Written by: Sierra Breeden and Rachel Wurzburger
Meet Riley Paige, a mental health advocate, author, and model. She is 19 years old, was born and raised in Los Angeles, and is a signed model with Photogenics LA. Riley was diagnosed with depression at 10 years old and has been on an ongoing mental health journey her entire life. We interviewed Riley to learn more about her mental health battles, advice, and writing her new 365 Day mental health journal, Mindfulness & Me - and we’re here to say that she is incredibly insightful, kind, and strong.
“Riley Paige is a mental health advocate, a survivor of depression and anxiety, as well as the author of the new journal Mindfulness & Me. Riley was born and raised in Los Angeles, California, alongside her wonderful parents, amazing brother, and two crazy puppies who have all supported her throughout her journey. Riley spends her free time journaling, reading, hiking, shopping, and cheering on the LA Clippers. She has battled with mental illness most of her life, making her extremely passionate about spreading awareness and ending the stigma surrounding mental health. Although every day is not perfect, Riley has learned to not only manage but thrive despite the challenges she faces. She continues to work on herself every day through the power of journaling. If you want to reach out to Riley or learn more about her journey, you can check out her Instagram page @rileypaige.”
Riley’s mental health journey has been long and incredibly challenging. From a young age she has dealt with anxiety, depression, negative feelings, and has experienced anxiety attacks. What kept her going throughout this time was her incredibly supportive family, her dogs, and her extremely attentive doctors who spent ample time learning about her and the treatment that would best suit her.
From a young age, she understood the importance of taking care of her mental health, so its no surprise mindfulness continues to play a big role in her daily routine. She told us it’s important for her to be aware of her emotions and to let herself feel what she's feeling while also giving herself the space to be mindful of her struggle. She emphasizes that it's okay to take a break and comfort yourself. “You need to be mindful of your struggle and others' struggles,” she says. It's okay to stop and pause and then move forward to do what's best for you.
Riley spoke on the importance of journaling and why she thinks it is therapeutic to those who are struggling. She mentioned that her journal has helped her manage depression and anxiety and track her emotions better. “It's therapeutic to write down your feelings so you don't spiral out of control” she says. When journaling, she is able to let her emotions out and see her thoughts on paper so she can work through each one. She says Mindfulness & Me is a good way to track your progress and see your whole journey through 365 days.
On Creating Mindfulness & Me:
Two years ago, Riley was journaling in a mental health journal. As she worked through the journal, she realized that the questions were basic and lacked the depth she needed to see results. “You need to ask hard questions because you need to rewire your brain. You learn more about yourself and how you are feeling that way.” she told us. She closed the journal and searched for a new one that would resonate with her better. She searched for a journal that had more raw and meaningful questions that would help her learn how to break through the thoughts in her head. Her mom suggested that she create her own prompts, which she then used in her own journal that she's finally bringing to market. “Most journals are created by doctors, but Mindfulness & Me is created by someone who has really struggled with their mental health,” she says.
Riley described the process of creating her journal as difficult - with both happy and sad tears. She had many feelings of self-doubt and wondered why she was creating a journal for others when she was struggling with depression at the same time. Even with those negative feelings, Riley persisted on her mission to give young women an outlet. The journal was inspired by her goal of helping others through her first-hand knowledge and experience. She wanted to create a community of people so they know they aren't alone. Even if it were to only help one person - it’s worth it.
Riley worked closely with editors on creating th dad e cover, fixing errors and mistakes, and the color sensitivity of Mindfulness & Me. Riley made sure the book had no bright colors as cooler tones and colors are known to be more relaxing. She chose lavender for the theme of the book because it is extremely calming. Lavender is also Riley’s favorite plant, scent, and color. To her, it represents a calm aesthetic and incorporating this into her journal was very personal and a representation of her. She says flowers are always growing and flourishing - and while using the journal readers are also flourishing and becoming stronger versions of themselves.
The journal is incredibly personal to Riley and her experiences. She loves being able to share her story with the world in hopes that readers will find purpose through her journey. She includes her email in the journal so that girls can reach out to her if they need to talk to a friend or someone who understands their struggle.
Riley wrote a beautiful dedication to her mother in the book, as their relationship influenced the writing of Mindfulness & Me. Riley’s mom is her best friend, she says “there is no one like my mom”. Riley says she wouldn't be here without her mom and who has supported her through everything. Although her mother didn't know she would have a daughter with a mental illness, she was always there for the challenge. She took Riley to every appointment and helped her navigate her struggles. Riley described her mom to us as, “strong, made of steel, beautiful, and loving”. Her mother would do anything for her family and the dedication was a way for Riley to repay her for her support and show her undying gratitude.
On Advice & Mental Health
“Don’t let your depression win” - is the advice Riley would give to her ten-year-old self. There were many days when she wanted to quit but she kept pushing forward and was focused on getting better. She would tell herself “there is hope to get better and that this is not the end. You’re going through this to prepare yourself for the future– you will become more compassionate. You can handle hard things and you’re going through this to help other people.” She is thankful for her experience as it brought her to where she is now.
Riley’s favorite quote from her journal, Mindfulness & Me, is “Mistakes are proof that you’re trying”. Throughout her journey she's made mistakes, but she is always working to improve.
“You can be both a masterpiece and a work in progress at the same time”
Riley says you can see 2 sides of her. She's a strong, beautiful, and kind girl but she can also be depressed, anxious, sad, and fearful. “You just need to be you - it’s okay to be both.”
At the beginning of the book, Riley discusses her personal history and ongoing journey with mental health issues. Some of the best advice she’s been given when she was struggling was “Your story isn’t over yet”. Riley says she has always questioned why she was depressed. “Why me? What's wrong with me?”. The advice she was given reminded her that this is just a chapter in her book. She has had a lot of chapters that were difficult, but now feels like she's turning a new page. It’s taught her how to be happier, healthier, and to take things slowly. She wants her readers to remember that their struggle is not going to be forever. She has a tattoo of a semi-colon to symbolize that she paused and continued, rather than ending.
“Let your mental health help you flourish and don’t let it take over.”
Right now, Riley’s favorite quote is “talk to yourself like you're talking to someone you love”. She mentioned that it’s easy to be hard on herself, so she uses that quote to remind herself to talk nicely to herself and treat herself with respect, love, and compassion, as well as those around her.
Riley is still able to flourish and have happy days while living with depression and anxiety, and she wants her audience to know that they can get there as well. “Little goals can add up to big goals”. Suffering from insecurity and self-doubt doesn't need to hold you back. Buy Riley's new book HERE.
Riley’s Current Favorite Chella Products:Eyebrow Cream
Good Drama Mascara
Heated Lash Curler
La Vie Eyeshadow Palette
On the days she struggles with her mental health, Riley uses her Chella Brow Cream, Good Drama Mascara, and a little blush. Taking a few moments to use her go-to products makes her feel more prepared to take on the day!