An Interview with Writer Ashley C. Ford on Mental Health

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Ashley C. Ford is a writer based in Brooklyn. She has written for BuzzFeed, Elle, and The Guardian, and often shares her insight on mental health on Twitter. She has also written beautifully about her life on her 5 Things blog.

What inspired you to begin writing your 5 things posts?

When I started 5 Things, I was about to begin a new job and I was afraid I would lose my commitment to writing. In general, I’m pretty easily distracted, and wanted something I could come back to at least once a week that would demand my time, focus, and effort. 5 Things ended up being perfect for that. It brought me back to the page when I needed it most, and when I needed to take a break from it, I did. Now, I’m thinking it might be time to bring it back.

What skills do you use to manage your anxiety while working?

I drink a lot of tea (without caffeine), I talk through my anxiety with friends and loved ones, I take breaks from my work, and I try to live a healthy life. None of these things cures my anxiety, but they all help me cope enough that I can continue to be a productive person.

Did something or someone, such as a book, article, or specific author, inspire you to learn more about mental health care?

When I read Brene Brown’s book, The Gifts of Imperfection, I was struck by the revelation of how many ways I’d found to justify not taking care of myself. I’d seen therapists before, but I was guarded or didn’t know what my intentions were when I showed up and sat down. Brown’s book helped me figure out that I wasn’t even doing the minimum of what it would take to be actively working toward a life where my mental health issues didn’t have so much power over me. Again, not looking for a cure, just the right tools to improve my quality of life.

Do you find that your creative pursuits are therapeutic for you?

Absolutely. Writing, reading, interviewing, filming, cooking, and even painting. It all helps. I am more me, when I am being creative. I feel allowed to be more of me.

Do you have a favorite project that you’ve worked on/are working on that is related to mental health?

A column I wrote about cohabitating with my partner, and in particular, the post where I interviewed him about what it’s like to live with your partner who lives with mental health issues: Disrupting Domesticity: Mental Illness & Love as a Fact.

You can follow Ashley on Twitter @iSmashFizzle

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