A Heart To Get Better!

 

I was in the middle of preparing for the small group that I host a few weeks ago, when God gave me a major revelation as it pertains to moving from Just surviving to thriving with your mental health.

So often I find, in my practice and also in my own life, that we know exactly what to do to help our situation, but the real challenge is having the heart to do it. How many times have we said, I know I need to get the proper rest so that I can feel and be my best, but then continue to over-commit ourselves to things? How many times have we failed to properly take our medications, knowing exactly how they should be taken? How many times have we chosen to suffer in silence, knowing that we need to find someone to talk to? How many times have we failed to give time to exercise and eating well, knowing that our inability to move towards being healthy physically, also hinders us from being well mentally? How many times have we simply chosen not to, because we didn’t feel like it?

So why do we not do the things that we know we should do and how do we correct it? What God showed me, is that we fail to do the things we know we should do because we don’t have the heart to do it. It’s not a matter of we don’t know what to do, its more a matter of lack of motivation to do it! We continuously put things and others before our own self-care, failing to realize that we are only effective in helping others if we are operating from a full cup. We can’t give someone what we don’t have. As we pour out, committing ourselves to the responsibilities of life, we have to be very intentional about making sure that we are getting what we need to be filled back up. When you are dealing with a mental illness, having the heart to get well and stay well, should be a top priority. One that remains a top priority throughout the duration of life.

So today, I want to offer you some practical steps to help you make sure that you always have a heart to get well, and stay well. As usual,  i’m not saying that my way is the best way or only way, but I simply offer you what has worked for myself and many of my clients, dealing with mental illness.

  1. Rediscover a love for yourself. Sometimes it takes us doing some deep soul searching to point out things about ourselves that we love. Other times, it’s rather simple. I encourage you to spend some time doing exactly that. Find something to love about yourself and build from there. Once you discover something that you love about yourself, do whatever you have to do, to make sure that, that thing in your life is magnified. For example, if you love how giving you are towards others, your mission should be to make sure that you are always in a position to give, whether it is in your time or resources. You have to do all that you can to stay well, because if you don’t, you won’t be able to give to others, therefore creating one less thing to love about yourself.
  2. Surround yourself with people who will hold you accountable. Sometimes tough love is the best love. You need a few people in your life who will recognize when you do not have the heart to do what you know you need to do, and who will call you out on it. We don’t need a yes man… we need a no man who will  let us know that we need to make some changes and then stick by us as we work to do just that.
  3. Constantly Seek to Gain new Knowledge. I mean we all know that the world is ever growing. New knowledge is presenting itself every day and people like myself are committed to making sure that we are able to obtain that knowledge.  One way to ensure that we maintain our heart to do what we know is right and be well, is to commit to filling ourselves with new knowledge. No one way is ever the set in stone way to conquer our issues with our mental. What works for one person may not work for another and what works for a time period, may not work months later. We have to make sure that as new knowledge becomes available, we are aware of it and utilizing the things that may be beneficial to our personal battles with mental illness.

Today, My desire for you is that you will be able to maintain a heart to get better and stay better. Trust me, I understand that the struggle is definitely sometimes real, but the goal is to overcome every mental encounter. I believe in you. I know that you can and will move from just surviving to thriving and I’m rooting for you the entire way.

Exercise To Help Your Mental!

So in continuing this weekly journey of sharing with you all the things that help me survive my mental encounters, today I will give you all a little insight into my workout life. Like journaling, exercising has been something that has change the dynamics of my life. It allows me to release my creativity while also protecting my mental.

The energy released during exercise helps me to truly feel better and remain healthy. I won’t go into all of the benefits of working out in relation to health, as I have bored you all with that science previously. What I will say is that aside from all of the health benefits, working out has been a way for me to take out my frustration, calm my anxiousness and increase my quality of life. I don’t work out because I want to be healthy, I work out because being healthy is the best chance I have at defeating my mental illness.

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Consistently, I work out more often than most people in the United States.  While consistency is definitely key, when it comes to working out, progress or lack thereof can either hinder you or help you in your mental illness. I definitely recommend a workout life for anyone who is physically able to commit to one, but not without the understanding of the following things:

  1. Every day wont be a good day and today happens to be one of those not so good days. So what!!! I don’t always feel like working out, and while I have learned that those are the days that I should probably work out the most, the reality is that sometimes I don’t and well, that’s okay. You can’t beat yourself up over a bad day, and trust me there will be some bad days. Keep moving forward. Keep doing what you can and when you can’t, truly learn to be okay with that.
  2. Never push yourself farther than you can go. Know your limits and when you have reached them, don’t over do it. Soon you will find yourself reaching goals you never thought imaginable, both mentally and physically, until then, do what you can.
  3. Keep coming back, It works if you work it. While this may be familiar as a common saying used in AA or NA meetings, it’s equally true when it comes to working out. You may not feel better after one work out, but if you keep coming back you will most definitely begin to feel it working.

Many people work out too look good or because they need to or want to lose weight. Understand this, you don’t have to be trying to lose weight to work out. Working out can be done in a way that allows you to maintain weight. The reality is that we make up excuses for everything and there are always going to be excuses to not work out. Point is, don’t use them. Trust me, I understand that the struggle is definitely sometimes real, but the goal is to overcome every mental encounter. I’m rooting for you and I believe that working out is one way that you can begin to go from just surviving to thriving.

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Take Note!

I grew up with a desire to write. I’d write on whatever I could find. Paper, notepads, paper towels, tissue… anything that I could get a pen or pencil to work on, there I was writing on it. Little did I know that years later, writing, or journaling rather would become my main outlet. The number one way that I would release my thoughts and feelings as I journeyed through life taking on the challenges that it would bring.

As a mental health therapist, journaling is also an often used intervention strategy, as I have mentioned before as it not only allows my clients to release their thoughts and feelings concerning their circumstances, but It also allows me to be able to gain better understanding about the experiences of the ones who trust me to help them move from surviving to thriving.

Not only have I seen writing/journaling be effective in my own life, but I have seen my clients from page one of a journal to the last page of the journal, make remarkable strides and be able to go back and see the progress that has taken place in their lives, simply because they took the time to go through their process in writing.

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So why a whole blog post on journaling? I’m glad you asked. I was contemplating creative ways to help you all in your journey to becoming better, as I have become all too familiar with how boring life can be when you are so focused on getting better that you forget that change can be good and that different things open our eyes to new possibilities. In trying to find ways to be more creative in my attempt to help I kept hearing actions speak louder, so… over the next few weeks I will be sharing interventions that have not only helped my clients in their journey to better, but that have helped me also. Along with my normal Monday post, there will also be a midweek post that features an example of the intervention discussed in the Monday post.

I have learned over time, that it’s one thing to tell someone what to do to help them get better, but with different learning styles, sometimes people benefit from seeing things demonstrated. So in another attempt to help you by any means necessary, I will become very transparent over the next few weeks and invite you all into my personal world for a dose of my daily survival mechanisms.

So check back Wednesday for my midweek post for this first week, as I  take you into the life of my journaling experience. While the struggle is definitely sometimes real, the goal is to overcome every mental encounter… and in 2018, my goal is to help you do just that.

 

So I Creep!!

One of the things that I pride myself on as an Author/blogger, mental health professional and disciple of Jesus Christ is my devoted priority to living a transparent life so that others can know and see God’s work in and through my life.

In the same breath living a life with that level of transparency is not always the easiest thing to do. Especially with a diagnosis like anxiety, and having experienced battles with depression on multiple occasions. The very thing that I pride myself on doing, is the one thing that often makes my symptoms peak.

I learned a time ago that sometimes you have to be uncomfortable in order to make life a little better for others. It comes along with the territory of spending your life to serve others. While the benefits of living this type of lifestyle are priceless and the people you impact are totally worth it, there may come a time when you have to work extra hard to fight your personal feelings of insecurity and doubt. 

For me, prior to this blog, I would tell people all about my life, dysfunction, success and failures, often failing to mention that I have high functioning anxiety and that I had to fight like hell to overcome my depression. Not because those things weren’t impacting my life, but because mental health diagnosis are often seen as a sign of weakness and defeat, and I didn’t want to be seen as weak when my number one compliment from others was in regard to how strong of a woman I am.  

So there I was… creeping… keeping my diagnosis on the down low, hoping no one would ever know. 

The truth is… My anxiety was making me believe that if people knew they would leave me. It made me feel like I wasn’t good enough and the depression only co-signed on the rejection letter I had to look at in the mirror every day.

My anxiety had me feeling like no one could ever LOVE me. Like I was hard to love. It had me wanting to give up on seeking things that I desire, like a healthy relationship, lasting friendships and overall happiness.

I didn’t want to live like that. So one day, I woke up and decided to change!! I couldn’t change my diagnosis but I could change my response to it. 

I had to strap my seatbelt and get ready for the journey of a lifetime. One that just may last my entire lifetime and well, I’m finally okay with that reality. 

The truth is that, mental health diagnosis don’t just go away over night. You don’t just wake up one day and no longer have to deal with them. It takes a lot of hard work and commitment to overcome any diagnosis, and even with all the dedication in the world, some mental health diagnosis are not…  let’s say “fixable,” for a lack of a better word.

So I said all of that to say this… don’t be ashamed of your diagnosis. You have absolutely no reason to be. Your fight may be the very thing that encourages someone else to not give up. This world needs what you have to offer as a result of having to overcome and deal with something many people can’t even imagine. You are good enough. You are worth it. You are necessary and you do not have to creep!!! Be bold. Be loud. Be beautifully you!!!

Trust me. I get it. While the struggle is definitely sometimes real, the goal is to overcome every mental encounter!!

– Oddesty K. ❤

Daily Ways To Protect Your Mental!

If we are going to live in a world that encourages so much focus on self, we might as well learn to help ourselves navigate effectively in all aspects of life, right? The truth is that life has a way of knocking us all down at some point or another. There will be times when we feel great and times when well… not so much. I believe that Tauren Wells paints the perfect picture of what life is truly like in his hit song, Hills and Valleys. While doing so, he also paints a picture of what I believe is the perfect perspective to get through this thing called life. That perspective is that in life there will be ups and downs, and the same God that assists you in getting to the highs, is the same God who will comfort you through the lows.

Whether Christian or not,  I think there is something we can all get from the message of this song, and that is to trust and believe that you will overcome the “Hills and Valleys!” So, in case you are struggling to do that, here are some practical ways to protect your mental on a daily biases.

BELIEVE IN SOMETHING BIGGER THAN YOU:

If you live your life as though you have total control over everything that happens to you, chances are, you will probably experience life a bit tougher than those of us who have come to realize that this life is so much bigger than us. At the end of the day, what you believe or not believe is crucial to you protecting your mental.

In an article posted to the American Psychological Association, Azar (2010) explains how as human beings, we have a natural tendency to seek order and avoid chaos. We search for meaning in life, if at no other time, in times of confusion or uncertainty.  In doing so,  our cognitions allow us to see the world as an intentional design that was created on purpose for a purpose.  Azar goes on to note that neurological research supports the idea that our brains are wired to believe, and that common traditions associated with believing in something bigger than you, such as prayer and meditation have the power to change the wiring of the brain to assist in emotion regulation and attention.

The point is, if the only thing you have to hold on to is yourself, you will have a hard time protecting your mental. Believe in something bigger than you, because doing so will allow you to focus on something other than you, during times when you are falling apart.

 

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TAKE TIME FOR YOURSELF TO DO WHAT YOU LOVE:

For me, A person who has built her life around helping others, one of the hardest things for me to do was to spend time on myself when there were so many other people who needed me. It wasn’t until I got to a point of total exhaustion that I realized that I can’t be superwoman for everyone, all the time. So at my breaking point, tears and all, I began to look for ways to take time doing the things I love and doing them for me, so that I could ultimately be better for those around me.

If you want to protect your mental, you must take time for yourself.  Do what you love and what makes you happy, regardless of what that looks like to others; you must take time for you.

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EXERCISE:

In a world of wraps and get fit quick diets, the idea of exercise may seem a little less than appealing, however, one of the easiest ways to protect your mental is to establish a consistent workout life. In doing so, you give yourself a much needed boost in many aspects:

1.) Exercise enhances your  mood. Weir (2011) explains that research shows that exercise has both short-term and long term benefits when it comes to mental health. It has the capacity to enhance your mood after just 5mins of exercise and that it also helps to decrease the symptoms of long-term depression.  2.) Exercise helps to protect your physical health. In a nut shell, if you are physically healthy, you will have less stress and no added circumstances to increase the impact of any mental illnesses. 3.) Exercise helps to normalize sleep and increase serotonin.  Getting sleep is important to maintain good mental health because when you sleep your body and brain has the opportunity to restore and become fully functional for the next day. Serotonin is the neurotransmitter that anti-depressants target to help people overcome depression.

So basically, just like you have been told many times before, exercise is still one of the best ways to protect your mental.

COUNSELING:

Of course the Therapist would be the one to recommend counseling, but seriously. Even before my calling led me to this career path, Counseling was one of the best things I could have ever done for myself. To have an unbiased, skilled professional help you through the challenges of life is not only beneficial, but it is often necessary. At the end of the day, we all need somebody, and pretending that you don’t will only place you in a position to be defeated and living with your mental unprotected. Even if therapy is not something you are able to do on a weekly basis (although this is the recommended consistency), find a therapeutic group counseling session to join. A simple google search on support/counseling groups in your local area can help you to locate the one that is best for you. Protect your mental by seeking help.

While there are many other ways to protect your mental, these are my personal favorites and the ones I most commonly recommend to those who reach out to me for help. Life can be tough, but you can be proactive in protecting your mental.  While the struggle is definitely sometimes real… your reality can be Healthy, Whole and Highly Functioning. The goal is to overcome every Mental Encounter.

 

References

Azar, B. (2010). A reason to believe. American Psychological Association. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/monitor/2010/12/believe.aspx

Weir, K. (2011). The exercise effect. American Psychological Association. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/monitor/2011/12/exercise.aspx

 

NAMI: When Support meets Knowledge!

A week ago today, I had the opportunity to attend my first of what I expect to be many NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Health) meetings. When I walked into what was easily recognized as such a warm atmosphere, I was immediately greeted by people just like me. People who were somehow impacted my mental health diagnosis and who were there not only to offer support and knowledge, but to gain knowledge about the ever so present phenomenon of mental health and what it’s like to live with a mental health diagnosis.

What I expected to be an hour of hearing things I already knew as a mental health professional, quickly turned into one of the most beautiful learning experiences I have encountered to date. Not that there was anything extraordinary about this meeting, but simply because of the hearts that filled the room. People who were years into the world of dealing mental health illness, as well as ones who were newly introduced to what will be a lengthy journey, were there to show more than anything else, that they care about themselves and others who live life with a mental health illness.

What stood out the most to me in this meeting is that regardless of what issue someone presented, there was someone else there whom they could connect with for support and information. The level of unity filled my heart as the weight of despair exited my brain. I was reminded of why I entered the field of Mental Health to begin with and for me, that was a game changer.

Oprah Winfrey once said, “I believe there’s a calling for all of us. I know that every human being has value and purpose. The real work of our lives is to become aware, and awakened. To answer the call.” A week ago today, NAMI reminded me of my purpose and of the reasons why I decided to answer the call to help people just like myself who have been diagnosed with mental health illnesses.

I waited a week to write about my NAMI experience because I wanted to be able to fully process the level of motivation I was left with after attending the meeting. What I can say and am willing to stand by is that if you are diagnosed with a mental health illness, have a loved one who is, or if you simply have a heart to make a difference in the world, joining your local NAMI group will be very beneficial to your journey in life. I recommend it. I support it, and I will continue to be a part of it.

Dealing with mental health issues are hard. While the struggle is definitely sometimes real… your reality can be Healthy, Whole and Highly Functioning.  The goal is to overcome any Mental Encounter!