#TherapyThursday| Purge

Welcome to Therapy Thursday everyone. Let’s get comfy.

As we enter into the last quarter of this year, I’m ready to do a LOT of introspecting. Are you ready to dig a little deeper? Look at what worked, what failed or fell short of expectations and why? Where you let yourself soar, where you let fear take the reins, where you dropped the ball?

I am.

I have so much from the last year (really, the last 3 years or so) to release. Even though September is such a triumphant month, being Recovery Month and all, and I’ve had some choice victories this 9 months, it’s been a roller-coaster 30 days.

Let me be so transparent with you, Saran wrap transparent:

I have struggled with clinical depression, anxiety, and seasonal affective disorder for 5-6 years, more like 10, really.

I am a survivor with invisible battle scars, who has chosen to bring those scars to light.

In the course of moving a week ago, I found a treasure trove of old drawings, sketches and paintings dating back to 2006. I didn’t have a medical term or label then, just some histrionic tendencies, and a whole lot of drama and brokenness. We had a running joke in my maternal family, that the more intellectual prowess you displayed, the more likely you were to be unstable emotionally.

Oh, boy, was I a hot mess!! and to see, just how far I’ve come… Here’s a glimpse into my mind, then:

 

Images from the darkest periods of my life, and this not even the half! (I should write a book, y’all.)

This is how I purge, how I clean house, how I divulge what was secret shame and rebirth in new light–creative outlets, and I encourage you to find what suits you. Thank you for allowing me to share. with you all. Truly God has brought me a long way. 😀

 

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#TherapyThursday | Forgiveness

This particular Mental Health Chat stirred up something at the core of many participants.

We discussed forgiveness and its tie-in to mental health. What a spirited discussion!!
Lines were drawn in the sand, beliefs and dogmas were challenged, folks agreed to disagree, and here we are.

Rather than my usual recap of those events (checkout the storify here), I elect to share what this chat churned up.:

  • Forgiveness is a part of the process of moving forward in life.
    Strongest lines drawn over this idea. I will stick to my guns about it:
    Had a traumatic event occurred in my life (and they sure have), I find it necessary and expedient to my own mental, emotional health to forgive the offender and release the transgression from my physical memory–or at least reshape what the event and its outcome represents to me. I don’t see the point in living my life as a victim of what happened to me.
    Several felt like forgiveness was not a part of the deal, that moving forward didn’t necessitate. which brings me to this:
  • Forgiveness is not emotional; it is a decision, one of the most difficult to make.
    AS such, forgiveness is in no ways WEAK. It takes incredible amount of mental fortitude to forgive.
    Also, because we are social animals, no one is above forgiveness. It must be at some pt or other extended to all of us. No one is beneath or beyond forgiveness either– even though there are degrees of transgression and personal injury and harm, anyone can be forgiven.
  • Forgiveness is a godly activity. It requires superhuman help to forgive the most abhorrent betrayal, crime, travesty, ignominous violation. I would never suggest abuse victims get in touch with their abusers and haul out for forgiveness.
  • You must begin with forgiving yourself. Another standstill about social conditioning, personal responsibility, and blame. For some, it’s easier to release the original offender than to release yourself from the knowledge and fact that you allowed the violation to take place. To some, I imply here that you are to blame for what happened–and I do not say so. You are not to blame for what happened to you. But you need to affirm that truth within yourself, for yourself.
    It’s a protective measure to forgive yourself for your perceived flaw or weakness, short-sightedness, or whatever else you internalize as the cause for why they targeted you. Picked you out, counted you out. Forgiving yourself affirms that you’re worthy of caring; you’re validating your own experiences, knowing that they play a part in making you who you are. Do you like the person you are now? Do you accept yourself without condition?

Perhaps what we really need here is an operable definition, because many seemed to think forgiveness as fulfillment of another person’s expectations, oppression, the delusion of religious pious nonsense and social elites.

Perhaps, their bone is not with the concept, but with the established institutions that are man made, therefore fallible. oye.

What forgiveness is NOT:

  • Dismissing the offender’s actions as insignificant or denying that you were offended/wronged:
    Part of forgiving someone is being willing to acknowledge that a transgression took place, and how that affected your physical, mental-emotional, spiritual well-being. To deny or to stuff your true feelings is to ignore the truth. And, the truth sets you free.
  • An opportunity to be re-victimized or re-traumatized by the offender:
    That is straight-up fear talking. False Evidence Appearing Real.
    You cannot center this process on who hurt you, because then your focus will not be on your own healing, growth and development, and personal agency. This whole process is about your agency!
    You can choose to submit to worry and fear, to relive trauma, or choose to have your thoughts, words, life centered on something more positive–true and effective liberation.Psalm 27:13
    I would have despaired had I not believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord In the land of the living. 
  • Vengeance, or conditional upon exacting retribution from the offender:
    Indeed, that defeats the purpose of offering forgiveness–vengeance connects you to the offense through anger, bitterness, festering pain, and possible self-destructive actions. You getting revenge or paying evil for evil will not erase the original offense or assuage your grief at being mistreated.
    It will, however, leave you open to attacks on your own conscience:
    If you originally perceived to have been violated on a certain level, what you value/care for/love being attacked and injured, are you not hypocritical for violating someone in turn? What does it say about your character that you would resort to causing that pain?
  • Synonymous with reconciliation:
    This misunderstanding often has tons of people up in arms.
    You can choose not to embrace your offender–in lots of cases, a clean break is essential to improving and maintaining your mental and emotional health. (esp. physical/emotional/ sexual abuse, grief/loss when the offender dies…)
    You do not have to stay in any communication with the person, because you do not owe them anything. You don’t even have to locate and speak directly to them in order to practice forgiveness. You could write a letter and burn it, or draw it out, or have an objective third party stand-in for the offender and say what you need to say.
    The decision to continue in relationship to the offender is entirely up to the injured party.

Forgiveness is a chance and opportunity to allow joy to return to your heart despite your circumstances. For Light to give you some revelation, to get objective insight and perspective about your life again. For doors to open because you have removed conscious and subconscious blockages that were rooted in pride, and your fear of being violated/rejected/mistreated.

Why allow pride and fear to steal any more from you??

 

 

Proverbs 19:11
A person’s wisdom yields patience; it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense.

 

 

 

#TherapyThursday | Anger

This week’s MHChat, we discussed anger, how to classify it, when it is hidden, how it manifests openly, impact of social ties, culture expectations and attachment styles, and how best to utilize or diffuse it.

Major Points:

“We all have experienced anger in self and others; increasing life pressures may add to sources of anger.”– @MHChat

  • Anger is a natural emotion, usually a response to a perceived threat, insult, injustice. We can create it when we aren’t able to manage our thoughts effectively in a situation.
  • This normal, healthy emotion often masks hurt, shame, and vulnerability.
    Anger = Sadness (grief) + Frustration (hopelessness)
  • Root causes of anger include disappointment, hurt, frustration, and other emotions concealed from stigma, perceived transgression, a boundary violation.
  • Experiences of anger can be wide-reaching and pervasive, used personally or politically.
  • Anger influences our thoughts, emotions and behavior: When angry, we compromise our rationale, judgment and critical thinking, and we center our thoughts on the offender.

“If the privileged anger/hate, the stigmatized suffer. If the stigmatized anger/hate, it becomes self-inflicted.”

  • Children’s anger is often silenced, seen as inappropriate and punished. Adults are pressured to make anger something productive so anger is often silenced.
  • Depression comes from suppressed anger. Manageable anger is healthy.
  • We learn to regulate our emotions within healthy attachments, nurturing, supportive, secure relationships.
  • Hidden anger seethes beneath the surface. It can manifest as a refusal to listen to someone or to cooperate, passive-aggression, manipulation, procrastinating and other self-destructive, asocial behavior.
  • Continually correcting others is a sign of hidden anger (a critical spirit).
  • Anger can fuel our greatest purposes, passions, and callings.
  • It may help to identify what other emotions you are experiencing besides anger, to access other vulnerable emotions.
  • Children need to see anger is best harnessed by patience, consideration of what motivated negative actions, and wisdom. –George A.
  • Bypass misunderstanding by communicating motivations and listening to others motivations.
  • Many consider anger inheritable genetic personality trait–they are relieved to find out it’s not inevitable.
  • If a belief about being weak/inept is activated, one may overcompensate by acting in a powerful, angry manner.
  • Society rarely acknowledges emotions in children or trauma in young people.
  • Channel anger into constructive energy.
  • We learn how to deal with anger over time, expect to become more patient, sympathetic to others.
  • As we learn to manage vulnerable feelings, and work through shame, and communciate we get better at dealing with what underlies anger.

#TherapyThursday| Going up from here

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Welcome to #TherapyThursday. This is a safe space, so get comfortable. Inhale, exhale.

Today I’m doing things a little differently.

I woke up this morning heavy hearted, weary and retraumatized re: Alton Sterling, Dylan Noble, Phillante Castile, India Kager…the list goes on and on…the films, the outrage, the mind numbing rage… The past 48 hours (really, 3+ years) have raised more questions than anything.

How can we pick up and continue life as we know it within hours of an onslaught of evil?

How can we protect our sacred spaces when the sanctity of our very lives are in question?

Who can bear up underneath this burden? being set as sheep to be slaughtered? How do we keep from developing cynicism and hardened, apathetic hearts? How do we rally and support one another tangibly, substantially, impactfully?

Where and to whom may we turn to trust to process continual trauma at the hands of law enforcement and the media?

How might we produce a grassroots network to call in family, friends, and established mental health support groups for us?

It is officially Minority Mental Health Month, and Jubilant July unofficially. As a proud Black woman, visual artist, an empath and a mental health advocate, I sincerely believe it’s my duty to help the black community in particular to safeguard their mental health. To comfort us in the wake of fierce brutality, to reach out and touch.

So this is more of a check-in than anything.

Hide yourselves for a little while, My people, until the indignation has passed.

Take time to self-care. Make sure you can still breathe. Engage on righteous terms today.

Gentle reminder:

I know it’s beyond tough to move out of bed today. *hugs*

Joy is our strength. Joy is not happiness; not conditional upon ideal circumstances, not temporal or subject to the temperament of a person.

Joy is intentional, rooted in the reality that this world we live in is not home, that Christ guarantees they can cut down our bodies but cannot kill our souls. Oh but they try. It is grounded by the fact that Almighty God is close to the broken hearted. He is father to the orphan, friend to the friendless, and our only hope.

Lord make Your presence known and manifest to us. Minister to us. You said blessed are the poor and needy in spirit, blessed are those who mourn for they will be comforted. Grace us with Your supernatural strength to go forward, grace us with Your peace that’s personal and surpasses understanding, and Your joy. Make it bubble over from within us and comfort and heal from the inside out. We trust You. Amen.

I will defy the odds and expectations by cradling and protecting my precious joy.

be well.

#TherapyThursday| Checking In

Welcome to TherapyThursday! I’d like you to get real comfortable. 🙂

How are you holding up?

Has your transition into this next quarter, this next season been smooth? Hit a few speed bumps? Downright rocky?

Do you ind yourself suspended in a state of meh?
What is motivating you right at this moment? Are you even remotely motivated, or unclear?

What could fortify or re-energize you? I’d like to explore some options with you.
First, some tips for riding the inevitable waves with relative ease:

  • Trust the ebbs and the flows, the crests and the troughs, as they carry you out with the tide. Trust the process of development.
  • Trust is a choice and an executive decision, not an emotion. To trust is to believe in something, having confidence in, relying upon, leaning on, and depending on something or someone. Without trust, you cannot love (anyone, including your own reverentially and wonderfully made self).
  • Love you demonstrate, not merely speak. Love is patient and kind, humble, meek, gentle, honest, gracious &merciful, honoring others above your own agenda & pending wants and needs, hopeful, persevering, unfailing (1 Corinthians 13:4-8). Love empowers you to go above and beyond your own self-centered complacency and expectations, like spiritual adrenaline. Love lifts when nothing else can help.

For dealing with divisions, resolving brokenness in relationships, faltering at forgiveness:

  • Trust God: He’s ever faithful even when you are not–when you drop the ball, ruin that project, miss that deadline, make that careless remark, disobey your parent. In any and all cases, you can trust His timing to bring you out, to cause resolution, and sometimes reconciliation.
  • Trust His wisdom, even and especially the instructions that look absurd to others.
    Godly wisdom is “first of all pure, then peace-loving, considerate, submissive [yields to authority, not rebellious], full of mercy and good fruit [love, joy, peace,  patience, gentleness (humility, kindness), goodness, faith, meekness, self-control],
      impartial [not judgmental, not showing favoritism] and sincere [legit].” James 3:17
    Whew, I could easily spend the rest of the session unpacking that!
    In short, it is wise to act in others’ best interests; to take the focus off yourself yields favorable outcomes.
  • The path of reconciliation is not linear. In fact, things can come full circle, but not at the pace or in the ways you may expect. It starts when you choose to forgive. It may end there. Forgiveness is a prerequisite, but reconciliation is optional.

  • Reconciliation takes a lot of courage and humility. There’s no room here for your ego; whether you’re ultimately at fault or not, take it upon yourself. Accept responsibility for the part you play, without judging the other person or condemning yourself.

I’m certain we all have a fair amount of spring cleaning to do, things that have worn out their usefulness, habits to overcome, baggage to relinquish.

Be kind and patient with yourself.

P.S: Happy Place Project 2.0 is launching SOON! (May 15th-21st) Registration opens May 2nd! 
P.S.S. I’ve got a suite of products coming at you to get you right and relaxed for summer, including a spring sale on prints! Stay tuned!

How are you doing, really? Check in with me, shoot me a message in the comments below. We’re in this together.

 

TuesdayTea| New Management

Good evening, creatives!! Welcome to #TuesdayTea. Pull up a chair and sip with us. 🙂

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It’s the start of Quarter 2! Time sure flies by. Are you prepared for new management?

 

This past week, I attended a training session, A Heart of Stewardship: managing your time, your talents, skills, and gifts, and your relationships. It is the month of the upgrade for a reason; in order for you to launch that new venture, take on that new responsibility, go after that better job, make a new product, you must do things differently.

We are blessed with countless opportunities, tools and resources; it is up to us to be wise in how we manage them.

How you make the best, most honorable use will determine just how far you are able to go into new territory. Think a bow and arrow: You must line the arrow up in the notch, and pull the bowstring back as far as possible in order to shoot the arrow long distance. With power!

Here are my takeaways, keys to the expedient upgrade:

  • The footprint of your life should reflect an outpouring of the time, talents, and treasures that God has entrusted you with as His child.
  • Our hearts’ disposition needs to be generous. We really should be delighted to serve others, even if they cannot repay us for any kind gesture we dole out (especially so), out of love for God’s people. We are blessed in proportion to our giving: Give and it will be given to you, a good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over. Luke 6:38

RELATIONSHIPS

  • Be careful and discerning about who you are connected to, who you allow to speak into your life. Your character is shaped and influenced by the company you keep: Don’t be fooled: Bad company ruins good character.  1 Corinthians 15:33
  • You can leverage the relationships you have formed for more than just business contacts and letters of reference. Build a good rapport with all kinds of people, including older people, people who are in a different field than you, who have a different worldview and think differently.  Join a mastermind group (shoutout to  #Takeover2016! shout out to Up Early group!) who will challenge you to stretch beyond your current borders, and nudge/press you out of your comfort zone.
    Focus on building community centered on passion and faith. You can have both.
  • Your support system ought to include mentors–they are determined by wisdom and experience, not necessarily age; someone who has been where you are headed or weathered your storm in this season of your life. You can have more than one mentor, for more than one aspect of your life: career, financial, spiritual, mental&emotional (therapy is cool, guys.)
  • Be wary of showing favoritism, though,  and always check their fruit. Bitter people cannot give level, sound advice when they are speaking from their place of hurt. Treat everyone with kindness and dignity. Invest some effort in the underdogs and the outcasts that noone else will speak to. James 2
  • Become an active, empathetic listener. Showing kindness and wisdom grants you favor in the eyes of God and men.

    Never let loyalty and kindness leave you! Tie them around your neck as a reminder. Write them deep within your heart.
    Then you will find favor with both God and people, and you will earn a good reputation.
    Proverbs 3:3-4

TALENTS

  • You have a gift even if you do not think so. To have a spiritual gift is to be endowed by God our Creator to do something exceptionally well. Every good and perfect gift comes from above, from the Father of Light, in whom there is no variance or shadow of turning.  [You can trust God; He is faithful]. James 1:17, side-note from me.
    Ask for your particular gift to be revealed to you; it most likely will unfold itself as you are serving people.
  • What HE gives us, He expects us to USE in the community, on our jobs, and  in the Kingdom, not bury our talents or write them off because they seem insignificant. They also may have NOTHING to do with your career, and that is okay. You may not be the star athlete, or a phenomenal singer, but perhaps you are an excellent administrator. You might not paint hyper-realistic paintings for a living or travel doing public speaking, but maybe you are an encourager. Again, ask God how He wants to use you; humbly make yourself available.

    My gift is showing mercy.

TIME

  • Every minute, there is a time for something. Wasting time is arrogant, disrespectful, and selfish, and says a lot about your character. (Ouch.)
  • Treasure every moment that you have! You cannot minister effectively or be productive if you do not respect your time.
  • Make the sacrifice to get up earlier! Snooze is the enemy. Do what it takes for your morning to feel good. Get up and push yourself!
  • You cannot save time; you can only invest it. In all your careful planning, still yield your day to God.
  • When you feel scattered, stop, and pray for focus, for clarity; get still. Then move forward, and manage where you are.
  • Every moment is a gift from God, for a purpose, and must be manged wisely. Get in order.
  • Enjoy your time, your life and your experiences. Build margins into your day.
  • Be flexible; be patient with yourself. Gentle reminder: Habits produce a lifestyle; in time, you become an expert; don’t get discouraged.

Being a good steward over your time gives you peace of mind, better health (no stressing out! time to heal), stronger relationships (you can prioritize people), and availability for service.

In summary: Be consistent; be diligent; be confident; be excellent.

 

 

TherapyThursday | Ambiguity, Ambivalence, and Ambition

Welcome to Therapy Thursday! I’m so glad you could join me in this safe place. You can stretch, grab some water, sip on some green tea.
Have a seat and get comfy, because we are going to dig deep today, into our intentions.

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Ambiguity (n.)–
a word or expression that can be understood in two or more possible ways :  an ambiguous word or expression; uncertainty

Ambivalence (n.) —
 1. simultaneous and contradictory attitudes or feelings (as attraction and repulsion) toward an object, person, or action
2. continual fluctuation (as between one thing and its opposite)b:  uncertainty as to which approach to follow

Ambition (n.) —
1.  a: an ardent desire for rank, fame, or power b:  desire to achieve a particular end
2:  the object of ambition <her ambition is to start her own business>
3:  a desire for activity or exertion <felt sick and had no ambition>
What do these three terms have in common, besides alliteration?
They describe mindsets, states of mental activity, flowing thoughts, maybe even hyperactive thoughts, and they directly relate one to another:

An ambivalent person will most likely express herself in an ambiguous fashion, which hinders her own ambition.

How?

Say I am at half-court, dribbling a basketball, preparing to shoot, intending on scoring 3 points. I cannot make any points if I aim at the other team’s basket, if I hesitate between taking the shot and holding onto the ball, or if I aim underneath the basket—inevitably, I come up short. The same holds true for following through on an idea, a plan, or a strategy:

If I am fluctuating between two opposite ideas, then I am lukewarm on the subject, which will show up in the ways that I communicate about it, and my drive to make things happen—or a lack thereof.

Words do hold creative potential; that’s why reciting Scriptures that affirm your worth, value and purpose works. That’s why repeating negative and faulty ideas such as, I’m a failure; I can’t ____, also works. You instill belief in an idea and express the strength and magnitude of your conviction by saying it out loud.

(This is also the process of renewing your mind, that you may prove the good, perfect and acceptable will of God, according to Romans 12:2; that you may discern truth from falsehood and error, that you will be able to maintain righteousness by obedience and faith in the Word that saves you.)

James 1: 5-8 NLT
If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do.

Do you find yourself constantly wavering between two opinions?
Consider carefully and nod your head if this sounds like you:
Yes, this is worthwhile; yes, I can do it; Yes, this will succeed and prosper in my hand–No, this isn’t a proper investment of my time, energy, faith, and resources; no, I cannot do this; no, this may fail, and I cannot bear the thought of failure.
(Nevermind that you are entertaining it at the very instant.)

I took some time to understand why we waffle around on essential, beautiful, novel, and expedient ideas. Why do creatives go back and forth between confidence in a product launch and gripping, terror-inducing worry and anxiety? Why do we cave into perfectionism and procrastination? Why don’t we always aim for the lofty, vertigo-inciting opportunities? Why don’t we get the things done?

We’re ambivalent in our thinking and our understanding. We pursue things that we halfway care about, stuff we “could” do, with a plan B and an itty-bitty committee-approved safety net of excuses, for when we don’t execute.
We deliver an ambiguous message, trying to be SuperWoman and Mr. Fantastic, tagging on title after title, role upon role…to sell everyone who will listen on all that we can do. We juggle way too many hats, because we won’t specialize, because we are ambivalent on standing out by being outstanding. At that. one. thing. We’re not clear on what we are doing, and neither is anybody else who reads our copy, hears our podcast, or looks at our presentation.
We then jeopardize our own success; we get lackluster results and back down, dim our lights, settle for a more dull “existence” instead of thriving. It’s a vicious cycle of poorly communicating to ourselves, and then to our our coworkers, supervisors, colleagues, classmates, family & friends, mentors, audiences, the world, and back to us.

This has been me.
This has been every black sheep who ever attempted to blend in to some generic bot role, and that backfired.
This has been everyone who has ever conceived something far greater than themselves.
This has been every underdog, every unconventional thinker, every person who ever dared think about going against the status quo, carving out a niche, doing what no one in their family, community, generation has done.
And if this has been you, then I encourage you, to let today be the very last day you were ambiguous or ambivalent about your life, wherever this resonates.

Acquire some executive, decisive language, and make some executive decisions.

Let your Yes be Yes, and your No, be No. Anything other than this comes from the evil one. Matthew 5:37

How are you doing? Have you been ambivalent, ambiguous, or just ambitious? Tweet using #TherapyThursday and let me know! 

#TherapyThursday | Smile

It’s Therapy Therapy! Come on in, and settle in the plushy cushioned couch. (You can lay on the leather chaise if you want, but I’m all for the fluffy and comfy. 😀 )

Let’s stretch. Reach your arms up, up, up towards the stars. Wriggle your fingers! Inhale deeply; shake it out!
Now, slowly, move your arms down to your sides. Breathe in deep. Alright, now, let’s get to the inner work.

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I don’t know about you, but this has been a particularly heavy week.
Tuesday I found out about MarShawn McCarrell taking his own life.

“My demons won today. I’m sorry.”

I cried for the entire day, inconsolably.

I did not have the pleasure to have met this young man in person (thank God for social media) but as I watched so many others pour out their condolences, and their shared memories, and their grief, and his activism, I could acutely feel loss. Overwhelm. Pressure. Void. Such a stellar person touched so many.

“My demons won today. I’m sorry.”
Those words will continue to haunt me, and my heart breaks. Advocating for black lives and working in social justice is tough–and I KNOW that’s a ridiculous understatement.
I’ve only been here 23 years. I do not know of a time more pressing to raise support and awareness around trauma, mental health,  and wellness in our communities and movements, than right now. In the wake of Anthony, Sandra, MarShawn and countless, beautiful souls senselessly taken.

I cannot fathom that today may be the day you just want to quit.
That the well of anguish is simply too deep, and I have nothing to draw with.
That you’ve been hiding in the shadows with a plastic smile and an empty, aching heart.
That you don’t think you have any more tears left in you. That the spotlight burns and you want to launch off the pedestal. That you’re beyond tired.

This I know; this little light I have for you.

J O Y.

joy of the lord 2

In that Scripture, Nehemiah was teaching the people, Today is set apart for the Lord’s purposes (consecrating, calling sacred and holy).

Then Nehemiah the governor, Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all of the people, “This day is holy to the Lord your God. Don’t mourn or weep.” They said this[d] because all the people wept when they heard the words of the Instruction.
10 “Go, eat rich food, and drink something sweet,” he said to them, “and send portions of this to any who have nothing ready! This day is holy to our Lord. Don’t be sad, because the joy from the Lord is your strength!”
11 The Levites also calmed all of the people, saying, “Be quiet, for this day is holy. Don’t be sad!” 12 Then all of the people went to eat and to drink, to send portions, and to have a great celebration, because they understood what had been said to them.

I say to you reading this, that TODAY is set aside for ALMIGHTY GOD’S purposes.
Not our agenda, not our work schedule, not our events and projects.
You are not reading this by chance.
This is a day to celebrate, to exchange mourning for praise, to rejoice at making it through hardships and at the baby steps, to simply set back and be amazed at Almighty Creator’s work in your life!

Yes, even at this moment, you are being kept in the palm of His hand; He is not afar off, but near to all who call on Him sincerely, and close to the brokenhearted, and the outcast, and the rejects, and the discouraged. Lift up your head and acknowledge Him, because even in the silence, He is present.

I want you to focus on joy. Today, calmly focus…on joy. Smile.

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“Smile” sung by  Janelle Monae

Smile, though your heart is aching,
smile,
Even though it’s breaking
When there are clouds, in the sky, you’ll get by
If you smile, through all fear and sorrow
Smile and maybe tomorrow
You’ll find the sun come shining through for you
Light up your face, with gladness
Hide every trace of sadness
Although a tear maybe ever so near
Cause that’s the time you must keep on trying
Smile, what’s the use of crying
You’ll find that life is still worth while
If you, you just smile.
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Listen to the silence and the stirring in your heart.
Embrace the silence and soak in the beauty of the pause.
Cry, if you must. Release what’s been weighing on your shoulders and your heart.
Get free.
Then, go find a mirror. Look yourself in the eye, and smile.
image
Hey there! I’m smiling right back atcha! 😀

 

The Happy Place Project

I have had an idea stewing in the works now for a couple of weeks, and I just cannot hold it in any longer. 😀

I have spent the better part of January 2016 devising a few projects, some goodies that will help scattered, stressed and strained creatives put all that nervous energy into positive use.

Some relax by knitting. Others sip wine and watch old movies; other people party, or fill out puzzle books, or enjoy a Steven Universe marathon on Hulu.

I feel most at ease and like myself when I am making something: a bracelet, a doodle on a napkin, a painting, a colorful design…and I feel least relaxed when I lose track of my trains of thought and I am spinning 7 plates while I clean my room and cook dinner and have 20 different tabs open on my laptop as I edit a blog post and almost forget to twist my hair..

You get the idea. Multitasking is a pain and a lie. Plus, it’s hard to pursue excellence, righteousness, and peace when you’re flailing about, busy Martha.

What am I getting at here?

You. Need.  Focused. Breaks.

I’m talking about times and activities set aside for you to  have a moment of peace, a sprinkle of joy, a pause to breathe in some fresh air and express gratitude. Time to retreat into your (portable) happy place.
Oh, and a device to systematically help you discover your happy place as you go!

I’ve dubbed it, the Happy Place project. (tu meke, amiright? :D)

On social media I conducted a little survey to find out which of the creative therapeutic products that I had in mind would be most beneficial to you, my readers:
The majority of you all would like to see a coloring book, followed closely by meditation prompt, mental mapping journal, and visual exercise.

I am developing each of those items for your viewing doing pleasure, and making some adjustments to the #TherapyThursday posts–all just for you!

Taking care of your mental and emotional well-being, keeping your joy, and maintaining your peace on a daily basis are all so essential to you staying the lovable vessel of positive energy that you are!
Not taking care of your mind, body and spirit, burning yourself out means getting sick, being irritable, and not performing at your best.
SO, let’s do this together! Sign up today.

HAPPY PLACE

TherapyThursday| MHChat Recap

Join Mental Health Chat on Twitter, Wednesdays 8 pm UTC/3 pm EST! Here’s a brief recap of this week’s discussion. Note: I have edited names to protect participants.
Trigger Warning: This post is centered on experiences of and advocacy toward self-harm. Please proceed with caution, and empathy. 

MHChat Summary

Welcome to Therapy Thursday!  In collaboration with Mental Health Chat, an open access mental health community online, each week I shall participate in a mental health conversation with psychiatrists, psychologists, patients, and mental health advocates, and give you all a summary. I hope you will also tune in!

Self-harm is such a sensitive subject. What a mind-blowing discussion.

We talked about possible causes for people to resort to self-harm, its impact on relationships,  alternate coping mechanisms, support, surrounding stigmas and how to eliminate them to allow more healthy dialogue.

People were so forthcoming with their views and experiences, giving reassurance and showing compassion on such a misrepresented mental illness.

Points to consider:

  • SH is employed as a coping mechanism to manage emotional pain in a number of different ways, including condemning outbursts (verbally beating self up), marking oneself, cutting, biting, ripping out hair, eating disorders, overexercising–but also smoking.
    S: Self-harm is a complex area which begs for complex considerations in terms of understanding, research, treatment and support.
    M: A person uses self-harm when under duress and in need to feel tangible control, and release.
    Q: Adrenaline can ease pain or anxiety for a moment. Busy busy busy can be self-harming also.
    T: Self-harm can be physical as in cutting or emotional as in withdrawing/becoming angry in response to suppressed feelings.
  • It’s often physical, because some find that focusing on physical pain is easier to handle, and the results are tangible. SH provides a release. Other forms are more mental strains:
    P: Harsh self-criticism is also self-harming, though not always recognized as such.
    MHChat Moderator: There are many reasons for and many forms of self-harm, and self harm can significantly increase likelihood of death by suicide.
  • Someone practicing self-harm needs to be listened to, because they are indeed communicating. That message could be the SOS friends and family are looking for:
    M: I want out, I’m in pain deeper than you see me inflict on myself.
    D: YES! It says, I’m experiencing so much & I need to control something, I NEED to feel something!
    M: Is it fair to say, instead of stoicism or acute numbness, “I feel everything and it’s overwhelming”?
    S: SH is a spectrum, a means of reflecting an aspect of your self, of saying something to those who observe [you behavior].MHCMod: SelfHarm makes the invisible visible and it is a way of telling the untellable and an effort to cope and go on with living.
  • Anyone can be in a state of high emotional stress or traumatized; anyone can find themselves engaging in self-harm to deal with that stress.

    HS: Anyone who is marginalized and feels hopeless about the possibility of connecting in a meaningful way with others [is more at risk].

  • The most vulnerable groups in society are more prone to self-harm: This may include children from broken homes or abusive/negligent, adverse backgrounds,  unemployed young adults, adults with learning disabilities, low-income, isolated groups, veterans, people with PTSD…
    JH: Quite often it is family and community who cause the problem. E.g: Child abuse is massively underreported and traumatic.
    J: Mass self-harm in religious festivals is certainly encouraged…Ideology, theology or culture has played and does play a role in human beings harming themselves.
  • Self-harm, as with other mental illnesses, is often not approached with empathy or respect. Instead, people may label the person as extreme, histrionic, crazy, or melodramatic.  Mental health professionals as well as family and friends must take care not to shame the individual practicing self-harm, or be dismissive, treating the situation as simply attention seeking–or as rehearsal for suicide.
  • Self-harm relates to a person’s self-narrative and sense of identity:
    D: When you self-harm, yo get to control what you feel, how much you feel, and when you feel it.
    J: I’m taking charge of my story; [while] in darkness, wanting to seem less   helpless? Also, I’m angry at being made to feel helpless!
    P: I understand from personal experience of years of self-harm in the past.
    T: No, you have the right to be angry, sad, and say your opinions.
  • The experience of self-harm impacts not only the individual experiencing it, but also their families, loved ones, and significant others: They may recoil in shock, feel helpless and fearful for that person’s welfare, or express frustration with the individual for not directly expressing their emotions. Unfortunately, receiving negative responses may reinforce using self-harm as a coping mechanism.
    E: Being an SH-er can feel incredibly isolating, because so may people don’t understand it and don’t want to see it.
    V: Why is it that self-injury is swept under the rug when topics like suicide and addiction are now talked about?
    P: Perhaps because others don’t know how to react and deal with it– too terrible to talk about it or contemplate.
    S: [Within the family or group there’s] constant tension between coping for the person and potential worry about what it means for others
  • Self-harm behaviors are addicting processes. Even when the person desires to stop it can be difficult. As with other addictions, the behavior itself is a symptom pointing to underlying, deep rooted issues. Also, self-harming persons can go through withdrawal, or relapse after stressful periods. They may need to gradually stop self-harm through safer alternatives, like popping bands, taking a cold shower, or redirect themselves to self-nurture. (EP)
  • There’s definitely social stigmas attached to self-harm, within the mental health field, in education, and in our communities at large.
    CM: Many in the profession still see these behaviors very lightly, due to stigma and a real lack of understanding of how to treat…so the area becomes frustrating and professionals “give up.”
    H: Austerity has caused huge increase in suicide and self-harm. It targets the most vulnerable groups and needs to be stopped.
    A: While services may say they are aware that self-harm is an important issue, individuals still struggle to access the right support.
    G: Teacher training on mental health is very poor: it focuses solely on what the conditions are but not first aid.
    S: Medication and CBT on “the quiet” is not a solution. we need to focus on well-being EVERYWHERE!
    P: Media needs to begin accurate and informative reporting, not sensationalizing and making out self-harmers to be a danger to others.

How do we raise greater awareness of self-harm and its meaning and its significance? How do we garner support for individuals who self-harm and their community?
1. Empathize: More than anything, self-harmers need to be treated with dignity and kindness instead of being discounted. Listen receptively to people who have lived the experience. Don’t fail to see the person and pain behind that injury!

2. Support: Remember that it really does take a village:  For a parent or caretaker of a young self-harmer, it can be difficult to be objective. Families and loved ones really need their own support systems and resources, such as rehabilitation efforts and group therapy approaches (think Al-Anon). Tangible support is VITAL.
G: If it is the parent that is self harming, parents need to know how to explain to their kids that it is not their fault.
The entire family needs to get wholeness. Group dynamics play a HUGE part in recovery, or regression.

3. Educate: Debunk the myths, mysteries and stigmas through open dialogues. Reducing the fear reduces the stigma.
Watch and share films like “Ida’s Diary” or “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close”.

4. Provide alternatives: Help self-harmers learn healthy ways to express and deal with painful emotions. Teach them self-compassion.

Be the safety net you wish for others to land in.
Resource: Children: childline.org.uk/Explore/SelfHarm

If you are in the U.S. and are feeling low and need to talk to someone, please contact the Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK. If you are in the U.K. and feeling low and need to talk to someone, please contact Samaritans at 0116123.

What coping methods do you use to deal with emotional distress? Want to celebrate your recovery ? Share your strategies with me!
You, too, can be an advocate for mental health! Join Mental Health Chat on Twitter, Wednesdays 3 pm EST!