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!
We have a problem. A really big problem. A problem that is difficult to talk about but easy to minimize. A problem that is so insidious that some of us don’t even acknowledge that there is a problem. Or that some of us deem it “their problem”. Or we ridicule those who acknowledge, accept, and attempt to fix the problem. And the problem is just getting worse.
Mental Illness is real. It is not a sign of weakness. A lack of faith. A cry for attention. An issue that we can afford to keep defunding and expect everything to be OK.
The prevalence of mental illness is becoming more and more apparent as care is becoming more negligent. Ignoring mental illness doesn’t make it go away.
Recently I have seen more attention being given to mental illness as people begin to talk about it a bit more on social media, sharing their stories. And what I have gathered is that a stigma that has long kept people silent is being overshadowed by the deep pain people are feeling due to the crisis we have here in America. A crisis that I believe goes beyond just race, and gangs, and police but to the very root of our humanity.
Our humanity is bleeding. It is hurt and the pain has consequences. It leaves scars that often hide an infection that runs so deep that the fever is often left “unfelt” and untreated until it is too late to get it under control and in a rage, we burn.
We need help.
The scars must be opened.
The infection irradicated.
The wound aired out and allowed to heal.
It will be messy. It will hurt. It will stir up feelings and emotions long buried and ignored. It may cause us to dislike others as well as ourselves. It will be unpleasant and very uncomfortable. But it is necessary.
It is irresponsible to let this infection ravage our very humanity. We only have so many limbs we can afford to sacrifice while we refuse to get treatment for what ails us. Stubbornly disregarding the tale tale signs of the angry red welts on our arms indicating the infections relentless march in our veins, making its way to our heart.
Our humanity is crying out for acknowledgement. And dressing it up and plastering a smile on its face does not negate the suffering reflected in its sad eyes.
We must talk about it. Not we should. Not we could. But we MUST.
If we as a people are not mentally well than where does that leave us? It leaves us battered, bitter, bruised, and belligerent, and eventually; if unacknowledged, unaccepted and untreated long enough, at risk of losing our very humanity.
In addition to Sickle Cell Awareness, September is also Suicide Awareness Month and today is the beginning of Suicide Prevention Week.
Suicide is not a topic most want to discuss. It makes us uncomfortable. It brings up so many conflicting thoughts: anger, shame, blame, frustration, guilt, hurt, sadness just to name a few. All of those emotions are valid.
Suicide starts with a thought. Things would be easier if I wasn’t here. Whether we want to admit it or not, most if not all of us have had this thought, most of us shake it off and keep going. It’s a momentary frustration with life as we navigate our struggles.
Damn, if I just didn’t exist, if I killed myself now, I would not have to deal with all of this nonsense. *sigh* whatever, let me get back to…
But for some of us those thoughts, seeded in despair, begin to take root. They bury themselves within our psyche giving birth to fantasies of relief. Relief from pain, disappointment, loneliness, regret, turmoil, hopelessness. At some point the comfort at the thought of ceasing begins to outweigh our fear of letting go.
Often this projection is noticeable if we pay attention. The person who once complained, fussed, vented…stops. They begin to withdraw. They stop seeking help. The thoughts inside their head become louder than any flippant “words of advice”.
Be strong. So many people have it worse than you. You’re blessed. All you do is complain. I hear you, it’s even worse for me!
Giving in sounds much more doable than just “being strong” so they do. They let the ideations become a plan. And with the formulation of a plan comes relief.
This will be over soon. This is actually better, no one cares anyway. I can stop being a downer on everyone. Yeah this is the right choice. Everyone will be better off.
NO THEY WON’T
This is where we step in. Where we take time to truly see past our own frustrations and take notice, truly SEE those we love. Encouraging words. A smile. A hug. A touch. All are grounders reconnecting them to the fact that they are worthy, loved, needed, and wanted.
Those who are hurting often bleed through their eyes. The pain leaking out when they dare to look you in the face. Unfortunately most don’t see what’s right in front of them because our vision is often blurred by our own tinged tears.
It is possible to see past our own suffering and be a lifeline for one another.
Show them that they are 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.
Dancing through daffodils Smiling at the frog as it leaps to freedom Upturned face capturing the sweet breeze Swing set waiting in anticipation for little legs to set it flying Sprinklers chase them through the grass As peals of laughter waft up to the listening ears of perched birds Sun shining on closed lids As they wake up from a dream full of peace Only to open their eyes and realize it’s another day Another day of being sad And they wish they could go back to sleep again The escape of a child… ~Yulinda Rock
Caring for children is one of the most important tasks we have as adults. All around us is evidence of what happens when we don’t: Chaos.
May 5th is children’s mental health awareness day. We must understand that as the stewards of young lives our job goes way beyond just feeding and clothing them. It means being responsible for both their physical and mental well-being. With over 18 years of experience working with the mental health of young people (from a mentor at age 18, to case manager, to school counselor) I have seen first hand the devastating effects of what happens when a child’s mental health is neglected.
I posted this two days early to give us a little time to reflect on how we can be a catalyst for positive change in a young persons life. So on Thursday May 5, and hopefully everyday, take time to speak life into the world of a child. Your words mean more than you may ever know, so make them encouraging.
You are worthy of being holistically well, and so are our children.
Children feel sad. They feel frustrated. They feel angry. They feel happy. They are human so they feel. But sometimes they do not know how to deal with those feelings, how to manage those emotions. They might not actually know that something is wrong; they just know that something isn’t right.
May 5, 2016 is National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day. Children’s mental health problems are real, common and treatable. Unfortunately, although one in five children has a diagnosable mental health problem, very few receive the help they need.
Mental health is important to overall health. Mental health disorders are chronic health conditions (those that go on for a long time and often don’t go away completely) that can continue throughout the lifespan. Without early diagnosis and treatment, children with mental health disorders can have great difficulty. Untreated mental health problems can disrupt every facet of a child’s world, from home to school, from the playground to the larger outside community. They are at an increased risk of school failure, contact with the criminal justice system, and even suicide.
Mental health in childhood means learning healthy social skills and how to cope when there are problems. Mental health disorders among children are described as serious changes in the way children typically learn, behave, or handle their emotions, which cause distress and problems getting through the day.
Childhood mental health disorders do not discriminate. They affect every type of child and every type of family. Boys and girls of all ages, ethnic/racial backgrounds, socioeconomic status, and living all over the world, experience mental health disorders, no one is exempt. According to the World Health Organization, globally 50% of mental illness that occurs in a lifetime begins by age 14.
Children’s mental health is without a doubt the most important aspect of any child’s social and cognitive development. Parents and family members are usually the first to notice if a child has problems with emotions or behavior.
There are a variety of components that can impact a child’s mental health. When it comes to children’s mental health, as guardians the best thing to do is provide children with an environment full of love, understanding, healthy boundaries, compassion, and trust. However, even with the best of intentions, some things are out of one’s control. Some disorders are genetic and in those instances the best thing to do is to become educated in the disorder, utilize available resources, and access the necessary care. Then there are those special circumstances where a family adopts. The child may be a family member or they might not be, but whatever the child’s biological background, there may come a time when additional supports are needed in the home to help navigate the feelings and emotions that come up throughout the adoption journey.
Although it is a potentially difficult time, resources are available. With the help of a good practitioner, a willingness to work through the process and the knowledge that positive change is possible, your child or young adult can achieve mental wellness.
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…
I have chosen to offer both in home and in office therapy. I decided to do this so as to offer the most convenient experience for my clients. As someone who has dealt with depression as well as helped to navigate clients through it, I am well aware of the fact that some days just the thought of getting out of bed is taxing, let alone calling, scheduling, and making it to an office for an appointment. There may be days when brushing teeth feels like an accomplishment of huge proportions!
This doesn’t just apply to depression. Trying to get a defiant child (or spouse) to make it to an appointment can be a hassle.
All of the reasons why you may seek counseling can sometimes be the very things preventing you from getting the help you desire.
Because of this, if needed, I will come to you. It will be offered on Thursdays between the hours of 9 am-3 pm. In an effort to be a bridge to self-actualization, I will meet you where you are, literally…