How can I with power and authority lead others on a path to mental wellness when my own is in shambles? I can not. My lack of self-care and inattention to my own well being while using other peoples struggles to distract me from my own has lead me to see my actions for what they were, hypocrisy.
I can not in good faith ask others to do what I was unwilling to do myself. I could no longer extol the benefits of self-affirmations, exercise, mindfulness, rest, meditation, and, fearlessness when I was gripped by fear and self-doubt.
Fear had a hold. Fear gave me permission to do nothing, to use my circumstances as a reason for complacency, to shrink my responsibility to myself and to you. I retreated over and over again to the shadows where I was most comfortable, where I was “safe”. Every time I got close to a break through I backed away because under harsh lights my imperfections would be illuminated.
Everyone would know that I struggle. Everyday. I struggle with low self-esteem, an eating disorder, my parenting skills, trusting myself and others, failure, success, finances.
The world would see that the “Rock” was merely a collection of circumstances, experiences, lost battles and won wars that left me wounded but still standing.
And the question became, who do I think I am to stand before you, scarred and imperfect, to help you along your journey to wellness? And as I shake off my hypocrisy and allow my conviction to compel me to speak with my true voice and be my whole self, I answer, I am your reflection. I mirror your struggle, but more importantly, I mirror your victory.
The fact that I have been through, that I go through, and that I have come through gives me exactly what I need to help you do the same.
Let’s do this work because you are worthy of being holistically well!
Wanting to feel safe doesn’t mean you’re controlling
Wanting the clamor inside your head to be quiet does not make you crazy.
None of theses things are inherently negative. They are Human. You are Human. You have a right to feel however you feel. The goal is to become self aware. To use discernment so we are not victims of others or our own mismanaged emotions. Acknowledge them. Accept them. Deal with them. I can help.
I am the mother of three, including a set of twins, one of which has sickle cell. In honor of September’s sickle cell awareness month, we share our story.
The disorder runs on my father’s side of the family and I lost two older brothers from sickle cell complications. I learned that my youngest daughter had sickle cell from her newborn screen. After the initial shock and confusion (My ex husband and I were unaware that he carried the trait although we were aware that I had it) I did everything I could to become educated on the disease.
Sickle Cell is a blood disorder that causes the red blood cells to change from their normal pliable circular shape to a sickle shape. These cells are sticky and can become stuck in blood vessels, leading to numerous complications, one being severe pain in the area of the sickling.
There are different forms of Sickle Cell:
Hemoglobin SS Disease:
Hemoglobin SS disease is the most common type of sickle cell disease.
Hemoglobin SC Disease
Hemoglobin SC disease is the second most common type of sickle cell disease.
Hemoglobin SB+ (Beta) Thalassemia
Hemoglobin SB+ (beta) thalassemia affects beta globin gene production. Symptoms are not as severe.
Beta-zero thalassemia is the second type of beta thalassemia. It is associated with a poorer prognosis.
People who only inherit a mutated gene from only one parent are said to have sickle cell trait. They may have no symptoms or reduced symptoms. To learn more about the different types please click here.
My daughter has a combination of SC and Thallasemia. We had our first real experience with the disorder when my daughter spiked a fever of 103 degrees. Anything over 101 degrees is an automatic emergency room visit. This is because people with sickle cell have a compromised spleen and cannot effectively fight off bacterial infections. If left untreated it can be fatal. She was 7 months old. Luckily it was just a virus, but it took five days in the hospital to make sure. This began a series of emergency room visits and hospital stays due to fevers, thankfully all viral, but extremely stressful nonetheless.
She had her first pain crisis at the age of three, a couple of days before she started preschool and a few days after divorce fillings. Although not understanding exactly what was going on, I immediately focused all of my energy on doing everything within my power to make sure that my child was okay and well taken care. The differences her father and I had were irrelevant. Our daughters health superseded that and we behaved as such. After an emergency room visit, blood draws and an I.V. of morphine, we were released and began home-care. Here ensued a month of around the clock pain med distribution: codeine, then ibuprofen, every three hours, 24/7. Family members had to relieve me so I could go to work. But the hardest thing was seeing my child in pain and feeling helpless, hearing my child cry out every time she changed positions, watching her unable to walk as the pain was centered in her lower back, taking her to the doctor to see if she would need physical therapy in order to walk again, being strong for her. It broke my heart. And through the intense, non-stop blur, while somehow meeting the increased needs of my other two children; we made it through.
Things were quiet for a couple of years, a few flair ups here and there but all manageable at home. Then another pain crisis hit, a bad one, we were trying our best to manage at home when the the night before her 5th birthday we found ourselves in the emergency room: another 103 degree fever. I packed up my three girls and off we went. With the support of her sisters my little one endured another round of pokes while she had blood drawn and an I.V. inserted. We waited. My mother picked up my other two girls and we continued to wait. The blood cultures came back clean but she was still in pain. With instructions to keep doing what I was doing and to immediately return if anything changed, we were released around midnight. YAYAYAY she would not have to spend her entire birthday in the Hospital! We went home!
And we did our best to make it a good day! We went to Build A Bear, her and her twin got their ears pierced (BIG GIRLS) and there were moments when she laughed and smiled but I could tell that my baby was not feeling well. So we skipped the Cheese Cake Factory, grabbed food and went home.
But she was getting worse. Lethargic and pale she got home and immediately laid down. She complained that her stomach hurt. Concerned, I checked her tummy. It was hard and tender to the touch, I was pretty sure that her spleen was enlarged. In people with sickle cell, the spleen can become enlarged when cells become sickled and trapped inside the spleen causing it to get bigger and push on other organs causing pain. If left untreated it can burst and be fatal. This condition is called splenic sequestration. The best defense when dealing with sickle cell or any illness is to be as knowledgeable as possible. My awareness put me on high alert and I reacted immediately.
Back to the emergency room we went and she was admitted. I was right, her spleen had enlarged. Three days and a blood transfusion later, she was released. A blood transfusion is a routine procedure done for Sickle Cell patients to push out the sickling cells and replace them with normal cells. The transfusion in this case played two roles, it helped to push the sickling cells out of the spleen so that it could go back down and it replaced the sickling cells in her back to help ease her pain crisis. This was her first transfusion and I was apprehensive but it worked and I am Thankful. However, if her spleen enlarges again they will recommend removing it because the more often it enlarges the higher the risk of it erupting.
We left the hospital three days after her fifth birthday, a little disappointed in how things went but very grateful at how they turned out. It wasn’t the best birthday but it was definitely blessed.
For those of us taking care of someone with a chronic illness or perhaps dealing with one ourselves, it is of the utmost importance that we take care of ourselves physically and mentally. Care taking is the number one role susceptible to burnout.
During this time I never stopped and honored myself, I was constantly running on empty and after months and months and months of neglecting my own needs I hit a wall. I was depleted, there was just nothing left to give, to anyone. I knew I had to do something, so I implemented a few things. I began walking the hospital grounds when my child was admitted. Once she was comfortable and asleep I would notify the nurses’ station and go for a 30 minute walk. I talked to my therapist regularly. Having someone to talk to, an outlet, was indispensable. I also began dedicating one day a week to myself (as much as possible as a single mom of three children) where I didn’t go sit with my dad who has dementia, where I didn’t take too many calls, where I didn’t obligate myself to be available to others: I catered to me. This is an extremely important and often overlooked task of most caregivers: self-care.
In order to continue to pour into others we must regularly and consistently replenish our reservoir so we can continue to do good work. We are all worthy of being holistically well.
What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger: Dealing with stress in the family as a family.
Strong families are beneficial to not only themselves but to the communities in which they reside; they are the building blocks of society. Unfortunately even the strongest family can be shaken by stress. However, the stress itself is not so much the problem but how it is dealt with. The mismanagement of stress can lead to fissures in the foundation of the family system.
Effective communication is the best tool for a family to use to successfully navigate stressors, and often the most underutilized. People tend to deal with stress in silos. Opting to go it alone opposed to coming together to tackle it as a team; from the teen being bullied at school, to the father being burnt out from work, to the mom feeling unappreciated, to the sibling that feels left out. These individual issues will ultimately affect the entire family, often leading to misunderstandings, unmet needs, hurt feelings, resentment, and bitterness. In a household there is no such thing as “that persons” stress. Everyone in the house will be affected in one way or another.
So the solution is to communicate. But that is often much easier said than done. Communication between two people is difficult; communication among an entire family is a special challenge but not one that can’t be navigated successfully. Being able to listen for understanding opposed to responding is a skill that can be taught. Fundamentally people want to feel heard and understood.
As a Youth/Parent/Family coach my role is to help the parent(s) or guardian(s) think critically, foster effective communication within the family system, create and facilitate solutions to daily challenges, as well as how to thoughtfully manage larger stressors (divorce, sickness, marriage, job loss, death, etc.) all in an effort to build and maintain a family that is solid. The first step to becoming a stronger family unit is to identify, acknowledge, and address any areas of need.
I offer a workshop for parents to provide a dynamic atmosphere were we come together as a team to support and encourage one another as we become skilled in stress management. This workshop will teach about effective communication, establishing healthy boundaries, and creating self-care systems as a means of managing stress and maintaining healthy relationships within the family. Some role-play will be used to demonstrate effective listening and as a group we will brainstorm realistic self-care regimens that an entire family can benefit from and support.
The onus of responsibility when managing family stress falls squarely on the guardian. The first step is accepting that responsibility, the next is obtaining tools. Stress will never go away so we might as well learn how to deal with it and manage it. I can help.
On occasion I will share personal experiences in an effort to make of myself a mirror. To reflect back my struggles and my growth so that others don’t feel alone.
I help because I understand
I understand because I’ve been there
and I return there with the hopes of bringing someone else out with me…
It’s difficult being in the helping profession when you yourself are not on solid ground. I have experienced some trials and tribulations and as much as part of me wants to hold on to anger and bitterness, as much as I feel I have a right to these emotions; that they are some how righteous, I also know that clinging to them is hindering me. It is negatively effecting everything I do, from my business to my children, and it is time to shift. Oh it won’t be easy, but it is necessary.
Choosing to be ok when things are falling apart takes way more courage than we ever give or get credit for.
Fighting to change your narrative, smiling through your tears, turning screams of frustration into declarations. Those are the acts of soldiers and I’m battling right along side you.
I can’t effectively be As Solid As A Rock for others when I am crumbling. So today I rebuild.
Because I too am worthy of being holistically well!
You can’t pray away depression, or any mental illness. Some might find that statement offensive. But the reality is that many people, especially minorities, view therapy as an affront to God.
“I don’t need therapy, I just need to pray harder.”
Or maybe you can pray to be guided to a professional that can help you. Therapy is a tool to help achieve mental wellness, and should be seen as such. In my opinion, not utilizing the tools which can help us become more fully what we were created to be is much more of an affront. Prayer WITH WORK works. Seeking and going to counseling is doing the work, and you are worthy of it.
You are meant to be holistically well.
elusive yet desirable
but sacrifices must be made
to reach the Bliss point where all things sit on their perch just so
letting go of one to uplift the other
in the end there is a give and take
or in the wake of the tumultuous juggling will be broken things scattered at your feet
So I repeat
desirable but hard to maintain
one must refrain from doing too much or not Enough
rebuffed by the pressure to do all
to not let anything fall
by the wayside
Pride we must check
respect your limitations by celebrating all that you do in lieu of perfection
we honor intentions
make sure yours are pure
sacrifice all that you were
In order to become the person you must be
You are worthy of being holistically well
February 29. The day that happens only once every 4 years and on this day I find myself reflecting on these first two months of 2016, what I have accomplished, and have yet to do.
So as you reflect on your entry into 2016 be gentle with yourself but be honest. Take stock of these past months. Did you do everything you set out to do? If you did how did you mange to do so? If not, why not? What hindered you? What can you do to combat those obstacles? Two months down, ten more to go! How do you plan to live them?
January and February have been whirlwinds of randomness for me. I failed at intentionally going after my goals. I didn’t work out like i planned to. I didn’t track my calories. I neglected to update my website. My business social media platforms were woefully bare. Networking?? Fahget about it!
However despite all I didn’t do, I managed to live. I cried, I laughed, I screamed for both joy and because of pain, I watched TV, and just lazed around. And although I didn’t do all that I sought to I did something that I have not been able to do in a long time, appreciate the moments.
With that being said, its time to get back to business. I’m using this extra day to focus. To regroup. To better manage my time. Find BALANCE.
My pendulum tends to swing far right or far left, and I know I’m not the only one that operate in extremes. Let’s make the leap together to better manage our time and find the balance that will be a step toward holistic wellness.
It’s been a quiet month of January for me. It made me anxious that I had not posted. I felt compelled to force communication and every time I came here to post, it felt unauthentic, so I chose silence.
And in that silence I remained true to myself.
Often we do things not because we want to but because we feel we should. At times sacrificing to the point where we have nothing left, not even for ourselves.
Does this sound familiar? Giving from a place which others do not replenish, leaving it empty?
It is a wonderful thing to be caring. To want to help others, but not if it diminishes you.
That way lies bitterness.
Im not exempt from the lesson. It took me a while to get it. I have an innate need to help but in my quest for discernment I am learning the difference between helping and enabling.
I am now no longer willing to drown for others to float, and neither should you.
You are worthy of being holistically well.
I came across an article in the Huffington Post that I thought was important to share, 11 habits f people with concealed depression.
Feeling blue, a bit down, a little sad, in a funk; however you describe it, depression is real.
Depression is especially prevalent around the holiday season, and even more so, it is concealed.
In an effort to not be a “burden” or a “downer” people suppress their feelings, oping to put on a happy face as to not disturb the feel good vibes of those around them.
Having battled depression on and off since I was a child, I have become quite adept at hiding my “blues” choosing to mask them with busyness.
However, as I began to recognize the importance of my mental health and how it effects my ability to parent, I have begun to acknowledge my needs. I occasionally reach out to those I trust to handle my feelings with care.
Be mindful of those around you.
We often drop little clues in the hopes that the people we love will pick up on them without us having to hand over our bleeding heart and face the possibility of being rebuffed.
So take note, please.
Often times just acknowledging that you see something is “off” will be enough to lift a mood.
You have the potential to be a catalyst for positive change.
For those going through, you are not alone. Your “cure” can usually be found on the other side of your ability to be vulnerable.
You are worthy of being holistically well…