I was first introduced to the BuildALadder idea by Martina Stawski of EatYourKimchi, a great Youtube channel about life in Korea and Japan. Martina has EDS, an invisible illness that affects her daily.
(WARNING: The following videos are really sad, so if you’re not up for it, I recommend watching them another time.)
Her video confession helped me to write my own confession on Instagram and later here. It’s hard to do.
Mental health issues are invisible. And for those of us dealing with invisible issues, it’s hard to feel justified taking care of ourselves or asking for help.
This second video shows exactly how Martina gets through a really bad day by building rungs on her ladder. It’s a difficult video to watch, but it’s also really encouraging for people who are dealing with depression or pain.
Building a ladder means celebrating small victories. It means being positive when you’re in pain. It means knowing that you can make your life better, even if you don’t get better. It means not waiting to feel good to be happy or do what you want. I don’t have a chronic illness like Martina, but I have struggled my whole life with stress, anxiety, and depression, which have often led to serious health problems, and both in times of pain and in times of good health it’s important to build those ladders.
For me, I like to think of it like a literal ladder, visualizing each rung as I reach for it, grip it, and pull myself up. Each thing I accomplish or notice is a rung to help me up. Sometimes I slip, and I need a booster to get me going again. But I build another ladder.
That’s what the movement is about. It’s hugely important to me, and I love that so many people have embraced it. Check out the articles at the end for other people who have been helped by Martina’s movement.
How I Build My Ladder
- Note accomplishments; doing my daily habits another day, completing a project, asking for help.
- Find something beautiful; a flower, something I made, a good meal, a heartfelt laugh.
- Practice real self-care; invest in my mental health, keep boundaries, know what my body and mind are telling me.
Ladders So Far
- Got my hair dyed, and it ROCKS.
- Made a paper dragon mask, and it ROCKS.
- Started another dragon project because DRAGONS.
- Started blogging again.
- Started yoga.
- Meditation streak 100+ days.
- Wrote 10 new poems.
- Got health care.
- Scheduled my first doctor visit.
- Went to the library and went to town on books.
- Bought a yellow teapot for all my loose leaf tea.
- Organized my office/crafting room for full creative expression.
- Played with two cats at two friends’ houses.
- Did a ten-day detox.
- Played D&D.
Some of these were pretty easy, and some were very hard. There are still days where the thought of leaving the house or seeing people sends me into a downward spiral of anxiety and panic, but doing the little things, even if I do stay at home, helps build the ladder. As Martina said, it helps to shine the light outwards, not in. Don’t focus on the inward awfulness, focus on what’s around you and what you can do. Using my yellow teapot makes me happy because it’s a yellow teapot in my room.
Making paper masks makes me happy because I’m using my hands and creating something awesome.
Each rung, no matter how small, is a small step forward.
For those of you struggling, I hope this will help. I hope we will continue to build ladders.
Tags on Social Media:
Articles About the Movement: