness Month. Join in and and share how YOU are good! I'm Good badge   Like many of the millions of people living with mental illness, I haven’t always been good. My most “ungood” period involved five stays in a behavioral health hospital over the course of a couple years. Under Armour Curry 3 I was admitted for the first time because of a plummeting ability to function in daily life. It was a result of a traumatic brain injury sustained in a car accident, or so I believed. Early on, I was diagnosed with bipolar 1 disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, and social anxiety disorder. But that was wrong, I said. I had a brain injury, not mental illness. I grew increasingly “ungood” throughout the revolving-door treatment. I was “ungood” when my employer politely let me go when it was discovered that I was hospitalized, not in a regular hospital for brain injury stuff, but in a behavioral health hospital for mental illness. I was “ungood” when friendships ended. Air Jordan 4 Retro
I’m happy to say that I didn’t stay “ungood.” People are resilient, and I began to remember that I was a person, too (I didn’t always believe that), and as such I possessed the strength to bounce back. I started to become good when I started to take charge of my life and gain control. At first, though, becoming good through taking charge didn’t quite work because I was doing it wrong. I was trying to take charge of my life by ignoring and outright denying that I had bipolar disorder. It. Was. The. Head. Injury. Period. Turns out, it wasn’t. Looking back over my life, it is very obvious that I have lived with bipolar 1 disorder since young adulthood and perhaps even adolescence. It intensified and grew entirely unmanageable and undeniable after the brain injury, but the brain injury was neither the cause nor the explanation. Just the catalyst that led to diagnosis. Air Max 90 Femme
Yet for a couple years after the diagnosis, I continued to live in denial. I went off my medication once I felt stable because of course I didn’t need it. Golden State Warriors I needed it. Symptoms returned with a vengeance. That’s when I finally stopped denying it. nike air max 2017 femme noir And when I stopped denying it, it stopped controlling me, and I finally became good. Doudoune Parajumpers Pas Chere In owning the fact that I do, indeed, have a mental illness, I have taken charge of my life. Parajumpers Masterpiece Roosevelt I willingly take medication because it keeps me good. Northwestern Wildcats And I stopped beating myself up for losing a job because of psychiatric hospitalization. I realized that I didn’t want that job anyway, and I became free to take control and choose what I wanted to do in life. That was a good feeling. I gave myself permission to follow my passion. I gave myself permission to use my experience with mental illness to help the world develop empathy for those who live with it. The novels I write feature characters living with mental illness. Adidas Pantalons I hope to show what mental illness is really like. I do what I love to help increase understanding of and empathy for real-life people who live with mental illness. I have taken charge of my life, and I am good. I am good because I have owned and taken control over bipolar 1 disorder and anxiety disorders. I have incorporated them into my life to help others be good.