Monday, June 12, 2017

Pride Month and Self Care by Taylor Brooke



It’s June! It’s Pride! For a lot of us, it’s warm, finally, and it’s time to celebrate. My name is Taylor Brooke. I write Queer books for teens and adults, and I’m happy again. That’s a weird way to start this, I know, but it’s the only way I know how to. I try my best to take care of my mental health throughout the year – June is no different despite it being the start of summer and my upswing – and I try my best to navigate the excitement this month brings. But what happens when June turns into July, the Pride festivals come to an end and we move into our normal business-as-usual day to day routines?
Well, for starters, we stay proud.
I know it sounds like something that shouldn’t have to be said, but after an entire month filled with rainbow stacked books, Pride literary discussions at local libraries and Pride displays in windows at our favorite stores, watching the spotlight suddenly dim can be jarring. We need to remember that even after June ends, Pride doesn’t.
And for me, and anyone else who struggles with seasonal mood cycles, even when summer comes to a close, it’s important to remember that happiness is still available.
Here are some tips that I use to combat seasonal depression and after-Pride blues:
Recognize the change. It’s okay to welcome a shifting mood before it presents itself. It’s not the same for everyone, but I can feel myself coming down from an upswing and the recognition gives me time to slow it. I can ready myself for it if I accept it, and once I’m ready, I know that a lot of self-care and reflection will come next. Everyone has different coping mechanisms. Do what’s best for you.
What happens if you’re not ready, though? No one is exactly alike and everyone handles their mental health differently. If you aren’t ready, and a seasonal shift happens too quickly for you to grab onto or you’re feeling a little lost after Pride excitement dwindles, consider writing down the simple things that motivate your or make you happy. Self-care, rest and routine can help regulate a sudden shift in mood.
Stay active in your community – network with your Queer friends, plan readathons, re-watch your favorite shows, re-read your favorite book and discuss it with friends. Reach out to your online buddies and don’t hesitate to ask for help if you’re feeling down.
There are tons of self-care methods – cooking, bath bombs, books, yoga, tea, a new hobby, exercise – but there’s no exact formula that works for everyone. Pride is such a fun month. It’s brimming with everything we hope to see throughout the rest of the year, acceptance, positivity, progress, Queer book recommendations, festivals celebrating our community and everything in-between. The only way to keep the spirit of Pride alive is to take it with us.
Don’t be scared to get loud about Pride even after June ends. Yes, this month is our month to celebrate, but it isn’t the only time allotted to us. Celebrate yourself, your friends, the community, the authors and artists. Even though it can seem daunting, and even though a seasonal shift can bring storm clouds, we’ll still power through.

June isn’t your only time to speak. We still need your voice in July and August and September and the rest of the year. Mental health can be a tricky beast to manage and sometimes it feels like it’s unfair to speak out, to ask for help, to implement self-care, but it is 100% necessary. Pride is exciting, summer is lovely – it’s okay to take them with us into the next season. We should stay proud, we should stay warm and soft, and we should take care of ourselves and each other.
Pride is wonderful. Saying Happy Pride feels good for a lot of us. But remember to take care of yourself. We put a lot into one month out of the year and it can result in feeling a little lost after.  
Keep reading Queer books. Keep being proud. Keep lifting each other up in the community.
Be gentle with yourself this month and every other month – June is Pride month, but that doesn’t make your personal pride any less important during the rest of the year.