BIG ANNOUNCEMENT TIME:
I’M LAUNCHING A SUBSTACK (AND THIS IS IT!)
Huge news, everyone! Emotional Support Lady is moving over to Substack! After a wonderful year on Patreon, I’ve decided to move my mental-health-focused content and the incredible community that comes with it to a new platform. Why this sudden change? Great question! The main reason is that now a good amount of my content will be free for everyone instead of behind a paywall. My weekly blog that deals with all things mental health? 100% free! And according to my father, Ken Raskin, that is the best deal you can get!
(Also, my real name is Allison Raskin. I’m a New York Times bestselling author, podcaster, (mostly) former YouTuber and big time mental health advocate in case you just stumbled on this page and are very confused!)
Another huge motivation for the move is the support Substack is giving me to grow my content. In addition to the weekly blog that will be available to everyone, my paid subscribers will also get access to a bi-monthly advice column and a bi-monthly Emotional Support Lady PODCAST! I can’t wait to start answering your direct questions and interview a variety of guests with the help of my favorite (and fearless) podcast producer, Melisa Monts (from JBU!). What started out as an Instagram account has grown into a mini media empire and I couldn’t be more proud or excited!
I also recognize that I would not be able to make this momentous move without all of you and your support. I came to LA in 2007 to get a college degree in screenwriting. I never thought my journey would lead me to getting a graduate degree in Clinical Psychology and writing not one but two books in the mental health sphere. I didn’t set out to focus my career on the mental health of it all, but as soon as I started talking about my own personal experience with OCD and anxiety all the way back in 2014 on YouTube, I quickly realized the importance of sharing our stories with one another. It was all of you who encouraged me to keep talking, sharing and growing--stigmas be damned. And I am so glad I leaned in.
That said--despite my experience and being over two years into my master’s degree--I am not a licensed therapist and I am not an expert on mental health (according to any court of law). I am simply a human doing my best. So this platform will be a place for me to share what I have learned as I am learning it. But it will also be a community. As much as I love to talk about myself, I love hearing from all of you even more. That’s why I’m introducing the advice column. While I’m excited to share my own thoughts on subscriber’s questions, I want all of you to share your thoughts as well through the comments and message threads. If I’ve learned anything since launching ESL, it’s that the “support” in Emotional Support Lady is a two-way street--and I am eternally grateful. I can’t wait to see how much we are all able to grow and nurture each other as we navigate this thing called “life.”
So that’s the plan! Our favorite stick lady is expanding her reach to Substack. Non-paying subscribers will get a free weekly blog on Tuesdays. And, on Thursdays, paying subscribers will get either an advice column or a podcast episode for the reasonable (I think!) price of $5/month. (There will be at least two podcast episodes every month!) As a freelancer who doesn’t know for sure where her next paycheck is coming from, I cannot thank you enough for your financial support if you choose to become a paying subscriber. It is an incredible thing to be supported directly by your audience instead of having to wait for a big company to approve of you or your project. My career started out on the internet, talking directly to my audience, and I am thrilled to get to expand it here with all of you. Thank you all so much for being along for the ride—I’m sure it will be bumpy at times but (hopefully) worth it.
P.S. If you have the time, I’ve posted an example of one of my past blogs below so you can get a sense of what kind of writing to expect! Enjoy!
I’VE GOT ME
The other night I cried myself to sleep. It wasn’t a big cry. Just a few tears rolling down my cheek. Nothing horrible had happened that day, but I was still in a state of fear. I was worried that my boyfriend was going to leave me just like my fiancé had left me. This fear wasn’t based on anything other than my own trauma. Since my abandonment in November, I’ve been dealing with—you guessed it—abandonment issues. Every now and then, my mind will start to whisper things I don’t want to hear, and my body will react in kind. As I laid in bed, worrying that I wasn’t loved enough or in the right way for someone to actually stick around this time, I thought about calling my boyfriend. I thought about demanding reassurance from him that my fears were irrational. But then I remembered that my fears aren’t irrational. Our relationship isn’t set in stone. And anything he might say to me wouldn’t fix the problem that allowing yourself to love someone is a vulnerable thing to do.
I realized that what I needed in that moment couldn’t come from him. It needed to come from me. So I started to self-soothe. I told myself that we haven’t been together that long, so it makes sense I don’t feel completely secure. If we were married and I felt this way it would be one thing, but we have been dating for less than a year and don’t even live together. We are still in that in-between time, and with that gray area comes inevitable discomfort. But, as I told myself, I am strong enough to handle discomfort. I then repeatedly reminded myself that I won’t always feel this way. Either our relationship will move forward or we will move on. But this limbo will not last forever. I offered myself self-compassion while also praising myself for continuing to put myself out there despite my previous hurt. And then I let myself fall asleep.
Learning how to self-soothe is one of the best gifts I’ve given myself. But like most things, it takes practice. In the past I might have caved and looked for outside reassurance. Or I might have made things worse by shitting into my own brain. I might have thought things like “Well if he really loved you, you wouldn’t be feeling like this” or “Of course he is going to leave, they all leave.” But thoughts like that are the opposite of self-soothing. Plus, they aren’t even based in reality!
I am not against seeking outside support when you aren’t doing well. I think relying on your support system is absolutely healthy and necessary. Relying on other people is only a problem when it becomes your default move. When you have to reach out each and every time because you don’t have the ability or capacity to calm yourself. The issue with that kind of reliance is that it’s not stable. What if I had called John and he hadn’t picked up? What if I called and he hadn’t said the exact right thing to calm my anxiety? One of the benefits of self-soothing is that you have the best shot at knowing what you need and you are always available for yourself because you are always with yourself.
Some of you might be thinking, “I don’t know what I need!” or “I can’t give myself what I need! That’s why I rely on other people!” and I totally hear you. It can seem counterintuitive that the same brain that is making us feel bad can also offer us protection and a feeling of safety. But learning to self-soothe is like building up any muscle. First you have to figure out what are the most effective exercises and then you have to slowly condition yourself to build up your strength. Maybe you are someone who greatly benefits from holding your own hand. Maybe repeating a mantra like “I’m safe” resonates with you. Maybe focusing on gratitude in times of high stress or anxiety has proven positive results. You have to do the work to figure out what kind of self-soothing works the best for you. But no matter what kind you gravitate to, it’s important to believe in your own healing power. In the same way that having a positive attitude toward therapy helps make it more effective, believing in your unique ability to help yourself will set you up for more success. Remember: you don’t just have your own back. You are your own back, heart and brain.
Full disclosure, I ended up seeking some reassurance from John a few days after that night. But when I did so, I was no longer in crisis. I was able to come from a place of wanting to touch base about our relationship and future goals versus needing to hear him say certain things in order to feel safe or okay. It is a tall order to never seek outside reassurance. So that’s not even my goal. Instead, I am working toward a balance. I want to be able to take care of me. I want to be my own primary helper. But primary doesn’t mean only. I like relying on other people. It makes me feel cared for and it makes me feel brave because I’m allowing myself to be vulnerable. What I don’t want is to get caught in a reassurance cycle with someone else. When that happens, you are constantly chasing something outside of you and even when you catch it for a moment, it doesn’t have real staying power because it doesn’t come from within. You don’t truly believe it. That’s why you have to hear it out loud again and again (and again).
Learning how to take better care of ourselves is a massive undertaking that never ends. It can feel overwhelming because there are so many parts to attend to: the physical, the mental, the emotional. So, for now, maybe we can focus on one specific goal: I want to learn how to self-soothe. And once we figure that out, the rest of it might not seem so overwhelming because we know how to calm ourselves down.