Mental Health Resources and Links


Perhaps all the dragons of our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us once beautiful and brave.
Rainer Maria Rilke

The Trevor Project
Trevor Lifeline: 866.488.7386
From their site: The Trevor Project is the leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning youth.
They offer a variety of resources for those in the US, including: a Lifeline, a chat/messaging service, and a social networking community for LGBTQ youth (13-24 years old) + allies.

Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN)
Hotline: 1.800.656.HOPE
RAINN is the largest anti-sexual violence organization in the US and is full of resources for those who have endured sexual violence and/or their loved ones.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline or call them at 1.800.273.TALK. (Their web site also has Lifeline options for those who are deaf or hard of hearing.)

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)
Information HelpLine: 1.800.950.NAMI (6264) Monday through Friday, 10 a.m.- 6 p.m., EST or by email at
From their site: NAMI State Organizations and local NAMI Affiliates offer an array of free education and support programs for individuals, family members, providers and the general public. Find a local chapter here.

Kate Bornstein – AKA – transgender trailblazer, activist extraordinaire, and suicide-prevention heroine. We love her and she helps us love (ourselves and others) more.

It Gets Better Project
This project has helped/helps many people stay alive (and is a great place to find video after video of encouragement and support)!

The Body is Not an Apology
An award winning poet, activist, and transformational leader, Sonya Renee Taylor  founded The Body is Not an Apology in 2011 and it has since grown into an international movement encouraging unapologetic self-love.

Kelsey: I LOVE V-Day, the brainchild of the incredible Eve Ensler sparked by the reception of The Vagina Monologues. From their site: V-Day is a global activist movement to end violence against women and girls…V-Day generates broader attention for the fight to stop violence against women and girls, including rape, battery, incest, female genital mutilation (FGM), and sex slavery. V-Day has raised over $90 million to end violence against women and girls since it was founded 15 years ago.

PostSecret is a place where people anonymously send in a secret on a homemade postcard. The thought behind it is that sharing one’s secret can be healing for those with the secret, those who identify the secret, and those who come together to form a community of anonymous acceptance.

Leslie Feinberg
The author of such important books as Stone Butch Blues, Transgender Warriors, and Trans Liberation: Beyond Pink or Blue. Feinberg is also a fierce activist outside of the page, working for a variety of grass-root movements for over 30 years.

This list was borrowed from the Stay Here With Me project. Please visit their website for more information.

Pema Chödrön: Buddhist Insight for Challenging Times

By Carly Fox 

I discovered feminism as a sophomore in college. I was insecure, angry, and to say the least, sad. Feminism gave me an intellectual framework with which to critically understand the world around me and a language to describe the feelings of isolation I had long felt. It gave me the tools to connect my personal experiences with history and politics, and inspired me to lead an engaged life that sought to undue oppression and division. Feminism radically altered my life; yet, as much as I read and studied, I still felt an underlying sense of insecurity, anxiety, and depression. I understood feminism from my mind, but I had yet to connect it with my heart.

The semester before I graduated college I bought a book by the American Buddhist nun, Pema Chödrön.

Pema Chödrön was born Deirdre Blomfield-Brown in 1936, in New York City

Pema Chödrön was born Deirdre Blomfield-Brown in 1936, in New York City

A Buddhist nun since 1972, Pema studied under the well-known teacher Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, and is currently the resident teacher at Gampo Abbey, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, the first Tibetan monastery for Westerners. Pema writes extensively about living with an open heart and relating directly to our experiences of suffering, fear, and uncertainty.  Her down-to-earth and accessible teaching style helped me learn how to stop struggling with myself and running from my fear. Her teachings also connected deeply with my understanding and passion for a feminist politics rooted in connectedness, love, and a shared commitment to end sexist oppression.

Cultivating Unconditional Friendship with Oneself

Learning how to befriend ourselves is fundamental to Pema’s teaching. As I read Pema’s work, I began to realize that I in fact knew very little about being a friend to myself; instead, I had spent a great deal of my life judging myself and trying to be “good enough.” I believed if I received A’s, went jogging more often, got into the right graduate school, read more books, had the right partner, ate organic food, and held the correct political beliefs then somehow I would finally be lovable. These things, I thought, would make that uncomfortable feeling of self-doubt disappear. To look honestly at all the parts of myself I didn’t like – my anger, jealousy, resentment, and self-denigration- was painfully frightening. Pema’s teaching, however, encourage us get to know all the parts of ourselves that we try to cover over.

Developing unconditional friendship means taking the very scary step of getting to know yourself. It means being willing to look at yourself clearly and to stay with yourself when you want to shut down. It means keeping your heart open when you feel that what you see in yourself is just too embarrassing, too painful, too unpleasant, too hateful (Pema Chodron).[1]

Rather than judging the parts of ourselves we dislike we could be tender and patient with all the ways we have been taught to self-reject and self-denigrate. Relating to ourselves in this way means creating space and acceptance for everything we experience, not just the parts or ourselves that we believe measure up.

In an interview with the Buddhist magazine, Shambhala Sun, feminist philosopher and public intellectual bell hooks explains the importance of first befriending ourselves in order for larger social movements to be truly transformational.

I would like to bring the work of mindfulness and awareness to everyday struggles. The most important field of activism, particularly for black people, is mental health. Activism does not need to be some kind of organized ‘against’ protest. When my students say they want to change the world, I espouse an inward to outward movement. If you feel that you can’t do shit about your own reality, how can you really think you could change the world? And guess what? When you’re fucked-up and you lead the revolution, you are probably going to get a pretty fucked-up revolution.[2]

As we create space for all parts of ourselves – the parts we are embarrassed by and the parts we are proud of – we then learn that we can let go of our constant need to be “good enough.” For the approach of unconditional friendship with oneself is not about becoming “better or “good enough,” but about becoming more of our true, authentic selves.

Smiling at Fear


“Only to the extent that we expose ourselves over and over to annihilation can that which is indestructible in us be found.”
― Pema Chödrön

By cultivating unconditional friendship with ourselves we also begin to better understand the nature of fear. How do we stay present and open-heartened when our experience seems frightening and overwhelming? What do we do when we panic? Before reading Pema’s work I had thought very little about fear and how it manifested in my life. As I started to pay attention, however, I realized that fear permeated so much of my experience – fear of failing, fear of things changing, fear of someone leaving, fear of not being good enough. I had no tools for how to relate to this underlying fear, for so much of my life had been about trying to simply not experience fear, uncertainly, or insecurity. Pema teaches, however, that the first step in working with fear is to experience it fully.  By staying with our fear we begin to development confidence. Not a confidence that everything is going to work out the way we want, but a confidence that we can stay with ourselves no matter what the outer circumstances of our lives may be. Staying with our fear also begins to soften our hearts. We learn that instead of running away and arming ourselves we could in fact open genuinely to ourselves and to others. As Pema says,

If you touch the fear instead of running from it, you find tenderness, vulnerability, and sometimes a sense of sadness. This tender-heartedness happens naturally when you start to be brave enough to stay present, because instead of armoring yourself, instead of turning to anger, self-denigration, and iron-heartedness, you keep your eyes open and you begin, as Trungpa Rinpoche said, to see the blueness of an iris, the wetness of water, the movement of the wind.[3]

Suffering: The Path to Freedom

As we learn to relate more openly to fear, we also learn to open to pain and suffering. Pema teaches that we can do two things with suffering. We can let it harden us, and become filled with more anger, resentment and hatred, or we can use it as a means to become more compassionate and loving. Letting suffering soften us, Pema teaches, is critical if we wish to change the world.

Times are difficult globally; awakening is no longer a luxury or an ideal. It’s becoming critical. We don’t need to add more depression, more discouragement, or more anger to what’s already here. It’s becoming essential that we learn how to relate sanely with difficult times. The earth seems to be beseeching us to connect with joy and discover our innermost essence. This is the best way that we can benefit others.[4]

In a conversation with Pema, Alice Walker explained that she once believed suffering had no use.After listening to Pema’s tape set called Awakening Compassion, however, Walker said she discovered that staying with her pain and suffering in fact allowed her to lead a more joyous and open-hearted life.

Pema Chödrön in conversation with Alice Walker.

Pema Chödrön in conversation with Alice Walker.

Learning to relax into pain, rather than pushing it away, Walker says, is” just the right medicine for today.”

As you breathe in what is difficult to bear, there is initial resistance, which is the fear, the constriction. That’s the time when you really have to be brave. But if you keep going and doing the practice, the heart actually relaxes. That is quite amazing to feel.[5]

Pema’s teachings on suffering, fear, and unconditional self-love have been a bridge connecting the personal and political in my life, reminding me that indeed the two are never really separate. In my own experience, to engage in feminism is also to engage in a practice of radical self-love. By cultivating unconditional friendship with ourselves and learning to stay present with our fear and pain we can then begin to transform the world.

What’s Missing In Eating Disorder Discourses

By Margaret Taylor

The mental health field is routinely silent towards cultural factors that contribute to eating disorders in the United States.  The field that sees the dire effects and consequences that eating disorders have on women and men every year has yet to weigh in on the continued flawed and dangerous body and beauty standards in American media.  While eating disorders effect both men and women, the effects are seen largely in women as approximately 5 to 15 % of those suffering are male (The National Institute of Mental Health: “Eating Disorders: Facts About Eating Disorders and the Search for Solutions.” Pub No. 01-4901).  The ripples of cultural standards of beauty and body image are seen in eating disorders among women, particularly those between the ages of 16-25.

Here is what’s at stake as the mental health field continues to remain silent.

Eating disorders continue to have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness (American Journal of Psychiatry, Vol. 152 (7), July 1995, p. 1073-1074, Sullivan, Patrick F.)  It is surveyed that 25% of college aged women reported binging and purging as a weight loss or management strategy. (The Renfrew Center Foundation for Eating Disorders, “Eating Disorders 101 Guide: A Summary of Issues, Statistics and Resources,” 2003).

Also, 20% of people with anorexia will die prematurely from complications related to their eating disorder (The Renfrew Center Foundation for Eating Disorders, “Eating Disorders 101 Guide: A Summary of Issues, Statistics and Resources,” published September 2002, revised October 2003).  These are startling statistics, and unfortunately they are not new.  Alternative and powerful tactics must be taken to provide a new approach within treatment and also outside of treatment in the discourse on media and depictions of body.

Within treatment centers, the focus is highly individualized to the client focusing on personal stories and trauma. This is helpful and necessary to recovery but the field itself has failed to address larger conversations that infiltrate one’s mind from the moment they open up their mother’s beauty magazine or turn on the television. depositphotos_3404005_l-m-52463 (1)It’s the stories of mothers finding their nine year old daughter’s list of a diet in purple crayon scribble, the group of 6 grade girls exchanging laxatives in the bathroom during lunch, or the obsession with the “thigh gap.”  These incidents are not uncommon and have yet to be addressed.  They are the results of the ever-present yet unrealistic bar for beauty in this country.  These are the conversations that need to be addressed from the field of people who deal with them on the front line. I want to hear from the professionals who see the sick individual walk through their doors everyday on the edge of heart failure gripped with an illness that’s fueled by misconceptions and misrepresentations of the body and health in American media.  The missing voice in eating disorder treatment is the professional who sees the violent consequences of a world who won’t champion healthy body image or even take part in the conversation.

Helpful and Relevant Books

Dear Readers,

These books have been tremendously helpful in my own journey of working through depression and anxiety and creating a life filled with more self-love and inner peace. I hope you find them useful.

In love and feminism,


The Places that Scare You: A Guide to Fearlessness in Difficult Times by Pema Chodron

The Mindful Way Through Depression: Freeing Yourself from Chronic Unhappiness  by Mark Williams, John Teasdale, Zindel Segal and Jon Kabat-Zinn

The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself by Michael A. Singer

Broken Open: How Difficult Times Can Help Us Grow by Elizabeth Lesser

The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are by Brene Brown

All About Love: New Visions by bell hooks

We Are the Ones We Have Been Waiting for: Inner Light in a Time of Darkness by Alice Walker

Absolute Trust in the Goodness of the Earth: New Poems by Alice Walker

Loving What Is: Four Questions That Can Change Your Life by Byron Katie

Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke

The Gift by Hafiz

When Will We Be Feminists?

 When Compassion is a Value

When Progresspicasso-woman-in-blue-nov-23-2009

Is Measured


How Much Truth

We Dare

To Know, To Speak

When Pushing a Wheel-Chair is Worth More Than Your Stocks

When Peace is More Than a Logo on Some T-shirt the Gap is Selling

When Patriotism is Pacifism

When We Stop Believing in Borders

When We Stop Building Walls

When Courage is Not a Gun

When War is Not an Option

When Man is No Longer Defined by NOT Woman

When Beauty is No Longer Measured in 2’s and 4’s

When We Can Stand Naked Without Sucking in Our Guts

When We Stop Applying Perfume

To Cover up the Scent

Of  What They  so Presumptuously Call “Feminine Oder”

And Instead,

Let Pussy Smell Like Pussy

When Our Bumper Stickers Read Not, “God Bless America,” but

God Bless the Orphan in Gaza

God Bless the Widow in Afghanistan

God Bless the 15 year Old Boy in Yemen Who’s Learning to Shoot a Missile

God Bless the Woman in the Congo Who’s Been Raped More Times than She Can Count

God Bless US All

When We Remember That the Man We Call God

Came From the Vagina of a Poor Palestinian Woman

When a Black –

Muslim –



Who’s Taken a Punch

Who Knows the Meaning of the Word Dyke

Who Prays to an Indigenous God

Who Took the First Bite of the Apple and Enjoyed It

Who Remembers Stone Wall – And the Hard Fist from the Cop

Who Was Burned at the Stake

Who Was an American before Columbus

Who Marched in Birmingham, in South Africa, in India, in Palestine

Who Was There, at the Bottom of the Ship, Crossing the Atlantic

Who Sat in the Back

Who Drank from the Other Water Fountain

Who Jumped from the Windows at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory

Who Gave Birth to Jefferson’s Negro Baby

Who’s Been Down and Out, and Then Some.

Who’s Cried

Who’s Fought

Who’s Lost

Whose Father was Hagar

Whose Mother was Jezebel

Whose Name is Not Remembered

And Whose Story is Never Told









Then We Will Be Feminists.


She takes her hands, worn by time, and places them around my back

They rest on my body like a promise

They swear to catch me, knowing how readily I fall

Her hands, soft like cotton, teach mine how to pray

Tells me of God, and of hope

It starts with love, and that’s where it ends

Those are lessons she found infinite ways of sharing

I’ve only cried in front of her once

Even then, her hands, full of space for my cheeks and my sins

She held my sins like they were flowers, with purple petals

Planted them in a garden so they were buried

Under trees, and all the good decisions I made

After the sadness, she taught me how to dance

And sing, and even the songs I can’t remember all the words to

Ring in my ears like a symphony of joy

I was always younger around her than I was

And older than I felt

She said I could do anything

And she meant it

Didn’t live long enough to see me do too much

But even today her words fall on my heartstrings like the bow of violin

They make music even her God has to stop and listen to

She had a way of making even a strong man fall head over heels

And I wasn’t too strong so I loved her with fervor and a depth

I’m still crawling out of the pit I dug my love into

My last song was a hymn and I sang it through tears she never saw me cry a 2nd time

I held her, even in her last breaths I held her and promised to love her even after she left

And a week later she left, never looked back, and never said I’m sorry

She was sick, and she couldn’t say much of anything in the end

But thank God our memories hold onto promises, harder than our hands do

There hasn’t been another woman I loved like that

Hasn’t been another woman who loved me like that

We spoke in songs and in dance, we laughed like we never let the sadness win

And for about 19 years she was the most important gift God ever saw fit to give me

I love her just the same

I sometimes forget her face, and her hands, and her voice, and her dance, and our songs

But most nights I dream about our long talks and hopeful prayers and all the fire we claimed into our family line, like how we believed in who we were and what we could be

She said everyone was a champion, even the cousins in jail, and father’s who forgot about us, and the mother’s who got a little too angry a little to often

Everyone had a story

Everyone had a name and a face and reason they should be loved

She just loved.  Made suffering look like a prayer.

Made hope even in darkness,

Look possible.