Health

Why I Re-Entered Counseling

BY TAYLOR HAFNER The past few months (my last of college) have been about as hectic and anxiety-inducing as I anticipated. What I didn’t anticipate, however, is just how I…

God and Depression: In Church, I Was Told My Mental Illness Didn’t Exist

I occasionally re-share articles that I’ve written for other publications here on xo, Ayana. While my blog tone is relatively lighthearted, these articles are typically heavier reading — I love this happy corner of the Internet I’ve created, but I don’t ever want to ignore things close to my heart for the sake of branding. I felt led to share this article after reading about the tragic death of Andrew Stoecklein, a popular megachurch pastor in Chino, California who died by suicide at 30 years old. While I grieve for his family, especially his wife Kayla and three sons, I’ve also been enraged by the cruel things I’ve seen online. 

Pastors have said terrible things about this man’s eternal fate, about perceived spiritual weakness, about depression being impossible once you accept Jesus. Lies, lies, lies — and damaging lies that make it hard to trust church leadership. Additionally, some religious publications have published as much detail as possible about the incident, which goes against the recommendations for Reporting on Suicide.

No matter how far we’ve come, we still have work to do. 

A Short History Of A Long Relationship With Poor Body Image

TW: Discussion of disordered eating and weight issues. 

To say that I’ve hated my body my entire life is technically true, but it feels too vague. I’ve despised my stomach, made peace with my stretch marks and then gone to war again, picked apart my hair, my nose, my fingers, my cellulite — a darkly humorous moment came in seventh grade when I decided I had an unsightly mustache and covered my mouth with my hand when I talked. I did not know a life where I looked in the mirror without feeling bad, let alone good. I often smile through gritted teeth when taking pictures for body positivity. Such is life.

Why It’s Not A Bad Thing To Just Feel “Okay”

I told a friend recently that it’s a weird time to be online. To be honest, this statement feels evergreen — when is it not a strange time to live your life publicly on the Internet? But recently, there’s been a push to be authentic (something I’ve written about several times) without being too authentic. No one wants to make the people around them uncomfortable, right?

How To Be Authentic Online Without Damaging Your Brand

Posting online has become a time-consuming process for me. First, I take the picture. (If I’m being honest, I take several pictures. Sometimes 20 or 30.) Then, I have to find one that works, edit it in Lightroom, run it through FaceTune to get rid of any stray hairs, come up with a caption, find relevant hashtags, share it on Instagram, share it on Facebook and monitor the posts for any comments to respond to. 

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