3. A-Z Challenge. Recovery Edition. A is for Advocacy.

This A-Z challenge featuring mental health is inspired by: Milly’s Guide

So, technically, the A – Z challenge was featured in April. Well, too bad, I’m doing it in MAY. For mental health. Or is it?

Technically, I want my version to be about the recovery theme, which is essentially substance use disorders and mental health awareness, but it’s a slight difference either way. Rather than focus on the struggling side of mental health, I want to challenge myself to look for the accomplished side of mental health and recovery and inspire other people to take a look at their own journeys in kind. So, let’s get started! (seriously I should totes be paid to do this, it’s my third post of TODAY. THAT’s RIDICULOUS! AND I still have to make some Youtube themed videos. Maybe I’ll do only a few times a week with that account and go HAMMERTIME on this one)


So, we’re looking at A for Advocacy.

What is advocacy? It can easily be misconstrued as activism which is more of a political/government oriented change for a system, whereas advocacy is more about speaking out about a subject matter. Sharing stories. A voice in the darkness.

If you’ve followed me for as long as I’ve started blogging, you’ll know that I am a big shameless self-promoter about advocacy. And if you’re new, I’m writing these mental health themed passages in a way that welcomes new people and figures you don’t know much about me – unless you read my about me, but I still have to update that. Probably not today. Lmao Too much writing has been had today

Either way, welcome. Have some tea, have some cookies, pick up your baskets of arms for hugs and have a good time here.

It’s only natural then for me to re-introduce myself. My name is Raquel Lyons, I am an artist of all trades, I do photography, creative writing (I love fanfiction), bracelets, scrapbooking, painting, watercoloring, drawing, coloring. I am a psychology BS major at UMass Boston, in my first senior year, I should graduate next year in spring. I love dogs and am begging my parents to get us a new family member in the form of a dog-like creature. I go to a doggy playtime area every Sunday for nearly a year now where I play with dogs. I don’t have one anymore, and I don’t work there, I literally just go to pet other people’s dogs. That’s me.

I love gazebos and I’ve recently discovered I believe they’re called ramadas. Or is it pavilions? Damn. I am a fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Especially Loki. Oh yeah, Loki. *nods* I love color, rainbows, unicorns, the universe is mind boggling to me. I’m bisexual, more attracted to women as of the last year and there are a lot of attractive women on my campus which sucks because I think a lot of them are straight. Lmao

And I’m too much of a bi newb that I can’t tell who likes who.

I want to dye my hair a fancy color, the ends mostly and like blue or purple or something. I want to do that this summer. (I think women with fancy colored hair are like soooo attractive so I think this will up my own attractive level XD)

I love tennis, ping pong, soccer, and still, I think of doggos. Sigh. That theme of a post will be explored another day. I blog, I ever so occasionally vlog, and I’ve been on WordPress for almost a year now.

My blog got its name from a group I created on DeviantART about recovery to wellness. And such began my brand naming there on out. I have a Youtube channel under the same name which I will be updating as this month goes on. I like making videos. I think I could be really good at film work.

All of this is to say, that this is what makes me me. Of course, there’s a mental health side to things.

I live with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder on self-harm and suicide obsessions, secondary depression, trichotillomania, and some traits of borderline disorder. I am in recovery from self-harm mostly in the form of scratching. I actually have lost track of how long it’s been (a few weeks) since the last time I scratched myself. I’ve made four suicide attempts, though I don’t consider myself a suicide attempt survivor. I essentially live with chronic suicidality. Which is difficult at times to be living with.

This is all to say that advocacy is a HUGE part of my recovery journey. One of my dreams is to give a TEDtalk presentation about my recovery journey. And about my helping efforts in the realm of recovery and suicide prevention.

I have projects like #RecoveryHome and Recovery Restoration that I want to see succeed during my lifetime. I have ideas and dreams about writing a novel and maybe a memoir and definitely recovery-art themed books. I love books, by the way. #1 weakness. That and stationery. Fucking love stationery.

#RecoveryHome is about an art therapy based project where individuals create their own recovery homes imagined or incorporated into the real world from their substance use disorders or mental health conditions. It’s a place to be imagined and loved and created and to keep one’s mind focused on better days to come because they will come and to enjoy the process of creating those days rather than focusing on all the bullshit in one’s world.

Recovery Restoration is another art therapy based project in which individuals share artwork of any kind that they made that represents their recovery journey and mental health story. They are bundled in photo albums that will later be donated to psychiatric units. It’s a peer support idea. I’m actually going to be trying to prototype it out at my university’s counseling center. Fingers crossed on making that a thing over this summer.

And also, there is August which I’ve officially declared as #WWRRM which stands for Worldwide Recovery Recognition Month. Our mascot is a unicorn. And our logo is the sun with my slogan on it. And the ribbon has been decided. I will show a picture down below. Red is for substance use awareness, green for mental health and silver for the universe or unicorns or stars or whatever you would like to think of it as.


Advocacy. In terms of advocacy, I am a proud and loud advocate. I share my mental health story regularly. I am a presenter in the National Alliance on Mental Illness of Massachusetts In Our Own Voice presentations. I’m even a peer-to-peer trained mentor for their recovery course for people who live with mental health conditions.

I have this blog. And a Youtube. And a twitter.

I write in my school newspaper about mental health, mainly my own. Maybe I will turn part of this post into a future one for the fall. I like that.

I’ve become very comfortable sharing my story. I don’t ever consider how people judge me for it. Maybe that’s a blessing. I’m just not aware that people are, unless it’s mentioned, I don’t know. And it’s probably better that way.

I don’t feel I have to hide, unless with neighbors or extended family. I can just be me, flaws and all.

That’s what advocacy has done for me. It’s given me a voice to share and many platforms to share it on. I know that I help people with my voice. And I will continue to do that service until I no longer can.

Thank you, my friends.

❤ ❤ ❤

2. Rising, A Phoenix from the Flames – Song A Day in May for Mental Health Awareness – Day #1



  • Post a song a day for five consecutive days
  • Post the name of the song and video
  • Post what the lyrics mean to you (optional)
  • Nominate two (or one) different blogger each day of the challenge

Each day of the challenge? Damn, that’s a lot to ask for! I’d say that if you want to do this challenge during MAY 2017, as an ode to MENTAL HEALTH AWARENESS MONTH that you join me in doing this challenge EVERY DAY for the month of May! Or every other day, whatever is a challenge to you and also reasonable. 🙂

So, with that said let’s modify these rules a bit:

  1. Post a song a day for the month of May either related to or about mental health or something that YOU find helps YOUR mental health.
  2. It can be positive, uplifting music (you get bonus points for this) or music that’s somber and low if that’s what helps YOU.
  3. Post the name of the song and a video to it
  4. Post lyrics that stick out to you and relate them in whatever way you are comfortable with (i.e. this song helped me in my story…I just loved the way…etc)
  5. Nominate whomever you think would enjoy this challenge
  6. End this modified challenge with a emoticon of your choice.

Let’s begin with my first choice! (And yes, a lot of this music will be repetitive since a lot of you have seen my previous posts regarding music splintered throughout my other posts. But this is especially a one place finds all magic gem where I would love to find more meaningful music and expand my listening categories. 🙂 I’ll make a category for this, too. )

Song Choice for day #1:

Beautiful Pain by Eminem ft. Sia

Lyrics that stand out for me:

“Your world is torn in half, you wake and let’s wait to start the morning process
Rebuilding and you’re still a work in progress….So familiarize with what having to swallow this pill is like
It happens all the time, they take your heart and steal your life
And it’s as though you feel you’ve died because you’ve been killed inside
But yet you’re still alive which means you will survive.
Although today you may weep because you’re weak and
Everything seems so bleak and hopeless
The light that you’re seeking, it begins to seep in
That’s the only thing keepin’ you from leapin’ off the motherfreaking deep end.
And I’m pulling for you to push through this feeling
And with a little time that should do the healin’
And by tomorrow you may even feel so good that you’re willing
To forgive them even after all that shit you been put through
This feeling of resilience is building and the flames are burning
Quick as fire would through this building, you’re sealed in
But you’re fireproof and retardant you withstood it
And as you climb up to the roof you’re just chillin’ and you look down
Cause you’re so over them you could put the heel of your foot through the ceilin’

It’s like watching the walls melt in your prison cell
But you’ve extinguished this living hell.”

And of course, as you guys know, part of these lyrics is what inspired by header image “This is not how your story ends” with a person essentially stepping up to a ledge.

These words stood out to me because they helped me through a dark time in my life, where OCD was beginning but wasn’t full blown yet and before I felt true suicidal feelings. (And by true I mean actual suicidal feelings versus suicide obsessions which are intrusive thoughts based). I needed to change from the destructive path I was on about self-sabotage and procrastination and this song inspired me to do so. 🙂


The emoticon I end this with issssss…….

🔥🔥🔥= fire! 😀

Such as been blog post #2 of #Blog4MH 😀

One more to go! Maybe.

1. It’s Official: I Live with Trichotillomania

*Trigger Warning: Discussion of Trich here. You have been warned.*

It’s not that I’ve never known what I was living with before, the trich this time that is, but I’ve never been so badly damaged by it. If that makes sense.

It started about ten years ago, around the time I was twelve, when someone politely and kindly commented me on my (at the time) bushy eyebrows, and already self-conscious as I was about them, I started pulling the hairs out. And, to be fair, it’s true that I saw other people do the same, so it’s not like anything was wrong with it at first.

Around this time I constantly had eyelashes falling out and into my damn eyeballs. So, I started pulling out the traitors then, too.

As time went on, and stress came and went from me, I pulled at my eyebrows and my eyelashes.

The worst culprit would be the nighttime. In the dark, worrying about my stress, I would find myself half-asleep without a care in the world and certainly without the thought of consequences that I’d pull coarse strand after coarse strand from my face. I would twirl the hair in my fingers until I eventually dropped it and it landed, lost, onto my bedspread.

Or, sometimes, in the daylight when pulling at my eyelashes, I found myself creating a little puddle of the dark lashes–counting out how many lost lives had come to die that day and often ending with numbers near ten or a few more.

I would start having gaps in my lashes and in my brows, and I’d inspect the damage in the bathroom mirror the next morning. Fascinated by what I had done, I would be shocked by the gap, bite my lip in uncertainty, then have to exhale and walk it off–the damage was done and there wasn’t anything I could do about it after.

There were times I could go a month, a few weeks, even a couple of months without pulling. I would do badly then I would do better. I even wore gloves at night a few times to prevent myself from pulling (something I have to get back into).

All of this is to say: I don’t think I ever thought I’d lose one third of my eyebrow due to a pulling session.


But, it’s happened.

As my eyelashes are growing back into my left eyelid and my right eyelid is suffering a few gaps, my left brow just had to go. I was mulling over all the responsibilities and stressors about a potential doggo (plus homework and school) that at two AM I just pulled and pulled and pulled.

Again, it was in the dark so it was like there were no consequences.

Until I saw what I had done the next morning. To have a bare end of my eyebrow – or what should be my brow – gone….is strange. I found myself rolling in shame because it wasn’t something I could shrug off so easily this time. It was clear that some monster had attacked my brow. Part of it was missing, after all.

Within my shame I still play at the bare skin with my intruding fingertip. Feeling the way the skin is soft and bare, yet tragically so. I can feel the few strands that didn’t make their getaway. I can feel the middle gap between the top and bottom hairs–a gap that if filled wouldn’t be so bad, but being absent makes the damage look worse. Parted. Separate. Different.

Shame mixes with depression as the idea of having to face the world one brow less is a reality I now have to live in. If I could go back in time, rewind the day, I’d save myself the trouble. But maybe now it’s for the better, I can officially blog that I’ve hit a low point with trich, and trich is something that I live with.

I always wrote it off before, but now I cannot any longer. It is a part of my story. And it is a story that I will tell without shame…or more realistically with bouts of shame interspersed around courage and strength.

The next couple of months will be interesting for sure. Growing back a brow and having to not pull again. We’ll see how I do. Part of me can proudly lift up her chin to face the world and part of me would rather hide behind a hood for the rest of eternity. Both parts can exist.


This post is brought to you by #Blog4MH (I found a blogging challenge for mental health awareness month! Join us and our cookies!)