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Meadowlark Monaghan    

Meadowlark Monaghan

HI MEADOW! HOW HAS QUARANTINE BEEN FOR YOU?

Today, I’m great! I’m so happy we’re back on The Local Optimist Hotline; it really makes my day to talk to our community. In case the readers don’t know, hi! I’m the voice behind many of our posts here on TLO and on our Hotline. I head all things TLO and mental health for Madhappy. 

That being said, that’s just today haha. Whenever people ask me how I am recently, my answer has been: “it’s any woman’s game”. Some days I feel like I’m crushing it, other days feel like this dystopian apocalypse of a year is crushing me. I’m trying to be gentle with myself and just take it one day at a time.

HOW DID YOU END UP WORKING AT THE LOCAL OPTIMIST AND MADHAPPY? WHERE DID YOU WORK BEFORE?

So before The Local Optimist and Madhappy, I was your average mental health worker. When I first discovered Madhappy, I was working at NAMI - the National Alliance on Mental Illness (the nation’s largest grassroots, nonprofit org supporting mental health) running various outreach programs like a hospital program, a public speaking program, our homeless clubhouse, our volunteers, our resource helpline, etc. I had exclusively worked in these mental health and social work type roles for the previous seven years, and really loved it. Mental health is my passion (as literally anyone who knows me can confirm I am obnoxiously ride or die about it). 

So, it was summer of 2019 and my friend Riley told me there was a new “cool kid brand that is all about mental health” that sounds right up my alley and that I should look into them. At the time, the blog only had two posts up so far. I love writing and always wanted to make mental health “cool” online so I shot my shot (that sounds weird past tense) in the Madhappy DMs and offered to write blog pieces for them from a mental health professional standpoint. To my delightful surprise, they responded! 

I wrote three pieces for us before we decided that it would be a great idea to bring someone on the Madhappy team that could act as our internal source for all things mental health and so our relationship was born! Now, I help out with all things The Local Optimist and mental health for Madhappy - including our Hotline.

WHAT DREW YOU TO WORKING IN THE MENTAL HEALTH WORLD AND WHY?

Because literally every person in my family had/has mental health issues and I never realized that wasn’t the norm for everyone until I was in college. 

I vividly remember sitting in my dorm room while people from my hall were all chatting about their life, their high school experience, and just trying to learn about where we all came from. I think we were specifically talking about siblings and I casually mentioned how I lost one brother to suicide when I was a freshman in high school. Immediately, the mood changed. I remember being so frustrated because I had clearly worked through the experience and was at peace with it. I wasn’t emotional bringing it up and felt that I could just share that experience to help them learn a bit about me. It was not met like that. It was met like I just poured a glass of cold water over the room. I immediately felt like I “fucked up” somehow or made things weird. 

Right then and there, I remember thinking, I want people to be able to talk about their life experiences without feeling like we just watched a Netflix original drama series. I was okay with talking about it, so why weren’t they? 

Over the next couple weeks, those friends came up to me one-on-one to share their own experiences with mental health. Each and every one of them had one, as we all do. It only further confirmed that I want to create a space, whether in my conversations or writing, where people feel empowered to share their stories of healing. From there, I’ve been trying to figure out how to do that each and every day. 

WHERE DO YOU FEEL MOST AT PEACE WITH YOUR MENTAL HEALTH (CAN BE A PHYSICAL OR METAPHORICAL PLACE)? WHAT WAS A POINT THAT YOU'VE FOUND YOURSELF HEALTHIEST MENTALLY?

I feel most at peace or healthiest when I am taking care of myself. It’s the days where I cross those things off my to do list. I did wake and meditate. I did take my antidepressant today. I did log off the computer at a normal hour. I did pay off this month’s portion of my student loan. It’s those small days that no one rewards or talks about that make me feel like I’m doing life right or that I’m on top of my mental health. 

It’s also the days I talk to my friends about how I’m feeling. I’m a classic ENFP and just a quick call with a friend can change my entire energy.

WHAT ROUTINES SERVE AS A GROUNDING FORCE IN YOUR LIFE?

My morning and evening routine! I’ve shared my morning routine on The Local Optimist before so I’ll spare the details, but continuously carving out an hour to myself every morning before responsibilities set in sets me up for success throughout the day. Also, every evening after my boyfriend gets home from work (at NAMI!) we go on neighborhood walks. It helps my brain calm down from the day, carves out a space for us to share our days with each other, and reframe our minds to slow down for the evening.

WHO INFLUENCED YOUR MENTAL HEALTH JOURNEY MOST STRONGLY?

My college boss and still dear friend, Gladys Koscak. 

During my sophomore and junior year at UCSB, I worked at our Counseling & Psychological Services in my first role in mental health. That experience was the most validating and impactful not only for my career, but for my personal development. Our cohort went through a lot. We even worked through the 2014 Isla Vista shooting together. The entire experience changed my life and brought me some of my most meaningful and cherished relationships to this day. 

Gladys (and my fellow peers!) shaped how I wanted to help others, how I wanted to prioritize myself, how I knew we could make real differences in the future generations experience of mental health. She is to this day, my most influential friend and mentor and I truly don’t know what my college years would have been without her.

WHAT IS THE BEST PIECE OF ADVICE YOU'VE BEEN GIVEN IN THE PAST YEAR?

It’s something my boyfriend said to me last year that I wrote down on the notes app on my phone and recently rediscovered… I found it serendipitously relevant today too. 

When we believe that the default setting of life is happiness and that everything should be as we expect it to be, and that doesn’t happen, we don’t meet the moment in the reality of that moment... we meet the moment in an idea of what we would like it to be.

Once we accept, that life is difficult sometimes, that those moments will happen; we let go of that resistance. It doesn’t mean it will be easy, but we’ll meet those situations with integrity, authenticity, honesty. Knowing how we relate to that moment will define our experience of that moment.

WHAT'S SOMETHING ABOUT MENTAL HEALTH YOU WISH MORE PEOPLE KNEW?

That it is so cool to care about your mental health. People that are trying to grow and work on themselves, become their best selves, process their trauma, work on their shadow, those are my people. It is the most badass thing in the world to care about yourself and others.

SPEED ROUND

FAVORITE QUARANTINE ACTIVITY?

Throwing a football on the beach with my boyfriend (it's my only athletic claim to fame)

FAVORITE RECENT BOOK OR PODCAST

Wake Up With Weslie podcast!

LAST MEAL YOU COOKED AT HOME?

A hearty yummy salad and brazilian cheese balls

ADMIT A GUILTY PLEASURE.

I hate that I’m admitting this on the internet… but Selling Sunset

LAST THING YOU SAID YES TO?

Helping my friend up her skincare game

LAST THING YOU SAID NO TO?

A group hangout at the beach - I’m still apprehensive about group settings and I’m honoring my levels of comfortability