My First Mental Health Counseling Residency Experience

Validated. Supported. Encouraged. Inspired. Motivated. This is how I felt immediately following my first residency experience. There is something so empowering about spending a long weekend with a group of people who share the same goals & values that you do; we all came from different backgrounds & had different stories, but shared a common goal: to be a mental health therapist.

The weeks leading up to my residency weekend, I was terrified. I dreaded having to role play & use my counseling skills in person for the first time in front of people I didn’t know. I discussed my fears of being vulnerable & getting too emotional with my therapist two weeks prior to going. I packed up my suitcase with blazers & dresses, loaded up on snacks for my hotel room, & headed to the hotel.

The first day, I felt myself get uncomfortable. Here I was, in a group of strangers, being asked to share my perspectives & thoughts. I promised myself that I would feel more open tomorrow, after I hopefully had time to bond with a few members of my group.

Thankfully, a group of us went to dinner on the first night. Dinner turned into drinks by the pool, & I found myself opening up in the less intimidating setting.

Over the next four days, these strangers became friends. Supporters who I can reach out to on a bad day, confidants to share fears & goals with. I learned that I was not the only one who feared being too emotional or coming across as being unprofessional in a session if I felt too much. Every single one of us had fears like this, & it was so encouraging to know that. At the end of the residency, we shared thoughts & feedback with each other. I felt really emotional & vulnerable, to both share feedback & receive it, not just on our counseling skills but also who we are as people.

Some of the very kind words my residency group used to describe me. The things I feared the most as my biggest weaknesses were framed as my greatest strengths.

I feared that my empathy would be a weakness as a therapist, & this group of strangers-turned-friends confirmed that it’s actually my greatest strength. I say all of this in the hopes that you choose to push yourself outside of your comfort zone, & to view some of your perceived weaknesses as strengths.

Thanks so much for reading! & to my residency group/new friends, I appreciate you & am so inspired by you.

Love,

Danielle

Summer Insecurities

Bottom line: it’s a whole lot harder to feel good about your body if you don’t feel good on the inside.

Hi there!

“Love yourself!” “Love your flaws!” “Your body is beautiful!” How often are we told these things? I’ve said them in previous posts, I’m sure.

What we don’t hear as frequently though, is what to do if you DON’T feel this way. I know that so many of us are experiencing mixed feelings about our bodies; I know that because so many of you have shared that with me & I feel the SAME!

Sure, some days I’m dancing around in my bathing suit, feeling grateful for all that my body does for me. Some days I’m wearing a pretty dress & feeling beautiful. But there are plenty of other days. There are days when I catch a glimpse of my reflection & think, I look 8 months pregnant. There are days when I go to the beach with a friend & revert back to the comparison game. There are days where I want to hide my body. If you’re reading this, maybe you have had similar days.

Bottom line: it’s harder to feel good about yourself on the outside if you don’t feel good on the inside. This is a recent revelation for me; I’ve noticed on days when my anxiety is high, I have trouble accepting my body. These things go hand in hand. It’s not as easy as simply throwing on the bikini, there is self-reflection & inner WORK to do first. How do I do this? I go to therapy, I write down my anxious or negative thoughts, I identify WHY I’m feeling different emotions. I surround myself with people who remind me of the best things about myself! Over time, I find accepting my body to be easier. The bad days don’t spiral into bad weeks or months, & I feel good about that.

We’re seeing posts about how every body is a bikini body; how you should feel good about your body no matter what. I love this messaging, but I know it’s not always completely realistic. My hope for you this summer is to have days where you’re having too much fun with people you love to even think about your insecurities!

Love,

Danielle

Mental Health Check-In

Hi there!

I started this blog to challenge myself to be vulnerable, so here goes: I’ve been struggling a bit in the mental health department. I’m okay & thankfully I have plenty of established coping skills, but my anxiety has been not so great lately. (Edit: woke up in a much better headspace this morning, yay!)

I think this is because of a few things; we’ve had some things going on personally that bring out a lot of feelings, I’m adjusting to being on summer break, & the dreary afternoons lately are the worst when I’m, as both my therapist & John describe me, a house plant.

Thankful to be in a much better headspace!

Typically, routines & my comfort zone is how I keep my anxiety in check. It’s summer break, & while I still have grad school coursework, I’m finding myself with a lot of free time. I’m playing with Theo & watching funny shows, but also feeling guilty that I’m not being more productive. It’s a vicious cycle, feeling anxious about how I’m wasting my summer break feeling anxious.

Here are a few things I’m trying to do this week that seem to be helping:

  • Making a to-do list for the following day. I’m putting even the smallest of tasks on my list right now, so that I feel productive crossing it off!
  • Making fun plans. I have a beach trip planned for Friday, a weekend by the pool with my parents, a weekend trip planned for the 4th of July. Making plans gives me extra things to look forward to!
  • Getting ready for the day. The first few days of summer break, I stayed in pajamas. It made me feel off all day, so this week I’m putting real clothes on & doing my makeup.
  • Moving my body! Those endorphins do wonders. My mom & I have decided to do some fun dance workout videos (Kyra Pro on YouTube is one of my faves!) & hold each other accountable. We just did our first one together & I feel great!

Just a reminder that everyone gets into a funk sometimes. Hopefully we have good support systems, coping skills, & patience with ourselves to start feeling better. Leave a comment & check in, how are you doing?

Love,

Danielle

Things I Learned at 25

Hi there!

Today is my last day before I turn 26! I thought it might be fun to reflect on all that I learned this past year. It was a challenging year that definitely tested me & taught me about myself. Here’s a few things I learned!

  • I’m more adaptable to change than I thought. I’m a cautious person who has a little bit of fear surrounding change. This year I proved to myself that I can adapt & make it through challenging times.
  • Making memories with loved ones is by far most important to me. Material things don’t mean much compared to spending quality time with my family & friends. Being able to spend time with them now is something I don’t take for granted!
  • Gratitude can get me through the hardest times. I lean heavily on gratitude to manage my anxiety symptoms. Even on my hardest days, I have so much to be grateful for.

These are things that I know I’ll carry into this next year. I’m thankful to be able to celebrate my birthday with loved ones this year, & can’t wait for a summer full of outdoor dining, swimming, & backyard hangouts.

How lucky am I to have so much love in my life?

Another quick note: I’m growing as a person & continuing to grow my little online community. If you’re reading this, thank you. Thank you for taking the time to read my words, to engage in my Instagram content, to have inspiring conversations.

I’m looking forward to 26 & all that it brings! I hope you’re having a good week!

Danielle

Reasons to go to Therapy When You Feel Totally Fine

The color of this dress (from Target!) makes me so happy!

“What’s wrong?” “Are you okay?” are a few questions I received when I told family & friends that I was going to therapy. While therapy is wonderful for those who are struggling (& if you are struggling, there is help out there for you!), it can also be amazing when there’s nothing wrong at all. I felt inspired by an Instagram post by Keiko Wolfe, to write a list of reasons why everyone should go to therapy, whether you’re going through something or not!

I’ve previously written about my mental health journey (I’ll link my post here!) & have mentioned more recently that I’m going to school to become a mental health counselor myself. My main reason for being in therapy right now is to be the best therapist I can be, but I’m also working through other things in my sessions. Here are a few reasons why someone might benefit from therapy!

  • To process a big life change
  • To nurture relationships with others (& yourself!)
  • To learn more about yourself
  • To unpack childhood trauma
  • To learn new coping skills

Therapy is so helpful for people who are struggling, but it’s not ONLY for those in a dark place. That is what the stigma surrounding mental health tells us in our society. Regardless of how you feel about therapy or where you are in your mental health journey, I hope you know that you are worthy of living your best life. I’m so happy you’re here!

Danielle

I’m Proud of Myself

This was a difficult year! There is so much to be proud of.

Acknowledging my accomplishments isn’t something that comes easily to me. I’m not sure if it’s something women are conditioned (thanks, patriarchy!) or if it’s something else, but I rarely discuss my accomplishments or things I’m proud of myself for. I wanted to write this post, because there is a lot to be proud of this year. I hope it inspires you to take a moment & to reflect on what you feel most proud of this year.

I’m proud of myself. I’m proud of myself for teaching in the midst of a pandemic. For showing up daily & trying to be the best teacher I can be for my kiddos, even when it’s hard. I’m proud of myself for sticking it out through grad school; through late nights of writing papers & discussion posts, on nights I feel like giving up. (Also for getting an A in my most recent course!) I’m proud of myself for adapting & finding ways to cope with an anxiety disorder that has really been amplified in this pandemic.

I’m proud of myself for how I treat people; I’m mindful of how I make other people feel (although maybe a little too much so sometimes!) & I try my best to make others feel valued. I’m proud that I enjoy learning new things & challenging myself. I’m proud that I lift other people up instead of tearing them down. I’m proud that during a difficult year, I found strength I didn’t know I had.

As we wrap up 2020, there is so much to be proud of. I’m proud of you, for getting through a tough year; for reflecting on priorities & making hard choices, for making sacrifices & showing up. Maybe you suffered a loss, whether that’s a loved one, a job, big plans. There is so much to be proud of yourself for!

Walking into 2021 feeling grateful.

What are you most proud of yourself for?

Thank you so much for being here; for supporting my blog. You inspire me & I couldn’t be more grateful. Have a happy new year!

Love,

Danielle

A Quick Mental Health Check-In

Hi there!

I wanted to just do a quick mental health check in. I hope you’re doing okay & hanging in there! I’m hanging in there but I’ve also just felt like I’m not functioning at my best.

I feel tired. I feel good some days & am having terrible anxiety the next. I have happy days with my students & then other days where I get home feeling tense & overwhelmed by the weight of it all.

I haven’t been moving my body or eating nutritious food very often; actually, I’ve been turning to take-out food for comfort. I’ve noticed some weight gain which I’m trying to come to terms with. It’s hard to maintain a positive body image when I’m not taking care of my body very well. I’m working on taking some small steps toward nourishing & moving my body. After all, it does so much for me & I should really take care of it!

This morning, I woke up early enough to cook breakfast, drink matcha, & play with Theo before leaving for work. Those small moments of self-care set the tone for my day.

Even in dark times, I have so much to be grateful for. Here’s a quick list!

I love him 😊
  • John 💕 I’m forever grateful to love & be loved by him. Even in my anxious, irritable moments, he makes me feel so loved.
  • Teaching my students how to be kind human beings.
  • A happy, healthy puppy who greets me with so many kisses every day when I get home!
My baby is getting so big!!

It feels like we’ve been in this pandemic for such a long time; let’s remember to be gentle & kind to ourselves. Weight fluctuates, productivity comes in waves, & some days we just need to order Chinese take-out & binge a show on Netflix (these may or may not be my plans for the evening!)

Sending you a virtual hug,

Danielle

Things I’m Thankful For

This week was hard. On top of going back to school & navigating the craziness that is COVID times, it was also the anniversary of my friend Bekah’s death. I felt my mental health suffering throughout the week; I try to be mindful of when I’m struggling but a sure sign that I am is when my apartment & my car get extra messy. When my anxiety is high or I’m feeling down, chores & cleaning are the last thing I feel like doing. I’m taking this weekend to recharge & take care of myself (also cleaning because it’s pretty bad!)

I had planned on writing about my favorite outfits or an easy makeup look, but found myself feeling unmotivated to film that right now. Those posts are usually fun for me, but I want to again be mindful of my mental health & be transparent about where I’m at right now. I think that vulnerability is so so important, especially right now. I know that there are many others who are struggling; life can feel difficult & heavy some days (or months or years? I’m ready for 2020 to be over with!) Please take care of yourself.

Here are some things that I am so thankful for; things that I clung onto for dear life this week as I navigated an especially difficult week!

I’m so thankful for this sweet puppy who came into our lives at the MOST perfect time!
  • My relationship! I’m not sure how I got so lucky to fall in love with a guy as kind-hearted, loving, & supportive as John, but I’m so happy I did! He always, always knows how to lift me up.
  • Our little family. No matter how hard my day was, or how down I’m feeling, I get to come home to the cutest little family. It’s impossible to feel sad when Theo is suffocating you with his kisses, & Phoebe is snuggled up purring next to you. How did I get so lucky??
  • My parents! I talk to my parents every single day. We always recap our day & compare funny puppy stories; always a highlight of my day.
  • My sister. I’ve said it before but my sister is my absolute best friend! This is the longest we’ve ever been apart (due to COVID we haven’t been together since Christmas) but we talk every day & doing our podcast together brings me a lot of joy. This time apart has made me appreciate our bond even more!
  • My friends! I have the strongest, best friendships with girls who love & support me through anything. Especially during COVID we check on each other & text, especially when we are struggling.
  • Comfy dresses like this one! It even has pockets. So cute, I’m ordering other colors ASAP!

There are plenty of other things I feel thankful for right now, but these things in particular just make me smile so much. No matter how difficult things feel or how bad my day was, these are things that aren’t going away! I hope you find strength in focusing on your gratitude for the little things.

Sending love (& Theo is sending puppy kisses!),

Danielle

Something I’ve Learned During COVID Times

Hi there!

Like so many others, I’ve experienced a wide range of emotions over the last several months. In May, we had to put our dog Luke to sleep really suddenly; it was heartbreaking & left us feeling completely devastated. Even thinking about him now brings me to tears; he was the best, sweetest dog & I miss him SO much. Not long after that, our new pup Theo came into our lives. That grief was still there, but Theo brought so much joy as well. This little puppy came into our lives at the perfect time, bringing so much light into a time of darkness.

My sweet angel boy, Lukey!

Something I’ve learned during all of this is that grief, joy, stress, hope, sadness, happiness. These feelings all can and probably SHOULD coexist. That’s what I lean on the most when I’m having a bad day or having trouble coping with everything going on; my feelings are all valid and can coexist. That also means that if things are feeling particularly heavy, I know that at some point there will be light again, whether that’s a FaceTime with a friend or puppy kisses or dinner on the patio with John.

Theo has grown SO much since this picture was taken. His cute little face KILLS me!

Practicing gratitude is something I can’t recommend enough, and I think it’s what gets me through the hard parts. Whether I’m having a bad mental health day where my anxiety is acting up or I’m grieving or just down for whatever reason, when I think of even little things I’m thankful for, it helps.

Allow yourself to feel however you’re feeling. Even emotions that don’t feel as though they can go together can coexist.

I hope you’re hanging in there,

Danielle

Things I do when the weight of the world feels a little too heavy.

These days, we’re all bound to have a day when the world feels a bit heavy. Whether you’re feeling angry with our political climate, anxious over COVID, or just down because you’re lacking a sense of normalcy, your feelings are valid. Our world probably isn’t going back to “normal” anytime soon. Being an empath, I often find myself feeling overwhelmed by the negative emotions of others. I think there is a line between providing emotional support for others, & taking their emotions on yourself. That’s a line that I’m still working on finding. I always say that we can’t control others but we can control our own reactions. Here’s a list of a few of my go-to things to do, when the weight of the world is a little too heavy.

  • Call or text one of my friends, my mom, or my sister.
  • Go for a walk. (John compares me to a houseplant because I NEED sunshine haha)
  • Take a long, luxurious-feeling shower.
  • Put on a favorite song & dance around.
  • Snuggle with my pets.
  • Do something that makes me feel strong & empowered, like a dance workout.
  • Support an organization or cause that I feel passionate about.

These are all really simple things; nothing ground breaking. But I think the most helpful thing to do when you’re feeling discouraged or out of control of things, is to focus on the things you CAN control.

If you’re feeling down today, I hope that you find things you’re able to control to bring a little light back into your day.

Sending light,

Danielle