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#Fearless But Still, I Rise MHAM Shirts On Sale Now!

It’s finally here, May 1st. That means it’s officially Mental Health Awareness Month, and the But Still, I Rise t-shirts are officially on sale!

I don’t know about you, but I’m really excited about this fundraiser, so if you missed the details in my Mental Health Awareness Month announcement article, here’s what you need to know:

  • The t-shirts are being sold through TeeSpring, and will be available for purchase May 1-May 31 at 11:59 p.m. MST.  You can order them by clicking here!
  • We are selling t-shirts, hoodies, stickers and mugs, all of which will have the beautiful design (created by Allie Dearie) on them.
  • 75% of your purchase will go directly to The Trevor Project, an organization that focuses on crisis intervention and suicide prevention in LGBTQ+ teens. The other 25% will go to helping maintain #Fearless (such as keeping our domain, purchasing a stock photo subscription, or something else that helps keep our site working wonderfully!).
  • Because we know that price is everything, we made sure to price our items in a way that would maximize profit without making you feel like you have to give up an arm and a leg. So, if you haven’t clicked the link yet and want to know the prices we’re selling the shirts for, here they are:
    • $20 for t-shirts
    • $35 for a hoodie
    • $10 for a mug
    • $5 for a sticker
  • This is the most important note of all. On the website, it will have a countdown timer to when the “campaign” ends. Despite what this timer says, the campaign will run for 31 days! That timer is just a countdown to when the shirts will be printed, not to the actual end of the t-shirt sale.

It is my hope that this t-shirt fundraiser will yield a bigger donation than last year’s – which was $220. It would be amazing if we could raise as much money as possible for this wonderful organization! So, tell your friends, your family and your neighbors, and buy a t-shirt, mug or sticker.

Any questions, comments or concerns about the t-shirt fundraiser, don’t hesitate to comment on this post or email contact@hashtagfearless.com.

Once again, if you want to buy a shirt, you can do so by clicking here!

If you would like to email #Fearless, you can send any questions, concerns, comments or suggestions to contact@hashtagfearless.com. We do our best to respond within 48 hours, but if for some reason we cannot get back to you in that time frame, we promise we will always respond as soon as possible. You can also find us on any of the following social media sites: FacebookTwitterPinterest and Instagram!

Lastly, we run an Emetophobia Support Group on Facebook. Emetophobia is the intense and irrational fear of throwing up, and it is one struggle we are passionately engaged in. It is a closed, by request only group to help facilitate sharing and support by all members. It is also private, meaning that the posts you and others make will not show up publicly in your newsfeed.

#Fearless Quote of the Week: July 31-August 6

This week’s quote was chosen by Chelsie S., writer for (and owner of) #Fearless. See what it is and why she chose it below:

Insta Quote July 31“I think the our natural inclination as humans is to run away from what scares us. Why go towards something that is making us shake, tremble and cry? But, there is always a second option. There is flight, but there’s also fight. When faced with a struggle that seems to scare you, run to it, because it’s likely the option that is going to help you grow and achieve what you want in life. This quote has become something that I strive to live by, because for the longest time I would run from fear. But now? I look it in the face, and I walk to it. The funny thing about fear is as you run towards it, it shrinks and goes away. Be bold and be strong in the face of fear, and you’ll be surprised what the world will give back to you.”

Do you want to be featured on #Fearless? It’s as simple as sending in your favorite inspirational quote, poetry verse, movie quote or song lyric, and explaining why you love it! To submit a quote, please visit the #Fearless QOTW submission page, or email the quote, the author and why you chose it to contact@hashtagfearless.com.

We can’t wait to see what makes you feel #Fearless!

If you would like to email #Fearless, you can send any questions, concerns, comments or suggestions to contact@hashtagfearless.com. We do our best to respond within 48 hours, but if for some reason we cannot get back to you in that time frame, we promise we will always respond as soon as possible. You can also find us on any of the following social media sites: FacebookTwitterPinterest and Instagram!

Lastly, we run an Emetophobia Support Group on Facebook. Emetophobia is the intense and irrational fear of throwing up, and it is one struggle we are passionately engaged in. It is a closed, by request only group to help facilitate sharing and support by all members. It is also private, meaning that the posts you and others make will not show up publicly in your newsfeed.

#Fearless Quote of the Week: July 24-July 30

This week’s quote was chosen by Chelsie S., writer for (and owner of) #Fearless. See what it is and why she chose it below:

Insta Quote July 24“This quote is something I feel like I need constant reminder of, especially in the realm of mental health. I think it’s easy to get caught up in the idea that we’re not moving fast enough, or not making enough progress, but every journey is different. You could take the tiniest steps, or spend several days contemplating each step, but as long as you keep pushing yourself towards your goal, and never give up, you’re doing all you can to help yourself. Don’t judge yourself based on how fast someone else recovered – your speed does not matter. Be gentle on yourself, you’re only human after all.”

Do you want to be featured on #Fearless? It’s as simple as sending in your favorite inspirational quote, poetry verse, movie quote or song lyric, and explaining why you love it! To submit a quote, please visit the #Fearless QOTW submission page, or email the quote, the author and why you chose it to contact@hashtagfearless.com.

We can’t wait to see what makes you feel #Fearless!

If you would like to email #Fearless, you can send any questions, concerns, comments or suggestions to contact@hashtagfearless.com. We do our best to respond within 48 hours, but if for some reason we cannot get back to you in that time frame, we promise we will always respond as soon as possible. You can also find us on any of the following social media sites: FacebookTwitterPinterest and Instagram!

Lastly, we run an Emetophobia Support Group on Facebook. Emetophobia is the intense and irrational fear of throwing up, and it is one struggle we are passionately engaged in. It is a closed, by request only group to help facilitate sharing and support by all members. It is also private, meaning that the posts you and others make will not show up publicly in your newsfeed.

#Fearless Family: My Partners Perspective of My Journey

By Amy C.
#Fearless Family Writer

I don’t know about other emotional abuse survivors, but I often look at my current romantic partner – my husband to be, no less – and think, “How can you put up with me? Why do you stay with me, even when I have my wobbles? Hasn’t it been an awful chore?! Why do you stay and put yourself through that?!”

It’s a scar left by living with someone who made it clear they found me tedious, boring, and stupid, and still influences my thought patterns to this day. The difference now is that I don’t let it take me down. I recognise them and do something about them, so you know what I did about these questions?

I asked them.

I’m not at home to repressing and hiding my questions, imagining the worst, and living with crippling doubt and self-loathing anymore. If I want to know what my love really thinks, I ask him, safe and confident in the knowledge that he will answer honestly and respectfully…and often with kisses and cuddles thrown in, you know, just for fun. Or because it’s a day ending in Y.

In preparation for my previous writing for Hashtag Fearless, I asked my then-boyfriend and now fiancé (sorry, I’m still bouncing with happiness over his status change!) a few questions because not only did I want to write a well-rounded piece that reflects his own highly valued contribution to my continuing recovery, but I genuinely felt curious as to what he’d say:

Amy: How did you feel when you first heard about what happened to me?
Fiance: A combination of angry and disgusted.  Nobody should be put through what you went through, and I just wished I’d been around earlier to have stopped it then.

A: Did you feel apprehensive about being with me/did it put you off? 
F: No, not at all.  Somebody in your position needs a lot of love and care, and as that was what I was intending on giving you anyway!

A: What were the challenges that you faced? 
F: The main one was trying to remove the brainwashing that he’d put into place – that everything wasn’t your fault; you are the most beautiful person in my eyes; you are allowed to have an opinion, and say no; etc.

A: What were the rewards? 
F: Seeing you re-emerge from the hell he’d put you in and blossom into being as beautiful on the inside as you are on the outside.

A: How has it affected us as a couple, either positively or negatively? 
F: I think it has helped us bond together – we’ve both been through a lot in the past, and we’ve got through it all together, as one.

A: Do you have any regrets about us? 
F: No regrets at all – it’s like I proved that by PUTTING A RING ON IT!

A: What do you think are the challenges that we still face? 
F: I will say that I think that the challenge is still ongoing, but we are working through it still (and probably always will be).

A: What advice would you give someone about to embark on a relationship with a survivor of emotional abuse? 
F: Be caring, be patient, be there.  Things aren’t going to miraculously fix themselves overnight.  It will take time, but it’s worth it in the end.  Sometimes all they’ll need is to know that you are there and have got their back – support is key.

What I took away from this exchange, which I’m glad I pursued, was simply: he thinks it’s worth it. His rose tinted glasses are off; having sat with me through some of my darker fights to recover, he knows what this involves. He knows I try to assume blame whenever something goes wrong, and calls me on it every time. He knows I get twitchy about some things, and what is most likely to make me cry with frustration. He knows I am sensitive to criticism, and works hard to word things carefully.

And he doesn’t begrudge any of it, at all.

Instead, he takes pleasure in seeing me do well, and is willing to fight with me when I struggle.

So if you are wondering the same thing about your new love, about how they see things and how they feel about being with you, you brave survivor and emotional warrior, I humbly suggest you ask them. You’ll probably find, as I did, that they are proud of you. The best type of partner appreciates, admires, and respects your bravery.

Don’t accept anything less.

If you would like to email #Fearless, you can send any questions, concerns, comments or suggestions to contact@hashtagfearless.com. We do our best to respond within 48 hours, but if for some reason we cannot get back to you in that time frame, we promise we will always respond as soon as possible. You can also find us on any of the following social media sites: FacebookTwitterPinterest and Instagram!

Lastly, we run an Emetophobia Support Group on Facebook. Emetophobia is the intense and irrational fear of throwing up, and it is one struggle we are passionately engaged in. It is a closed, by request only group to help facilitate sharing and support by all members. It is also private, meaning that the posts you and others make will not show up publicly in your newsfeed.

#Fearless Family: You Can Love Again After Emotional Abuse

By Amy C.
#Fearless Family Writer

Three years ago today, I was in hell.

I’d been in a relationship for almost four and a half years, and three and a half of them had been emotionally abusive. I didn’t realise that I had been abused until it was over; sometimes we are too close to ourselves to see what we have become. I had become a grey, drab, genderless thing, constantly unwell and tired and run-down, and trying to weakly shuffle through each day as quietly and unobtrusively as possible.

I was a nervous wreck, constantly hyper-vigilant, and hyper-aware that everything I said, everything I did, and sometimes literally every move I made, would be sneered at and ridiculed by the person who would then turn around and say he loved me. I was 29 years old and going to bed at 7:30 p.m. every night through sheer emotional exhaustion, and a desire to avoid my abuser’s notice. He made it clear he was happier when I was not around, anyway, and I was desperately unhappy and completely demoralised.

I won’t catalogue all of the abuse, as it would take up too much of this article, and it’s not the point of it (and he doesn’t get any of my time or energy anymore); but to give a brief snapshot of what I mean when I say, ‘emotional abuse’: he berated and humiliated me repeatedly for the way I washed up his spoons; he told me in excruciating detail what he found attractive in other women, and yelled at me when I protested; and he threatened to report me to the RSPCA for animal cruelty because I obeyed my vet’s edict to keep my kitten indoors until she was spayed (a creature he would call obscene names and repeatedly threaten to kick. I gave her to my parents out of concern for her safety).

I remain annoyed with myself that it took the discovery that he was cyber-cheating on me before I finally left him.

Three years on from that time – i.e., today – I know what real love looks like. I am engaged to a wonderful man who craves my company, and puts me first in the same way that I put him first. We’ve been together for two and a half years, and not once has he ever treated me with anything except love and respect. We make each other happy, and have a healthy relationship based on mutual adoration, trust, and a shared love of puns. We cheer each other on with successes on the Boggle app, and have more shared jokes than you can shake a stick at (and at this point, I’ll give him a little message: MUSHROOM, darling!). We don’t just love each other; we like each other.  

And he doesn’t make me feel frightened, useless, stupid, or unwanted.

If you had told me three years ago that this is what 2017 would look like for me, I wouldn’t have been able to summon up a laugh for you, and I absolutely would not have believed you. Being treated with basic respect and common decency seemed an unrealistic dream to me; happiness was for other people.

But here I am.  Here we are.  Together, and solid.

I won’t lie: it hasn’t been easy. We only met 5 months after I left my abuser, and I was battle scarred and wary. And boy, did I make him work for it. But this man stood at my side, grabbed a sword, and fought my demons with me. When I disagreed with something he said for the first time, he held me as I cried and trembled in fear, reassuring me that he didn’t think I was stupid and wasn’t going to shout at me for daring to challenge his opinion.

When I suddenly froze after we laughed together one time and told him I wanted to run away from him because the happiness was too scary, he sat me down and held my hand and patiently talked me through the wobble (telling me months later how scared he had been in that moment that I would leave him). And, before we moved away together, I sat him down and gave him a list of my fears about being in a relationship based on my previous abuse, and he sat down, read it, and addressed each of them in turn, with patience, logic, and sympathy.

So, that’s what he did.  What did I do, though?  Because recovering enough to be in a relationship again was ultimately on me. How did I manage to love again after emotional abuse?

Well, for starters, I lucked out when a simple twist of fate threw me into the path of a really fantastic person (ours was a case of ‘right place, exactly the right time, 30 seconds later we might have missed each other’). So in all honesty, good fortune did play a part.

But there’s way more to it than dumb luck. It would have been simple enough to not text him back when he pursued me, not agree to have lunch with him, say ‘no’ when he asked me to be his girlfriend…but somehow, I just couldn’t do that. I found someone who made every cell in my body breathe a sigh of relief the moment he walked into the room. And, in spite of the fact that he turned up at a time when I was content being alone while I recovered, I couldn’t walk away from that. I just knew he was a completely different person.  

It takes bravery, and ironically, a willingness to walk away if the alarm bells start ringing. But it also takes the guts to know the difference between a genuine concern (such as humiliating you in front of other people, or, y’know, AT ALL) and a fear based wobble. It’s important to become comfortable with the difference between keeping your eyes open and not accepting anything less than respect, and punishing your new love for someone else’s mistakes.

But recovery also takes plenty of honesty. Communicate exactly what your fears are, and exactly why they are an issue. The right person will listen, and respect it, and, as I said before, suit up and fight the monsters with you. The right person wants to help, and wants you to feel good and happy and secure, not frightened and alone.

I still wobble sometimes, and I still need reassurance now and again. The after effects of emotional abuse are long reaching, and they still tap me on the shoulder now and again. But, two and a half years on, he still listens, still fights with me without making me feel guilty for it, and still loves me regardless. And they only happen now and again, because the emotional security my fiancé gives me makes me feel safe and strong.

Most importantly, you need to fall in love…with yourself. That’s first and foremost, before you can truly give your love to anyone else. Your abuser will have doubtless made you feel unlovable, and that you are ‘lucky’ to have them, ‘fortunate’ that they put up with you.

This, coming from someone who can only feel happy and in control and able to retain a relationship by emotionally terrorising another person. Quelle irony.

Your abuser’s opinion doesn’t count, and never did. Once you realise this core truth, really feel it in your bones – and you will, one day – it all becomes much simpler in your heart. I was fortunate in that I realised after it was over that I’d fallen out of love with my abuser long before we broke up, as I believe is quite common. For those of you who still love your abuser, take comfort; it is well nigh impossible for someone to keep loving – not obsessing over, but loving – someone who doesn’t love them in return. Eventually, it withers and fades.

And, as the wise old saying goes, sometimes it is more important to forget about what you want and remember what you deserve. You may tell yourself you want to stay with your abuser because you love them, but don’t forget about your other wants: respect, not living in fear and misery, being valued and liked and adored. They’re way more important than your partner.

Reading some books really helped me to get this, notably It’s Called a Break-up Because It’s Broken by Amiira Ruotola-Behrendt and Greg Behrendt (of He’s Just Not That Into You fame). That book reminded me, in a funny, relatable, and realistic way (they husband an wife duo share real stories from their past with fearless honesty) that I was a good person who deserved to be treated well, and was entitled to happiness and respect, and that just because one person didn’t provide that didn’t mean that it didn’t exist.

Now, repeat after me, until you accept these truths:

I will not give up.

I am inherently deserving of love, safety, and happiness.

I am worthy of everything good.

I will win.

Thank you to Amy for sharing this powerful and moving story!

If you would like to join the #Fearless Family, please visit the #Fearless Family page for more information on submission guidelines!

If you would like to email #Fearless, you can send any questions, concerns, comments or suggestions to contact@hashtagfearless.com. We do our best to respond within 48 hours, but if for some reason we cannot get back to you in that time frame, we promise we will always respond as soon as possible. You can also find us on any of the following social media sites: FacebookTwitterPinterest and Instagram!

Lastly, we run an Emetophobia Support Group on Facebook. Emetophobia is the intense and irrational fear of throwing up, and it is one struggle we are passionately engaged in. It is a closed, by request only group to help facilitate sharing and support by all members. It is also private, meaning that the posts you and others make will not show up publicly in your newsfeed.

Introducing: Dear Fearless…

In an effort to keep this site new and diverse, we here at #Fearless are very excited to announce the newest addition to our weekly content: Dear Fearless…

What is Dear Fearless? Simply put, it’s our version of an advice column. You, our readers, will submit questions anonymously to our advice columnist, Fearless, and then Fearless will give the best advice they can based on the information you gave them. Each week (likely Saturdays at 10:00 a.m. ET), we’ll publish a new advice column and hopefully help the world one article at a time.

Once we have a couple questions lined up, we will start publishing them. We will post only when we receive requests for advice, but we hope to make this a weekly column very soon!

So, if you want to submit to our new column, here’s what you need to know:

  1. All questions will be anonymous, and we suggest you use a creative pen name to sign off as so you know your question is being answered! If you can’t think of a creative pen name, first names ONLY will be allowed!
  2. When asking your question, give as much information as you feel comfortable doing so that Fearless can give the best advice possible. Don’t feel like you need to write a 10 page novel, but make sure you give the information that could change the direction of the advice.
  3. We take questions from any age and from any category, but we will never answer a question that we don’t have the answer for. In that case, we may suggest you talk to someone who has more answers than us, but don’t let that discourage you! Fearless has a lot of knowledge about many topics, so send them in and we’ll do our best to help you!
  4. You can submit more than one question if you have many questions that you’d like to ask! Our only request is that if you have several questions you need advice for, and they don’t fit in to the original post, ask them in separate questions!

For those who want to submit, use the form below! Make sure you include the topic of your question, and then write the letter in the Dear Fearless… box. Despite it’s size, your entire message will fit into it! Then, right below that, enter your pen name for anonymity, and then hit submit. We’ll be notified with an email as soon as you send it, and we’ll respond to it as soon as we can

We genuinely hope that this is something that is quite popular with our readers, because we are very excited to get this started. If you have any other questions regarding Dear Fearless… feel free to leave them in the comments or to shoot us an email at contact@hashtagfearless.com.

If you would like to email #Fearless, you can send any questions, concerns, comments or suggestions to contact@hashtagfearless.com. We do our best to respond within 48 hours, but if for some reason we cannot get back to you in that time frame, we promise we will always respond as soon as possible. You can also find us on any of the following social media sites: FacebookTwitterPinterest and Instagram!

Lastly, we run an Emetophobia Support Group on Facebook. Emetophobia is the intense and irrational fear of throwing up, and it is one struggle we are passionately engaged in. It is a closed, by request only group to help facilitate sharing and support by all members. It is also private, meaning that the posts you and others make will not show up publicly in your newsfeed.

#Fearless Quote of the Week: July 10-16

This week’s quote was chosen by Chelsie S., writer for (and owner of) #Fearless. See what it is and why she chose it below:

Insta Quote July 10“When I look back on my life, this quote is the epitome of where I’ve come and it resonates with me far more than I ever intended. My life has drastically changed, yet I am stronger, more independent, more me, than I have ever been in my entire life. I find that each day I am changing, and I’m discovering a new part of myself that has been there all this time, yet been carefully hidden behind fear, anxiety and self doubt. I am not the same person I was a year ago, let alone a week ago, and for the first time in my life that doesn’t entirely scare me. Change is inevitable, so it might as well be for the better.”

Do you want to be featured on #Fearless? It’s as simple as sending in your favorite inspirational quote, poetry verse, movie quote or song lyric, and explaining why you love it! To submit a quote, please visit the #Fearless QOTW submission page, or email the quote, the author and why you chose it to contact@hashtagfearless.com.

We can’t wait to see what makes you feel #Fearless!

If you would like to email #Fearless, you can send any questions, concerns, comments or suggestions to contact@hashtagfearless.com. We do our best to respond within 48 hours, but if for some reason we cannot get back to you in that time frame, we promise we will always respond as soon as possible. You can also find us on any of the following social media sites: FacebookTwitterPinterest and Instagram!

Lastly, we run an Emetophobia Support Group on Facebook. Emetophobia is the intense and irrational fear of throwing up, and it is one struggle we are passionately engaged in. It is a closed, by request only group to help facilitate sharing and support by all members. It is also private, meaning that the posts you and others make will not show up publicly in your newsfeed.

#Fearless Family: When You Think You Know Best For Someone With Mental Illness

By Face to Face With The Sky
#Fearless Family Writer

I like to think of myself as a compassionate person. The type who puts myself in other people’s shoes. I’m there for my friends, and when needed I’m a shoulder to cry on.

But sometimes, I’m not the sweet, compassionate person I think I am.

Last year, my close friend was diagnosed with a mental health condition. We’re in touch almost constantly, sharing feelings and swapping ideas. As someone who has also been through my share of mental illness, I find it easy to have compassion for her.

Until she makes a choice I don’t agree with.

When that happens, I feel my blood boiling. Gone is the compassionate understanding friend. Instead I’m angry. How could she do such a thing? Doesn’t she see she’s only making her recovery harder?

Once I lashed out and gave her a lecture about what she “should” do instead. How do you think that went over? You guessed it: she felt alienated and I felt like was talking to a brick wall. Did she take my advice? Nope. Did it strain our friendship and therefore leave her without the support she needed? Yes.

We made up and our friendship is back to normal. But that experience taught me a powerful lesson. As someone who’s been on both sides—giving and receiving advice about mental illness—let me share with you a few truths.

Truth 1: Assume you do not know what is best for someone with a mental illness.

The only caveat here is safety related. If the individual is in danger of harming themselves, then they need your help to get care. But you’re still walking a fine line. Tell them you care about them and you’re concerned about their safety. Then help them access expert care without giving them a lecture.

Truth 2: You cannot force someone not to suffer. Nor should you.

A common misconception is that all suffering should be ended immediately by whatever means necessary. If you think that your friend is suffering because he is choosing to suffer, take a closer look at the situation. Assuming you know how to “fix” their suffering is besides the point. If they don’t want your help, they have a right to run their own life. Do not deny someone the dignity of choosing their own path, even if it involves suffering. Again, the only caveat here is if the individual is in danger of harming themselves. Then expert care and your love—not a lecture—are needed.

Truth 3: Beware of codependent tendencies.

Examine your desire to “help” your friend. Are you in danger of rescuing in order to make yourself, not them, feel better? Beware of rescuing instead of listening. Sometimes this requires boundary setting on your part—maybe your friend is wanting you to rescue him or her. Either way, tell your friend you care about them and are there to listen, not to fix everything for them.

Truth 4: It’s impossible to understand someone else’s reality.

And the follow up to this: you cannot understand someone else’s reality better than they do. This boundary is vital to families, friendships…really every relationship between human beings ever. Realize people are making the best choices they can according to their minds, emotions, and perceptions, none of which you have access to.  We need to establish trust that people are experiencing what they say they are experiencing. And we need to dignify that experience with letting them make their own choices as much as possible.

What do you think of this topic? Have you offered support to someone with a mental health condition? Do you agree or disagree with the ideas above? We’d love to hear your feedback!

Thank you to Face to Face With The Sky for this extremely informative article!

If you would like to join the #Fearless Family, please visit the #Fearless Family page for more information on submission guidelines!

If you would like to email #Fearless, you can send any questions, concerns, comments or suggestions to contact@hashtagfearless.com. We do our best to respond within 48 hours, but if for some reason we cannot get back to you in that time frame, we promise we will always respond as soon as possible. You can also find us on any of the following social media sites: FacebookTwitterPinterest and Instagram!

Lastly, we run an Emetophobia Support Group on Facebook. Emetophobia is the intense and irrational fear of throwing up, and it is one struggle we are passionately engaged in. It is a closed, by request only group to help facilitate sharing and support by all members. It is also private, meaning that the posts you and others make will not show up publicly in your newsfeed.

But Does It Work? Alcohol & Food Poisoning Prevention

The following conversation you are about to read is in no way exaggerated or altered in any way; it probably literally went just like this:

“I looooove shrimp,” said Jane Doe.

“Oh, I don’t eat seafood, to me it seems far too risky to eat. Plus, every time a family member has gotten food poisoning it’s from seafood.”

“Well, I eat shrimp without fear because I take a shot of alcohol before I eat any seafood,” exclaimed Jane Doe.

“What? Why does that matter?” I was completely flabbergasted as to what that correlation was.

“You don’t know?” she said. “They say if you take a shot of alcohol, like vodka for example, it helps kill any bacteria that could make you sick in your stomach! I do it every time I eat seafood, and so far? I haven’t been sick.”

Now, if you know me, not only was I insanely skeptical, but I started smirking while thinking my favorite phrase: correlation does not imply causation. Beyond all that, if this was something that was so widely known, why weren’t people capitalizing on it? Why wasn’t there a great need for seafood with a shot?

And, considering the 4th of July was yesterday, I figured why not get festive with today’s article. We’re getting to the bottom of this scenario and asking the most important question of all time: but does it work?

Initial Thoughts

Upon talking with Jane Doe (no really, a conversation like that DID happen at an old job) I immediately wrote off her “shot with seafood” concept. I couldn’t imagine that something as simple as a shot of alcohol, or even just drinking wine and beer, could help prevent food poisoning. It sounded a bit far fetched, but as we’ve established time and time again, I’m pretty skeptical of magical fixes for seemingly uncontrollable circumstances.

But, it did get me thinking… Alcohol based sanitizers, while different than drinking alcohol, do help kill bacteria and germs on your hands. In theory, why couldn’t this work the same way? Instead of using hand sanitizer, you’re just drinking your sanitizer. Well that came out weirder than I intended. It also sounds gross, and harmful, so please don’t actually drink hand sanitizer!

While I’ve yet to try it out for myself, it got my brain wheels going just enough to help me begin to research the topic.

The Research

When I first asked the all-knowing Google “alcohol prevents food poisoning”, one of the first articles I found was one by the NY Times. In it, they did the same thing that I’m doing right now, which is research and explain the facts. What they found is that alcohol of at least 10% proof or higher would be needed in order to simply reduce the severity of potential foodborne illness. One study they quoted in particular involved Hepatitis A contamination of oysters, and the study found that those who had partook in several alcoholic beverages either did not get Hepatitis A or it greatly reduced the severity of the illness.

The reason for this, they said, is because alcohol increases the secretion of stomach acid. What they didn’t elaborate on is why the additional secretions of stomach acid could help, so I took to Google again for a brief side mission.

Apparently, salmonella (specifically) can be killed with high levels of acidity. Our stomachs typically sit around 1.5-3.5 pH, which is well high enough to kill salmonella. However, after we eat, our stomach pH temporarily rises to 6.0 (almost neutral) then lowers again for digestion. According to Nature.com, salmonella can survive in that pH level, which is why salmonella can infect us despite it’s ability to be killed in our stomach acid.

What all this means is despite our stomach’s pH temporarily rising when we eat, if we drink it causes our stomach to secrete more of the acid (thus making it more acidic), it is possible that if one consumed enough alcohol it could keep the stomach’s pH low enough to ultimately kill salmonella prior to infecting the host.

Neat right? But the above information really just talked about salmonella, and didn’t really delve into other viruses and bacteria. If you’re interested in taking a read, there’s this very scientific article regarding viral infections and their sensitivities to pH that might help you make some conclusions on your own. Or, it might confuse the mess out of you, like it did with me. I will, however, off the TL;DR? version, which is that many viruses are pH sensitive, and explains how the pH of the human body plays a huge role in how viruses replicate.

But I digress…

By the end of the article, the NY Times felt that while it may not 100% prevent you from getting sick, it could drastically reduce the severity of your illness. However, one research effort by the NY Times isn’t enough to really garner a case here. So off to Google I went again in search of information.

What was interesting, especially after researching a little bit about salmonella specifically, is that I found that all the other cases of effective prevention and/or reduction of symptoms from foodborne illness came from salmonella infections. Or, at least, the ones that have been studied.

It appears that whether it’s a stroke of interesting scientific luck, or simply coincidence, most food poisoning cases that are evaluated for alcohol as a preventative measure against infection have come back with salmonella, except for one case that discussed Hepatitis A.

You can see those abstracts by clicking here and here, and also by reading an article on it here. There was one other case where listeria was found to be effected by alcohol consumption, but like with both of these situations, the case numbers to research are very small currently.

One thing that is worth noting is that most of these cases include either a very specific ABV number (such as the beverage containing 10% or more ABV), mentioned how many drinks were consumed (it seems the more you drank, the lower your risk of infection), or they specifically mentioned red wine as the drink of choice. Red wine has been found to have antimicrobial properties, and conveniently has an average of 11.5% to 13.5% ABV.

Final Thoughts

I’m actually feeling very good going into this final thoughts. Usually, at this point, I feel like I’m going to be slashing dreams and opening myself up for extreme criticism. I still feel like I could open myself up for hate mail, but I’m excited to give you my final thoughts on this.

But before I give you my opinion on whether or not I think this works, I do want to leave you with one caveat of information:

What the research world is lacking is exploration of other virulent cases of foodborne illnesses, like e.coli, shigella, noro, botulism, and many more, in relation to alcohol. I’m not sure if this is because salmonella and listeria are more common than the others, or if there hasn’t been an outbreak involving other illnesses that happened in a mass setting like a dinner or catered meal that probed further research. Either way, that’s a huge piece to the puzzle that I think will really help solidify whether or not this is a valid way to prevent food poisoning.

Now, with all the research that I have read, I actually think I can say this could work – at least if you have salmonella, listeria and/or Hepatitis A. The issue with this method, for me, is that you just don’t know if something is or isn’t contaminated. To me, I’m not always in the mood for alcohol, and I’m not going to drink it “just in case” at every meal.

There’s also the part where it may not entirely prevent it. Many studies found that it wasn’t a 100% preventative measure, and many times it just reduced the severity. Of course, that in itself could be seen as a worthy reason to try something. After all, they have TamiFlu for influenza that is supposed to reduce the severity and longevity of the flu virus.

And, like most methods of preventative care, why you do it and how frequently you do it is absolutely something to keep in mind. Moderation is key, and acting out of fear is the wrong reason to partake in a ritual that could (but not definitively) keep you safe.

Too Long; Didn’t Read?

Alcohol as a preventative measure and/or symptom reducer for food poisoning is something that I think I can say yes to, to a degree.

In the case of salmonella, listeria and Hepatitis A, the research has found that drinking at least 10% proof and/or multiple glasses of red wine can help reduce your risk of foodborne illness. However, there isn’t a lot of reserach (I’d go as far as to say none) in regards to other illnesses like e.coli, shigella, botulism, noro, and more.

While alcohol can reduce your risks of foodborne illness, moderation is key! Foodborne illness is something that is less frequent than we’d imagine, and extremely uncontrollable! And, in an infamous warning, correlation does not imply causation. Just because it seems to work, does not mean it actually did. There are so many factors that play into why we get sick, many of which do not get treated by a doctor, so keep that in mind too!

Well this was actually super enlightening! I’m so happy I can actually give good news on BDIW? this week instead of my normal, “Sorry… this doesn’t work, despite popular belief.”

Have something you’d like for us to look into for BDIW? Let us know in the comments, or shoot us an email at contact@hashtagfearless.com.

If you would like to email #Fearless, you can send any questions, concerns, comments or suggestions to contact@hashtagfearless.com. We do our best to respond within 48 hours, but if for some reason we cannot get back to you in that time frame, we promise we will always respond as soon as possible. You can also find us on any of the following social media sites: FacebookTwitterPinterest and Instagram!

Lastly, we run an Emetophobia Support Group on Facebook. Emetophobia is the intense and irrational fear of throwing up, and it is one struggle we are passionately engaged in. It is a closed, by request only group to help facilitate sharing and support by all members. It is also private, meaning that the posts you and others make will not show up publicly in your newsfeed.

#Fearless Quote of the Week: July 3-July 9

This week’s quote was chosen by Chelsie S., writer for (and owner of) #Fearless. See what it is and why she chose it below:

Insta Quote July 3“This week is a very special week for me, so this quote is a bit more personal than it usually is. In just 4 days, I’ll have been with my husband, partner in crime and best friend for 10 years total. We started dating July 7, 2007, and it’s been the best 10 years of my life – so far. This quote, when I saw it, rang so true to me because when we started dating it was the first time in a very long time I felt truly comfortable and safe being myself. Now, at almost 10 years, this quote is even more true than it was back then. He has helped me discover myself, after a lifetime of being who I thought the world wanted me to be. He’s been by my side the entire journey, and I have nothing but gratitude and love to give him in return. Being myself around him is so easy; so easy that I wonder what it is I did before I knew him. Thank you, you have no idea how much you’ve changed my life for the better.”

Do you want to be featured on #Fearless? It’s as simple as sending in your favorite inspirational quote, poetry verse, movie quote or song lyric, and explaining why you love it! To submit a quote, please visit the #Fearless QOTW submission page, or email the quote, the author and why you chose it to contact@hashtagfearless.com.

We can’t wait to see what makes you feel #Fearless!

If you would like to email #Fearless, you can send any questions, concerns, comments or suggestions to contact@hashtagfearless.com. We do our best to respond within 48 hours, but if for some reason we cannot get back to you in that time frame, we promise we will always respond as soon as possible. You can also find us on any of the following social media sites: FacebookTwitterPinterest and Instagram!

Lastly, we run an Emetophobia Support Group on Facebook. Emetophobia is the intense and irrational fear of throwing up, and it is one struggle we are passionately engaged in. It is a closed, by request only group to help facilitate sharing and support by all members. It is also private, meaning that the posts you and others make will not show up publicly in your newsfeed.

#Fearless Family: Coping Does Not Equal Better

By Leigh
#Fearless Family Writer

I suffer migraines.

That sentence could end with any sort of chronic illness or pain. Arthritis. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Fibromyalgia. Cancer. The list goes on. I suffer…

Many of us use this terminology because of the danger of using a different one. The real sentence is: I cope with migraines. You cope with pain. You cope with fatigue. You pick yourself up day after day and you get done what needs doing. You do either the same amount as someone who doesn’t deal with chronic illness or pain or you manage what you are capable of at that point in time. The reason “I cope” is so dangerous is that it begins a flood of well-wishing that becomes a tipping point into expectation.

“You’re doing great!”

“I’m so glad to see how well you’re doing!”

“It’s fantastic how well you’ve managed to keep up!”

“We’re so proud of how well you’ve done!”

These feel great at the start, but after a while they become a burden. Soon it can become:

“What happened? Last week you were able to go out with us.”

“You met the deadline last month.”

“I thought you were getting better.”

We cope because we have to. We manage because we have to. For those of us with chronic conditions, we do this because we have no other choice. It is sad, but true. For every article about how brave we are, about how we overcome, there’s one of us sitting back, head in her hands, wondering how she’s going to make it another day and not knowing who she can talk to.

You can call me brave, but there are days I do not feel brave. There are days I want to scream and days I want to cry. There are days I want to give up and hand over the keys. I have had serious thoughts of walking in the hospital doors and begging that they take over for a week because, “Haven’t I managed long enough?”

It may seem uplifting to tell your friend that they seem to be doing better, but they aren’t always the kindest words to give. Many of us maintain because it’s the only option we have. Maybe we’re out of sick days. Maybe we have none to begin with. Especially in these days of uncertainty of the future of health care, we have to be extremely careful. Just because I wake up and get to work every morning doesn’t mean each morning is easier than the last.

Instead of telling your friend, “You must be doing better,” consider reaching out to them with an offer to help out. Don’t be pushy, but even a, “Want me to bring by dinner rather than going out this weekend?” can be a lifesaver. Volunteer to take your brother out to grab his weekly groceries. You know your friend has to pick up her cat litter each week, so maybe pick it up for her.

The small things help. The small things do more than you could ever imagine… because it’s the small things that break us. It’s the dishes that pile up in our sinks because we needed to be able to get through the shower instead. It’s the litter box because we couldn’t manage to bend over. It’s the laundry piling up because our hands were shaking too much.

To manage the big things like working so that our lights stay on and we can feed ourselves, we have to let those little things that no one else sees fall through the cracks. Unfortunately, we see them. They stare us in the face each and every day. These are the hardest parts of the ‘invisible illness’ sometimes. The outside world sees the strong face, but we walk in the door each and every night to be faced with the reminders of where we fail.

So remember… we cope, but we never see the results of coping. Coping does not equal better.

Thank you to Leigh for sharing this wonderful and informative story!

If you would like to join the #Fearless Family, please visit the #Fearless Family page for more information on submission guidelines!

If you would like to email #Fearless, you can send any questions, concerns, comments or suggestions to contact@hashtagfearless.com. We do our best to respond within 48 hours, but if for some reason we cannot get back to you in that time frame, we promise we will always respond as soon as possible. You can also find us on any of the following social media sites: FacebookTwitterPinterest and Instagram!

Lastly, we run an Emetophobia Support Group on Facebook. Emetophobia is the intense and irrational fear of throwing up, and it is one struggle we are passionately engaged in. It is a closed, by request only group to help facilitate sharing and support by all members. It is also private, meaning that the posts you and others make will not show up publicly in your newsfeed.