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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.

You Don’t Know Shit: Understanding Your Poop

Yes, you read that title right: today we’re talking about poop.

I think it’s a commonly misunderstood aspect of our bodily function, and being that I’m emetophobic and in a emetophobia support group on Facebook, poop is a regularly discussed topic.

I joked about a year ago about making an article titled just as this one is, but never did anything with it. But, now that I’m writing again and wanting to put good into this world, I figured now is just as good of a time as ever.

So, without further ado (this might be a pun), let’s learn about poop.

What is Poop?

Before we can do any other kind of learning, we have to understand what poop is.

Poop is literally just whatever is left after your body extracts the valuable nutrients and resources from the food and water we ingest.  In simple terms, it’s just whatever is left after our intestines have taken what it needs. Sometimes, our food moves too quickly through our intestines which causes a lack of absorption (called diarrhea), and in other times, our intestines absorb too much, making it hard to pass or almost unpassable (called constipation).

All poop tells a story of what your body is going through, so we’re going to make sure to touch on all areas of that to help you feel less concerned about your bowels.

Let’s Talk About Normal

I’m a huge proponent of normal is whatever is typical for you, but in this case, there is a level of normalcy that you should be looking for when it comes to your poop. According to Healthline (and several other sources I researched through), you are looking for the following characteristics of “normal” poop:

  1. Color. Your poop should be brown, and not just any brown: Bilirubin brown. Bilirubin is the shade of the pigment compound that is created when red blood cells break down in the body. Now you know, you’re welcome Internet. We’ll get to this more in depth shortly.
  2. Shape. Typically, your poop should be log shaped, but even normal poops have variance. Really, what you’re looking for is a nice cylindrical log. Wow, these are words I thought I’d never be typing.
  3. Size. You don’t want anything too small, too thin, too large. Just like the Three Bears, you want something that is just right. I feel wrong for soiling (more poop puns, God help us all) such a classic children’s story.
  4. Consistency. Look, I don’t know what tell you here other than if your poop looks like soup or soft serve, it’s not considered “normal”. It can range between firm and kind of soft, but it shouldn’t be too far on either end of the spectrum.
  5. Length (of time). I bet y’all were thinking I was about to say length of your poop. That’s just nasty. No one is measuring poop. Except maybe a poop scientist. It’s still nasty though. Please don’t measure your poop.Anyways, a normal, healthy poop should only take about a minute or two to pass, and you shouldn’t be sitting there longer than 10-15 minutes. Anything longer than that and you’re likely constipated. Or, just sitting there watching Fail compilations on YouTube. It’s really hard to know for sure.
  6. Frequency. How often you poop is actually super important. Most people have a normal poop schedule that their body adheres to every day, and you’ll likely find they poop around the same time no matter what. In fact, a healthy person likely poops anywhere between every other day and three times a day.Pooping less than once in a 2-3 day span is not normal, but doesn’t necessarily indicate a life threatening issue. Same with pooping more often than 3 times a day; it may not be normal, but it doesn’t mean there are any serious underlying factors. Though, if it helps to ease your mind, most of the reasons are not serious and range from dehydration and stress, to bowl disorders like IBS-C or your period (for our period having humans).

The Bristol Stool Scale

So, here comes the fun part. The Bristol Stool Scale (BSS) was created to help identify six different types of stools, and what they usually indicate for your health. You can find a photo of the BSS here, or really you can just google BSS and find a ton of examples. They’re not as cute as the one I linked you, but I mean, to each their own.

So, let’s talk about how the BSS classifies your poops.

  1. Type 1 (Constipation). When you’re constipated, typically going is tough (OH GOD, ANOTHER ONE), but when you do go while constipated you’ll notice that you’re likely going to see pellets, lumps, or marble shaped poops. They’ll be hard to pass, and they shouldn’t happen often.
  2. Type 2 (Mild Constipation). Lumpy logs are not a sign of healthy poops. It essentially is a sign of constipation, but here’s the good news: lumpy logs are closer to normal, which means you’re on the right path.
  3. Type 3 (Normal). The holy grail of poops. All poops desire to be this poop. It’s log shaped, normal colored, and easy to pass. Also there are cracks on the surface but they aren’t fractured off. Yeah, we’re actually talking about this.
  4. Type 4 (Normal). While not the gold star poop of Type 3, these snake like poops are still considered normal, and apparently should be happening every couple of days (1-3 to be exact). That said, the lack of snek poops is probably fine too.
  5. Type 5 (Less Normal). I kind of made up the name of Type 5 because the name they have is Amoebas and I feel like as cool as that name is, it’s not scientific. Anyways, the concept of Type 5 is essentially poops with clear cut edges that are similar to Type 1, but are easy to pass and are soft. Basically? You lack fiber, so up that fiber intake and you’ll be back to Gold Star pooping in no time.
  6. Type 6 (Mild Diarrhea). I was only half joking when I told you that your poop shouldn’t look like soft serve. The best way to describe it is it looks like the delicious frozen treat, but honestly don’t think too much about it or else you’ll have a hard time eating FroYo again. Typically, it’s fluffy and mushy, but can also have a softer and looser consistency.
  7. Type 7 (Diarrhea). If you are going and it’s completely watery, this is true diarrhea. Your stool moved too quickly through your bowels, which could be caused by many factors, most of which aren’t serious or any reason for concern. Another fun fact: most American’s have 2-3 bouts of “no cause” diarrhea a year. That number is an average, but can fluctuate based on many external factors.

Other Poop Factors To Consider

So, at this point, let’s just talk a little more in depth about some of the other factors of poop to consider. The first thing I want to touch on is color. We briefly explained what healthy poop should look like, but a very common question people have is what the color of your poop means.

And, if I know anything from panic googling that information on my own, it’s that it will always tell you you’re dying. What I’ve done is take out the panic, and added a couple more of the reasons for why your poop could be off colored.

  1. Black. So I think if many people see black poop they’re going to immediately assume it’s dangerous, but I have some good news for you: black poop can be caused by a lot of less threatening reasons. If you eat licorice, take iron supplements, or have been taking Pepto Bismol (or other bismuth meds), that could explain your darker poops. If that doesn’t seem like what you’ve been doing lately, it could mean bleeding in the intestinal tract, but before you immediately panic remember that typically that would be associated with other symptoms. But, as always, if you have a concern consult with your doctor.
  2. Green. Full green isn’t exactly what we’re looking for when it comes to healthy, but if your poop has hints of green but is still predominantly brown, it’s not green poop. Brown poop with hints of green is considered normal still, so if you’re worried about that, at least its out of the way now.Now, green poop, while not normal, usually has very little cause for concern. If you’ve been eating a lot of leafy greens, or even just heavily green pigmented foods, your poops will likely turn green. It’s also just a sign that your food has passed too quickly and it didn’t have time to absorb. Bile salts are the cause for green poop, so typically green poop is just a sign that you didn’t pick up the bilirubin and you’re likely fine.
  3. Pale, White or Clay Colored. Now, I’m not going to lie to you, this coloration is usually something that requires a doctor but before you panic, it’s not necessarily the end of the world. Pale, white or clay colored poops typically indicate that you’re lacking bile, and bile comes from the gallbladder and liver. So, if you’re having stools this color, it may not be a bad idea to just get your liver and gallbladder checked. That said, some medications (especially anti diarrhea meds) can cause white, pale or clay colored poops.
  4. Red. I think the first and most obvious reason for red poops would be blood or bleeding. That said, if your poop does have blood in it, and it’s red, it’s usually nothing to panic heavily over. Typically red poops are the sign of hemorrhoids or bleeding in the lower intestinal tract. That said though, a diet that’s heavy in reds (like beets, cranberries, red gelatin, or tomato juice) can also tint your poop red. If you’re concerned, always consult a doctor.
  5. Yellow. Poops of this color are usually greasy, smell terrible, and are a sign you’ve got way too much fat in your diet. This kind of poop can also be an indication of Celiac’s disease or some other malabsorption issue. Bottom line? Go see a doctor if you’re experiencing these poops. They’ll be pretty obvious to you, and if you have to ask, it likely isn’t. So at least there’s that!

The last thing I want to discuss around poop is this: when in doubt, call a doctor. Most cases of abnormal poops have causes that are not serious in nature. People with anxiety or high levels of stress may see changes in poop frequency and consistency. Not eating enough and not being well hydrated can cause diarrhea, and this is especially true for people who aren’t eating the right foods.

Drastic changes in diet, schedule, or routine can cause changes in poop habits. It’s why many people who are going through a routine shift for work, school or holiday’s may see a shift in bowel habits.

Plus, people who have IBS-C/D, Celiac, or other illnesses that affect the gastro intestinal tract may see changes in bowl habits. These usually require doctor diagnosis, but if that is something that you deal with, having abnormal bowel movements may be your normal, and that’s fine too.

Like I said, when in doubt, call a doctor. But, in most cases this is the information you need to help determine if your poops are healthy or verging on unhealthy!

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.

Literally Just A Bunch Of ADHD Memes That Are Hella Relateable

Need I say more? Here’s a list of some of the best ADHD memes we could conjure up, because who doesn’t love a good laugh on behalf of our mental health.

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sweetlittlekitty: “ drunkenfist: “ ariannemartell: “ there are no other options ” thats basically it ” YES ”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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ADHD moods, time, memory modes

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Most people think that ADHD doesn't effect you very much. But It comes with it's own form of anxiety and depression.

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Sometimes it takes me more than eight hours to get nothing done. - ecard

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Image result for adhd memes

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A day with ADHD bingo.

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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.

Fictional Holidays That You Really Should Be Celebrating

I don’t know about you, but I love holidays. It’s a reason to make themed food, and decorate your home for literally no reason other than corporate America tells you to. I honestly feel like there could always be more holidays, because there’s really nothing like a holiday to really lift your spirits. If you’re like me, and wishing you could celebrate more than just those boring old, traditional holidays, I’ve got a surprise for you: you can and I’ll show you how.

Thanks to the creative minds of television, movies, and just a handful of awesome humans, you can never feel bored with your holiday choices again!

Sluzzle Tag (The Amazing World of Gumball): January 10

In case you were feeling particularly sad after Christmas, and need a little pick me up, Sluzzle Tag is the holiday for you. Don your most festive grindcore attire (or, just opt for leather, studs, and black), wrap your toilet in barbed wire, and feast upon the greasiest fried food you can find. Exchange gifts that are ridiculous or unwanted from Christmas, and enjoy the sweet serenade of grindcore/screamo/metal music. Honestly, what more could you ask for? Sure, the date has passed for this year, but it means you get this to look forward to next you, and trust me, you should do it.

Gallentine’s Day (Parks & Rec): February 13

While this holiday is a little more mainstream now, it started off fictional so we’re going to add it to the list. Leslie Knope was one of the most inspiring women on television, so it’s not surprising that she came up with the most empowering female holiday: Gallentine’s Day. The day before Valentine’s Day, gather up your closest gal pals for brunch, or really anything you can to celebrate them, and make sure you let them know how much they mean to you. It’s literally just a party meant to bring together your favorite girl friends to celebrate your friendship, which means it can be celebrated however you see fit! However, if you don’t have waffles, I’ve heard that Leslie Knope will appear in front of you and loudly proclaim you had something to do with the death of Lil Sebastian – and honestly, no one wants that to happen.

Leif Erikson Day (Spongebob Squarepants): October 9

So, this is technically a stretch because Leif Erikson Day is technically a holiday in the U.S. That said, it got it’s notoriety from Spongebob, so it’s going on our list. Bubble Buddy was the larger focus of the episode that birthed Leif Erikson Day, but it’s hard to not want to don your viking beard and helm, and exclaim, “Hinga-dinga-durgen!” While the details of how to celebrate Leif Erikson Day aren’t exactly explain in the show, I don’t see it as a big deal. Just take Leif Erikson Day and make it your own special holiday where you all dress up as vikings and do as the vikings did. If you need some ideas on how to have fun like a viking, may I recommend this site? I’m especially intrigued by the game “Birth A Bear.” Yeah, you’re welcome.

Life Day (The Holiday Special, Star Wars): November 17

A celebration notably celebrated by Wookiees and Kashyyyk, Life Day was meant to symbolize peace, harmony and a the diversity of the planet they inhabited. Wookiees would decorate their homes with trees and garland. It’s kind of like a strange Christmas and Thanksgiving hybrid, if I had to give it a more modern and realistic feel. That said, the idea that Star Wars gave birth to a holiday meant to celebrate the diversity of the inhabitants of a single planet sounds like something we absolutely need in our lives right now. Celebrate however you see fit, but put a focus on peace, love, harmony, and all the amazing aspects that make us different.

Wolfenoot (Facebook Post): November 23

Created by a little boy out of New Zealand, this holiday has captured the hearts of many. Wolfenoot is essentially Christmas for everyone, but it celebrates the idea that the the Spirit of the Wolf will bring extra gifts to those who are kind to dogs. The website explains that you can eat roasted meat and make a cake that looks like a full moon. The spirit of the holiday is simply to be kind to dogs, and give back to pets however you can. Buy your dogs gifts, donate to a shelter or sanctuary for dogs or wolves, or celebrate any other way you see fit! So long as you are kind to dogs, the Spirit of the Wolf will look kindly upon you.

What other fictional holiday’s are you gearing up for this year? How do you celebrate? Let us know, maybe we’ll do a part two in the future!

Until next time, Internet!

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.

6 Things An Emetophobic In Recovery Wants Struggling Emets to Know

Hey you.

Yes you – the emetophobic reading these words.

Please know that whether you have just discovered this crippling phobia has a name, or you’re at your lowest of lows, I’ve been there. I’ve walked in your foot steps and I know things are so hard right now. You may be really stuck, or perhaps you’re just beginning to explore how to make your life better but haven’t found anything that’s made an impact.

I’m here to tell you, it’s okay, I get you, and I want to help you in the only way I know how: by offering advice from someone who’s been there, done that.

So, here’s what I feel like you need to know as you begin to process your emetophobia:

You Are Your Only Obstacle

I think when many people are in the grips of emetophobia, they have a very strong external locus of control. This essentially means that we are convinced that external factors and stimuli control us; and that those external things determine our success and safety in the world. But that’s just not true! We emets are in control of our every action. We are the reason we don’t go out; we are the reason our thoughts run wild. No one else, nothing else, is the reason for that.

Getting into a place where you can start the recovery journey means accepting that you are the only obstacle standing in your way, and you are the only obstacle keeping you from doing what you want. You create the thoughts that paralyze you, you create the scenarios that keep you home; all it takes is recognizing that the same amount of energy that goes into creating the situations that scare you can be turned into the same thoughts that rid you of the constant suffering.

It Does Get Better

I think this one may be overlooked as stereotypical, but I genuinely can’t stress to you enough it does get better. But, what I think most people assume from that is: it’ll get better on it’s own. It won’t – you have to ignite and propel that change forward, but once you’re ready to make that change you’ll notice that with time, patience and hard work, it will get better.

It may take you a while to get there, but don’t give up. It took me 7 years of weekly therapy to be at a point where I confidently felt like I had a handle on my emetophobia. You didn’t read that wrong: 7 years. I spent the first 2 years just slowly crawling forward. I didn’t see noticeable differences until that point, and even then I was still struggling. But, slow and steady wins the race, and I can safely say, on the other side, it gets better.

You Are Stronger Than You Know

Most of the battle of overcoming emetophobia comes from within. I was recently talking with someone and they told me that the only reason why they got through a scary situation was because they had to; they had no other choice. That got me thinking, and it landed me in a place where I concluded what they said and what I heard were two totally different things. What they said was, I only faced it because I had to. I heard, I got through this situation even when I thought I couldn’t; and I think that’s something we could all bear to hear.

Never forget that in the moments where you feel like you have no choice to face what you fear most, and you conquer it, that the strength you found is always there. It exists, even in moments when we have a choice. You have always been that strong, you have always possessed the ability to handle those terrifying situations; you just didn’t know you could. So dig deep and muster up the courage, strength and drive that got you through those “I had no choice moments” and put them into your day to day life.

Aim for Normalcy, Not “Cured”

I know when I started my recovery, I longed for “cured” and whole heartedly believed that I would end up completely emet free. No more obsessions, no more irrationality, no more fear. As I began to shift in my thoughts through weekly therapy and began to understand what caused my emetophobia, I started realizing that “cured” isn’t feasible; it isn’t obtainable. At least, not for me, and it’s probably going to be the same for most emets. I know this sounds incredibly depressing, but hear me out.

When you start your journey, don’t aim to be cured, because I can tell you that cured isn’t what I am by all definitions of the word. I still struggle with intrusive thoughts and anxiety about emet, and I still have tough days where I may spiral a little more than I want to. That isn’t cured in my eyes because cured means the absence of the phobia. To me, setting the bar for that automatically sets us up for failure when our standards for cured aren’t met. If I only judged my recovery based on cured standards, I would have given up ages ago.

But, a simple shift in how we view our journey gives way to what you can strive for that is achievable: Normalcy. Gaining control of your life, your thoughts again. Gaining control of your diet, your emotions, your thoughts. This will get you back to what you will discover is normal. Normal is different for everyone, but when normal hits, you’ll know, and it’ll be your biggest drive to stay motivated. Recovery is less about the absence of thoughts and anxiety, and more about being able to cope with whatever your irrational brain throws at you without missing a single beat. Strive for normalcy, not cured, and you’ll find your journey to recovery is so much smoother.

Healing Is Not Linear

This is my favorite misconception when it comes to mental health: that our journey to recovery and normalcy will be a straight line upwards. I’m here to tell you that’s not how it is, and you will likely see peaks and valleys as you traverse into the unknown of beating a phobia that has likely had it’s grips on you for decades. You will likely take two steps forward, three steps back early on; then you may hit a moment where you shoot upwards without ever dipping down. And, sometimes, after you’ve hit that mountain top, you tumble back into the lowest valley and have to climb back out, but you’re never back at zero.

You started at 0, but as you climb and fall, you will never land back where you started. How do I know this? Because throughout your journey you’ve grown stronger, gained tools, conquered battles that starting you could never have even imagined. You may have hit a low point, and it may be your lowest point in a long time, but you are not at square 1 again. You are simply experiencing the unique and sometimes wildly unpredictable nature that is mental health.

Be Kind To Yourself

Which leads me to my final and ultimately the most important lesson you can learn: be kind to yourself. Celebrate those little victories that may seem insignificant to others. Take the time to listen to your body and self care when you’re going through harder days. Don’t always feel like you have to be constantly pushing yourself, you deserve a break too. Recognize that a lifelong battle with a phobia means you have to take time to unlearn all the thoughts and coping skills you put into place to protect yourself. It won’t happen over night.

You are literally learning how to undo conditions put into place by your brain to keep you safer from a threat that literally seems like life or death; it’s okay that you’re not magically better. You are walking your own path, that no one else has walked. Comparison is a theif of joy, so don’t let anyone (especially yourself!) take the positive aspects of your journey away from you.

Every day that you get up and face the demons that you left standing by your bedside the night before, you are proof that you are strong enough to take them down. You are a true warrior, and I hope you never forget that.

Until next time, Internet.

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: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram!

Lastly, we support 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 Babbles: Change

Sometimes I sit down to write posts and I have no direction. In all honesty, those posts don’t usually end up on my site. Why? Because I spend a lot of time staring into my computer screen screaming. It’s… just something I’m used to by now. But today I decided to flip the script, and I’m just going to write whatever comes to mind because why wouldn’t I just give it a shot?

I feel like, in many ways, I am always thinking. I have so much going on, whirring by in my brain that I struggle to pinpoint a single subject. I have 4000 ideas in my head, none of which are fully formed and it can sometimes be overwhelming trying to stop the spinning to get something out there. I find it’s one of the biggest hurdles I have with my blog. I either sit down and get three articles written, or I spend my time staring into the abyss, wishing I could just do SOMETHING.

I think this might be called ADD – but the jury is still out, to be honest.

I’ve recently been thinking a lot about change. How, despite humans being inherently unwilling to change, it happens regardless and we either have to be along for the ride, or we’ll get drug through the mud.

Change is hard, but change is inevitable. Change takes us by surprise, but can also be a choice. I feel like 2019 is going to be a year of change for me. Or, you know, it may not be. Who even knows? Not me, that’s for sure. But, I can tell you that it has already surprised me with little changes here and there. Some of which I’m excited for, some of which I’m nervous about.

Regardless, I feel motivated going in to 2019 – I want to do better, be better, feel better. I want to be able to stick to a routine, I want to be able to set goals and achieve them. And in order to do that, I have to dedicate myself to change.

I feel like I have all the right protocols in place to enact change in my day to day life, in my habits, in my world; but sometimes it feels like it’s two steps forward and three steps back. I strive for a sense of control in an ever changing world, and in my chaotic life (that honestly is created by me), yet I struggle to keep it going.

I feel like this year is my year to make it happen. Maybe I’ll spend some time in a future post explaining how to make and accept change. Who knows, maybe it could really help people.

This whole post started with me doing something different than I normally do. Fitting, because change was my theme apparently, but I kind of like the idea of just writing out whatever I’m thinking. Perhaps I’ll make it a series. Fearless Babbles? Yeah, you know what, I kind of like that.

Until next time, Internet.

 

How The Artist Formerly Known As Dirk Strangely Helped Me Heal

As I walked into the crowded artist’s ally at DragonCon in Atlanta, GA, I was overwhelmed. It was my first con, ever, and it was the first time I had ever been given the privilege of covering a con quite like DragonCon. I was there as press for The Daily Quirk (now known as So Fetch Daily), but on this particular day I had nothing going on.

Armed with nothing but a love for art, my husband, and a limited amount of cash I walked in awestruck by the amazing talents that had gathered there. After walking aisles upon aisles, I came across a booth selling art that was Tim Burton-esque; dark and twisted, amazingly drawn, and full of characters reinvented in the eye of the artist.

The booth belonged to Dirk Strangely.

I stopped at his booth and was immediately drawn to his style, specifically his Strangely Cats and his Alice in Wonderland series. I think that year I vowed that I’d come back to every DragonCon just so I could see him and his art, and that was true until I moved 2200 miles away and could no longer make that trek.

That first year I bought a Cheshire cat painting that I truly cherish. Of all the characters in Alice in Wonderland, I was always drawn to the Cheshire cat, and I’m not sure what that says about me as a person, but I’m sure there are a couple psychoanalytical people out there who could tell me.

He told me at that first DragonCon, “Are we friends on Facebook yet? If not, you should add me, I post my art there all the time!” So I did what any creepy, newly acquired fan would do and I actually found him on Facebook. I haven’t regretted that decision, because since then I have supported his art the best I can given my own personal financial restrictions.

Art, in any form, heals the mind and soul. Whether that be music, painting, photography, dance, sculpture; and it doesn’t matter whether you’re the one producing the art, or receiving it, the curative power of a beautifully crafted artwork can speak volumes when words can’t be formed.

In 2016, I started down the path of a mental health journey I had never seen the likes of. My first stop on my highway to hell was the rock bottom of my mental health. If you’ve read my posts before, you know that my mental state took a tremendous nose dive that year, and I was in desperate need of strength, both mentally and emotionally. I needed to feel like I was still a person, that I still had that flame inside me, so I reached out to Dirk Strangely and inquired about a commission I’d love to have done.

I explained to him that my life, my mental health, needed a boost. I needed something that signified the fight I still had in me to defeat the demons that were slowly seeming to eat away at me.

He got to work, and A Girl & Her Dog was born.

In this image is me, standing tall and proud (modeled from a picture I took in college) with my German Shepherd Ronin beside me, on top of a mound of skulls, bones and remnants of demons. Those skulls and bones were meant to represent overcoming the battle with the evil that I was facing in my present day life.

To this day, I still glance at it and smile when I need a little extra strength. It’s a reminder that even in my darkest hours, I managed to conquer the parts of my mind that were trying to destroy me and I came out a bigger, better person. It sits in the kitchen, on the counter held up by the lighter I use to light my favorite candle – Juicy Watermelon from Yankee Candle.

Why is that information important? It’s probably not, but doesn’t it paint a vivid picture in your mind? No? Well, alright then…

The second commission I had done, To The Moon, came from a much happier place.

To The Moon’s concept was born from a therapy session. At the time I requested the commission, I was doing EMDR therapy, or Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. The goal of this therapy is to target traumatic events, then reprocessing and understanding them from the view of your present day self. It’s an amazing therapy used most commonly with those who struggle with PTSD, but it can be extremely beneficial for any trauma that causes discord in your day to day life.

In this therapy, we regularly do internal work with younger versions of my self, or parts, that hold the trauma. In this particular scenario, we imagined my younger self taking the trauma, putting it in a 2 liter bottle, strapping TNT to it, and blasting it into space where it’s then detonated and explodes.

The idea was to send all the anger, hurt, shame and disgust away and destroy it, because it wasn’t my own. The image that was painted in my brain when describing it was something so incredibly symbolic, that having it memorialized by an artist I admired seemed fitting.

I approached Dirk Strangely a second time, exposing my heart and soul, and he took that information and created To The Moon. The coolest part? The detonator glows in the dark.

When you look at To The Moon, you see two people holding hands; a man and a woman, which symbolizes my husband and myself. Together, we are standing, watching this younger version of me sit atop a hill and hitting the big, red detonate button to destroy the last of my anger and shame.

This rendition of a major turning point in my mental health still gets me a little choked up, in a good way of course. I feel like I’m lucky; not many people can say they have these beautifully drawn pieces of artwork that they can turn to for strength, hope and self compassion. Those are all traits that I occasionally have to remind myself to find, and I’m forever grateful that Dirk Strangely helped me bring those visions to life.

When I walked into the Artist’s Ally at DragonCon in 2014 and stumbled across Dirk Strangely’s booth, I don’t think I could have ever imagined the path I would have walked. His art is something I connect with, I resonate with. Not just my commissions, but as a whole. It’s quirky, twisted and bizarre, but is also created with so much passion.

It’s obvious he loves his work, and with each idea that comes to life on paper, I see that passion grow. His talents helped me heal through a time that healing wasn’t coming as readily as I’d hoped. His art gave me a visual representation of the person I wanted to be, and the strength I needed to forgive and begin to thrive.

Since these commissions were completed, Dirk started creating art under a new name, and I feel like I own a small piece of him. Wow, that sounds a bit creepier than I anticipated, but I’m sure you all follow. That chapter of his life may have come to a close, but it will never be forgotten, not by me.

So to you, it may just seem like two paintings hanging in my home. But to me? They are constant reminders of how the artist formerly known as Dirk Strangely helped me heal.

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.

Why My Husband & I Have Chosen To Be Childless

Let’s just cut to the chase: my husband and I don’t plan on having kids. That could change, but right now, we’re choosing to stay childless (excluding furchildren) for the foreseeable future.

There are a lot of factors that go into this decision, and I’ll get to those in a minute, but I want to spend the next paragraph or so delivering a very important message:

Nothing you say will change our minds.

Seriously. There is nothing you can say or do that will sway us to change our decision regarding children. We’ve had many, many discussions about this, and we’ve explored just about every single scenario out there. We, as a couple, always talked about having kids, but things change, and right now this is the best decision for us.

And, while no one who makes this same decision owe an explanation, I’m going to lay out just a few of the reasons my husband and I have decided to stay childless:

My Mental Health

I’ve heard this so many times when I put out my mental health as a reason: “Mental health didn’t stop me! I have anxiety and having a kid helped me overcome that because you have to!”

While there are MANY reasons that this could be true, and equally as untrue, I want to focus on why this is applicable to me. I have a plethera of mental health issues; emetophobia, anxiety, ADD, and OCD tendencies to be exact. I also have two dogs, both of which I love with all my heart, but I’d be lying if I said that they sometimes don’t overwhelm me. My dogs aren’t nearly as needy as a child will ever be, can sometimes break me mentally. And I know myself well enough that bringing a child into this world would be 10 times the stress and anxiety as a dog.

To put it plainly, my mental health is a major factor in my life and I know myself well enough to know having a kid won’t make it disappear. My mental heath is chronic, and the stress of a child would only exasperate it. I can’t take care of a child if I struggle to take care of myself some days, and I refuse to bring a child into the world if I’m not confident I can’t handle myself.

Money

Kids are expensive. No one will try to tell you otherwise, and in this day and age, the economy is bad. Even though my husband makes decent money, we still sometimes struggle from paycheck to paycheck. The cost of living is only increasing, while wages are staying stagnant. We just don’t have the extra money to consider bringing a child into this world and not being stressed from a financial stand point.

I know many people say it’s worth it, but you know what’s worth it to me? Being financially stable and knowing that I don’t have to worry about making sure my child is fed and properly taken care of. If I did have a kid, I’d never let that child suffer, but I’d rather be childless and financially okay, than have a child and have to stress about how to make our money stretch even further than it already doesn’t.

Freedom

This might be one of the more selfish reasons for deciding to not have kids, but we like our freedom. The idea that we can just go out and do whatever is a very appealing part to being child free. I know that in many cases parents can still do everything they want with a kid, but let’s be real: everything changes when you become a parent. And as I’ve gotten older, the idea of sacrificing my flexibility and freedom kind of makes me want to scream. I’d rather get older and realize I want a kid, and adopt, than bring one into this world too soon and possibly regret the decision.

Pregnancy & Childbirth

Guys? Pregnancy and childbirth sucks. I’ve talked to many women who sometimes throw on the rose colored glasses and tell me it’s worth it, but many women have told me how much being pregnant just flat out sucks. Then, labor and birthing is painful and overall just not a great experience. The more I learned about what happens during labor and pregnancy, the more I realized that pushing something the size of watermelon out of my nether regions while I writhe in excruciating pain isn’t really on my top 10 list of things I’d like to do in my life time.

We Just Don’t Want To

I feel like to want to have kids, you really need to be passionate about it. When my husband first got married, we really wanted kids, but my husband had always presented with this strange… I don’t want to call it aversion, but fear that we’d end up pregnant before we were ready. Ready is kind of a weird topic in parenting, because no one is truly ready, but when I say ready, I mean financially. I also mean stability wise, making sure we were in a stable home, that wasn’t going to result in us moving or being unable to provide for that child.

The older we got, the more we started to get settled in our routine, and the more those realizations of being stable and financially ready became a reality, the more we realized that it’s not so much that we couldn’t make it work, but rather we just didn’t want to. My husband and I are constantly asked when we’re going to have kids, and it’s always awkward. We throw out excuses: money, time, mental health, but there’s always a rebuttal from people. In reality, the biggest reason we’ve decided to remain childless is because we just don’t want to have kids right now. I’m just going to start telling people that and not really allowing the conversation to go further.

To be completely honest, it’s none of anyone’s business for why we aren’t having kids. While our reasons are less severe, sometimes not having children isn’t a choice; it’s medically necessary to keep someone alive and healthy. Or, maybe they have tried, but are unable to conceive.

So, before you tell me I’ll regret not having kids, maybe consider that I would regret having kids if I did just because society tells me that I can only be a “woman” if I procreate. My husband and I are happy without children, and it’ll stay that way until (or if) we change our minds.

Until next time, Internet.

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 support 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.

2019 is the New 2018

I’m going to let you in on a little secret: I’m writing this post in November of 2018. I know it seems insane to write an article laying out my hopes and dreams for 2019 in 2018, but you know what? It’s my story and I can do as a please.

Too sassy? I’ll try to tone it down.

When I got into 2018 I swore it was going to my year. I had this feeling that 2018 was going to be a good one, and even though, at the time of writing this, I have about 2 months before the end, I can safely to say I wasn’t totally wrong.

For starters, I’ve been injured, literally, for almost every month except one. I had a broken foot from December 2017 until February of 2018, rebroke it at the end of February 2018, and it didn’t heal and recover until June 2018. Then, in July 2018 I fell on my thumb and hurt it. At the time of writing, I’m still in a splint, the doctors don’t know what’s wrong, and I’m waiting for an MRI.

That’s probably the worst of my year, if I’m being honest. It’s been tough being injured and limited for so long. It’s been hard on my mental health, and for a while it really impacted my social life too. I wasn’t able to go out, explore, and fully experience my summer.

However, despite the injuries, I’ve had a pretty amazing time otherwise. I got to speak, for the first time ever, at my local Pride festival and at a National Coming Out Day. I was asked to be on the committee for Pride, and I met a ton of amazing new friends because of it. I’ve gone to political rallies, voted, marched for gun reform, and helped at STI testing events. I got to see Pentatonix in concert for the second time, I got a second dog, bought a house, did reno’s to that house, and lost a furbaby (which, ultimately was not a good thing, but it helped me to cherish the time I had with the people and pets in my life).

I’ve done a lot of self discovery this year, and I’ve taken the time to self reflect on many aspects of my life that I otherwise pushed aside (specifically #Fearless). Most predominantly, I’ve been exploring a possible ADD diagnosis, which would honestly explain 90% of my struggles in life. It’s opened the doors for me to explore what I always thought was inherently uncontrollable, and allowed me to take strides to cope in more productive ways.

As far as my photography business goes, I’ve gotten to do many exciting and fun shoots, as well as many photography based charity events. I’ve grown my business little by little, and I’m gearing up for my best year yet in 2019 for photography. My goal is to start focusing on weddings and boudoir, and I’m already working hard to make sure that happens. I want my photography business to be something that is sustainable, and I feel like I’m so close; I’m just hoping that 2019 is my year to do that.

So I guess this is a good transition for what I hope for in 2019.

I’m excited about the prospect of doing more; in all aspects of my life. More with my friends, more with my husband, more for my community, more for myself, and more with this site. I’m excited to explore more of the great state of Idaho, and journey out to new areas like Utah, Oregon, Washington, and California. I’m hoping that in 2019, I will continue to discover more about myself, and push beyond the limits I thought I knew.

I don’t know what 2019 will bring me quite yet, but what I do know is that from where I’m sitting in 2018, I’m hopeful.

Until next time, Internet.

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 support 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.

 

Oh, Hello Again

It’s been a while, hasn’t it. A long while.

 

Usually in these instances I’d write some long, drawn out apology and metaphorical explanation for why I haven’t been posting (and I definitely DIDN’T already do that once and delete it all), but this time I won’t bother.

The last time I posted was October 10, 2017 at 9:34 a.m. It was an article giving you all the information I had in my little brain about norovirus. But, even though the posts stopped going live, I didn’t stop writing.

The last post that I created, and never published, was January 19, 2018 at 10:26 a.m. The title?

2018: The Year of the Chelsie.

I started off that post with saying that this was going to be my year, I could feel it. The pantone color of the year is Ultra Violet, and it was already half way through the month of January and it just seemed like good things were coming my way.

I can’t tell you if that’s still the case, and to be honest, I’m doing my best to not think about that, but what I can tell you is that in these last 5 months I’ve been through a lot. Some good, some bad, but all working out just fine and all vital learning experiences that have given me room to grow and improve in various aspects of my life.

So, why did I write this? Why did I decide, after all this time, to break the silence? And why did I choose THIS post to make my grand entrance back into the world of writing?

Those are all very good questions, and I was hoping you knew the answer because I surely don’t.

I can’t promise I’ll write often, and I won’t even try to commit to a regular posting schedule, but what I can promise is that you may get another post after this one. So, get excited for at least one more post before I got missing for 8 months and write a weird, non-sequitur ramble post that doesn’t have any meaning, purpose or complexity.

So, until next time, internet.

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: Why I Stayed

By CMT
#Fearless Family Writer

I had a good portion of this written, and then I erased it all. After a period of dwelling and analyzing, I realized that I was writing down every horrible thing he did to me and found myself explaining my actions to possible readers. I was writing out of anger and I wanted to drudge up a “She-woman Man Hater” club. I wanted strangers to hate him. I was writing from a place of anger and re-living every negative detail made it feel like it was happening all over again. I’ve spent two years trying to heal and forgive him and I was slowly undoing my progress.

“Why did you stay? I tried to tell you, but you wouldn’t listen. Well, if it was me, I would have left before it started.”

Whenever I try to talk about my experience about being in an abusive relationship, those are the words that I hear the most. No one likes to be abused and no one stays for fun. I can’t speak for others’ experiences, I can only talk about my own. The more I reflect, I can see all of the red flags; it’s something that will stay with me for the rest of my life. Not as a mistake, but as a lesson.

Thanks to  him, I will never let anyone mistreat me. I will not accept anything less than what I deserve; I have found my voice and my backbone. Yes, to stay is a choice, I understand that and it was a choice that I made many times. I’m sure he did love me in his own way, but it was a convenient love, not a soul love. No matter how much love we have to offer someone, you can’t make them love you back. You can’t force them to give as much as they’re getting.

For anyone who is reading this and has gone through something similar, I want you to know that it is okay. Maybe it’s not okay right now, but it will be.

For five years I stayed in a mentally abusive relationship because I thought he loved me. Don’t get me wrong, it takes two to tango. I have my moments that I am not proud of, but I am no longer that young, naive girl. It started off really fast and not from the best circumstances and I allowed myself to go blind to what was happening around me. Any time I would sense something was wrong, I immediately brushed it off. By the time I was aware of what had happened, I felt like I was too far in to back out.

I thought “Maybe if I just love him harder, he’ll change. He’ll be motivated and just needs to be loved through this slump.” So, I did just that. I kept making excuses for his behavior because I thought I was helping him. I was desperate emotionally, financially, mentally, and I thought admitting the abuse to myself would somehow make the situation worse.

It didn’t though, it made me his puppet instead.

I didn’t know who I was anymore and at such a young age when most people are discovering who they are, I had no idea. Because of that, all he had to do was tug on the right string and I would end up doing exactly what he wanted and I thought it was what I wanted, too. I thought everything going wrong was my fault and that I wasn’t doing enough. It was a continuous cycle of abuse, depression, and isolation.

A while back, after I’d left him, I came across a quote that said “Don’t cling to a mistake just because you spent a long time making it.” That resonated so deeply within me because I realized that’s exactly what I had done. I thought that I would be throwing away all the hard work I’d put into our relationship. I asked myself what kind of person I would be to leave someone in such a manner who would have nowhere to go or a way to get there. I painted myself as the villain in my own life and I tumbled deeper into a black hole.

I stayed because I thought I was doing right by myself and that leaving would just be running away; I thought I was being responsible.

We always speculate how we would conduct ourselves if found in a certain situation, but honestly, we have no idea until we’re in the middle of it. Even then, we don’t know what we’re doing until it’s over and we begin to reflect. In the end, it doesn’t matter why I stayed, because I got out. I found myself dreaming about better days ahead, realizing that I didn’t want to live my life as a shell of a human anymore, and I was done being scared.

In my line of work, I always tell my clients “Sometimes figuring out what we don’t want leads us to what we do want.” I knew the life I was living was not what I wanted and dreams began to outweigh the fear. I was scared of being alone, but I was already alone. I was scared of being broke, but I was already broke- I knew I could actually break the cycle by living for one instead of two. I was scared of being isolated, but I was already there.

One day at work, someone sent me a picture with the words “Your value does not decrease based on someone’s inability to see your worth.” That gave me the smallest bit of courage I needed and one by one, I began to cut my strings. I couldn’t get it out of my head and it became a nagging in my mind.

With the love and support of my roommates at the time, I was finally able to break free. It was then in that moment that I saw his true colors. When I told him that I wanted to end it, I saw the fury in his eyes. He stopped loving me a long time ago and was angry that he was losing his free ride. I don’t remember anything that he said to me, but I remember the malice in his voice. That gave me all the confirmation I needed to know that I was doing the right thing for myself.

Since then, I had been asking myself how I would move on from the pain and forgive him. I didn’t want to forgive him because he deserved it, but I did. We don’t forgive others because they need it, but because we deserve peace. It’s cliche, but it’s true; if we don’t, then we can’t truly be happy. If you don’t learn to forgive those who have done you wrong, then you will carry that pain with you and it will manifest in every action.

Forgiveness is also not a one step proclamation; it may take days, weeks, months, or years. It’s something I’ve had to say to myself on a daily basis while enduring random times of crying. The tears would appear out of nowhere, but I had to let them out. I had to make myself feel the pain so it would go away. The longer we suppress our feelings, the longer they will fester. I would allow myself to cry, then I would dry my tears and move on. Whether I was at work, cleaning the house, or waking up from a nap. I refused to cut myself off from emotions any longer and eventually it started to get easier.

Up until a couple of weeks ago, I was still grieving. There’s no time limit on healing and just because you’re healing doesn’t mean you can’t move on. I have been shown true love and even that it isn’t glamorous like the books try to make us believe. I ended up getting a random message from him with an apology. I was so caught off guard that I started laughing and crying and had no idea what my emotions wanted to do. I decided that I wasn’t going to reply right away, though. I wanted to respond when I wasn’t being ruled by emotions; I needed a clear, grounded state of mind.

When I told a few friends and family about the message, they all scoffed at the action and some were even worried that I would go back to him. I was perplexed by their response, but brushed it off. I wasn’t going to let anyone affect my decisions again.

I replied with a simple sentence: “Apology accepted and I forgive you.”

We are often driven by anger in one form or another and it’s exhausting. To be controlled by anger meant that I was still being controlled by him and forgiving him was an act of taking that control back.

All of a sudden, I could breathe easy, and I smiled because I had finally let go.

Thank you to CMT for sharing this 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.