Facts and Opinions

Mental Health Awareness Month

May! I welcome you with open arms! I know this post is a few days late, but it’s alright! It’s the thought that counts, right? In May, nature is blooming; there’s a certain type of rebirth taking place in the atmosphere. The weather’s warmth becomes more consistent. Kids are beginning to wrap up the end of the semester and prepare for summer. People are attending proms and graduations…it’s a beautiful transition from the old to the new. May is the month of renewal; a surge of energy that is needed to inspire and motivate the Earth to continue to create. Like many, we too require the motivation and inspiration in life to keep going, but sometimes, we have roadblocks.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. May has been a month to educate others on the importance of mental health, help people better their mental health, and celebrate the little victories that come with every step in the journey ahead. Slowly but surely, the curse is lifting, and the stigma is breaking. Mental health should not be something that’s seen as taboo. We all have brains (even if some people don’t seem to use theirs efficiently), and the brain like any other organ can be injured. It’s time to stop being afraid on speaking up about how we feel.

By dictionary definition, mental health is quite simple. It’s a certain level of psychological well being; the state of someone who is functioning at a satisfactory level of emotional and behavioral adjustments. Mental health can affect and influence the ability to enjoy life. Picture your ideal vacation spot. It’s right there; just a few steps forward and you’ll be there. But suddenly, this clear glass box falls around you, keeping you from moving anywhere. To me, that’s how I feel when my mental health isn’t A1. I can envision my happiness, but something is blocking it.

There are so many things that can cause mental health issues; the cause can be quite complex. From genetics, biological factors, past trauma, drug usage, or just the environment that you’re in…it can all have an effect on the brain.

Of course….*deep breath*…..MENTAL HEALTH IS NOT JUST A ONE RACE ISSUE! Every race struggles with it, however, there are races that are more hesitant to explore it and heal the wounds that are left. That is one of the reasons why black mental health is something that is so important to me, because even though we are making more and more of an effort, we can still do so much more. Our mental health matters more than we think it does. Mental health is not a white issue; if you have a brain you can suffer from mental health. It’s time to stop sweeping our health under the rug, I cannot stress that enough.

Everyone deserves to feel good. People deserve to love themselves. People deserve to give themselves a good life. Throughout the month of May, I will be talking a little bit more about my mental health, as well as other issues that effect the black mental health community that need to be addressed.

Peace and blessings

xoxo

 

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Self Care Saturday

My Guide to Journaling

Hello everyone! So this is my first post on Self Care Saturday! Woooo! Self Care Saturday is pretty self explanatory…I give you different ways of self care on every Saturday of the month (or at least a Saturday of the month).

Today, I’m taking you into one of my favorite self care past time…journaling! Oh how I love journaling. There is nothing more therapeutic than writing in my opinion. I actually have three of them that I carry everywhere. Each one serves a different purpose.

  • My yellow journal is for my day to day entries. I always date the page and write about what happened that day. I like to do this after I take my bath or shower and change into a clean pair of pajamas (or an overlarge t-shirt). I naturally have an overactive imagination, so when I am starting to get bored of my surroundings, I pull out my journal and write how I feel.
  • My pink journal is for my dreams, goals, prayers, and manifestations. When I’m feeling low, I like to open up this bad boy and envision myself in a more positive situation. I like to write out little scenarios that I hope will happen. For instance, I wrote one about strolling through the Louvre in France wearing a flowy white dress with my curls in full bloom like flowers in spring. Man I was really in my feelings that day, I tell you. It just let’s your mind run free to a happy place.
  • My black journal is for my short stories and poems. They don’t have to be a full fledged sonnet; sometimes they’re just little quips and ideas. When something pops into my head, I quickly jot it down. I can’t draw to save my life, but some of them have drawings and doodles on the pages, as well as little songs that I may create.

Now having three journals might be a little excessive, but for me it helps organize my thoughts. But when it’s your journal, you can do whatever you want with it. It can be as messy and cluttered as you want. It’s for you and your thoughts. I would say, when journaling…

  • Sometimes choosing the journal is important. This is something that you’re going to be writing in, have it be enticing. You should want to write in it. I bought my journals at Walmart, but they are so cute. They are Pen + Gear Five Subject Notebooks. I love that they have little tabs to divide different sections of the journal.
  • Write every day. Every day. Even if it’s just one sentence. I am sad. I am happy. Thank you God. Shoot, it can be one word if you want to. Just make sure you write something.
  • It’s okay to restart. I have journals that haven’t been finished. Sometimes the things in that journal don’t give off the energy that you expect. It’s okay to switch journals and start anew!
  • Be in tune with your feelings and emotions. Don’t hold back.

That concludes the first Self Care Saturday post! Hopefully, you find a journal and fill its pages with stories, hopes, and well wishes.

Happy journaling!!!!

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Journaling

Manifestation…

This whole week has been stressful, but as a college student, what do you really expect? You’ve got homework to turn in, projects to create, course work to study, and extracurricular activities to partake in. Life…life is never set in stone. You might think you have a plan, but life has something else completely different in store, shifting your what could’ve been easy going week into a smorgasbord of chaos and confusion.

This week was one of those weeks. Of course I had the usual school work and homework assigned to me, but I had events to help assemble, work to attend, as well as just going through the psychological roller-coaster that is my emotions. I needed a break. I needed a small period of time in order to rejuvenate and come back to center.

I have just recently gotten into doing this earlier in the year. I’ve found that not only does it calm me down, but it gives me something to hope for in the future. I like to write down what I want to happen in my life down the road; my manifestations. Manifestations are events, actions, or objects that clearly show or embody something, especially a theory or abstract idea. In my case, I manifest by action. I express my dreams, goals, and aspirations through my writing. I love to write. As a child, if I was frustrated and had trouble getting my point across, I would pull out a notebook and pencil and scribble to my hearts content. It has followed me into my adulthood.

Writing isn’t the only way to bring your hopes into fruition. Some people like to verbally say them aloud. Others may enjoy meditating on their affirmations; whatever is more comfortable and more powerful for you. When I write them down, I am able to go back and re-read what I wrote and what I wanted to happen. When the manifestation actually comes true, reading over it makes it that much better! With writing, I remain focused and can actually map out a concrete way of how I would love my life to go. Since organization is something I struggle with at times, writing gives me the sense order that I need in my life (one of my manifestations is becoming more organized).

Today, I wrote out some bullet points of what I wanted to happen throughout my livelihood. Every day, I write these out. Some are persistent, while others may be written down because of something I want to happen within a smaller span of time. For instance, one of my life long goals is to win a Pulitzer one day. That is probably going to be one that I’m going to write down for a while, right? But the manifestation about the pimple I want gone off my cheek? Maybe I’ll only write that down for a few days.

Writing them down, saying them, or meditating on them every day might be tedious at first to some, but it becomes routine after awhile. If you really don’t feel like doing daily manifestations, do them at the beginning of each month! I also like to do that too. I ordered a new planner for the 2018-2019 year, and inside of it there’s a section to jot down notes. I wrote down what I want to see during the month of October. I wanted to be happy. I wanted to be healthy. I wanted to stay focused and remain stress free. There were a few others, but some of those are pretty personal. I felt excited to see what the rest of the month could bring!

If you believe that it can happen, and you want it to happen, do what you can to make it possible. Of course, you have to put in some effort. Manifesting only does so much. You have to actually work towards your goals too. Manifesting is only one part of the equation. It keeps you focused on what you want to accomplish. Manifestations have really made me hopeful for my life. I know I have the ability to have a bright future. If I envision what I want to happen and work towards the goal, whose to say I can’t achieve it!?

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Journaling

Self Care Isn’t Just Pedicures and Bath Bombs

Disclaimer: these are my opinions, as well as my own personal experiences

Self care is an art form. Being able to find something that can make you forget about the worries that you were stressing about can be a major release and relief on someone’s mental, spiritual, and even physical self. Everyone goes through something, no matter how trivial and no matter how ridiculous.

Life interrupts people in many different ways, and most times we don’t have the time to prepare for them. During this week, almost all of my homework assignments deleted itself due to a malfunction that occurred on my computer. I had three projects due at 11:59 that night. As I searched through the countless files on my Dell, I began to cry. Actually no, it didn’t start off as crying. It began as laughter. I was laughing at the fact this would have to happen the day everything had to be due. Then, the laughter turned hysterical, as if someone had told me one of the funniest jokes that I had ever heard. Tears began to stream down my face as they rolled in between my computer keys. The laughs became muffled, and then they turned into sobs. All of my hard work was lost. It’s okay to cry; crying is self care by itself. But, at some point, you’re gonna have to wipe away your tears and move forward.

I ended up missing my classes, sitting down on my couch, and redoing all my homework to the best of my ability. For hours I typed. My fingers ached and my eyes began to fall, but eventually…I got my work done. On top of that, I had work to go to, and then a meeting right after that. I was a mess dragging myself back into my apartment. I threw my bags down and nearly sunk to the floor from the exhaustion that I felt. I needed to recharge. I needed to refuel. I ran a shower at around 8:30 pm, sat my phone down on the bathroom sink as it played Mama’s Gun, and sang to my hearts content. The walls were thin, so I’m pretty sure the people next to me could hear me tell the bag lady to pack lightly. After that, I read a chapter from a book I had bought the semester prior at a book store in town. I meditated, and then pulled out my notebook to manifest how I wanted the rest of the week to go. I needed that time to wind down and gather myself together. That helped me, but for that time being.

Various ways on how to indulge in self care:

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.goodtherapy.org/blog/134-activities-to-add-to-your-self-care-plan/amp/

Meditation, yoga, cooking…all those things can be essential to your self care routine, but that’s not all self care is. Self care can be bubble baths with rose petals in the water or getting your nails painted or even just taking a nap, but this will only get you so far. Not to go into great detail, but my second semester my freshman year was probably one of the hardest times of my life. I’m not talking about slight fatigue or exhaustion…I didn’t know if I wanted to live anymore. It’s still touchy to talk about, so I’ll leave it at that, but just know that during that time, how I was coping was not the way I should have. Watching Netflix wasn’t going to save me from wanting to take my life (no matter how good the first season of Stranger Things was). I understand missing a day of class to calm yourself, but I would miss weeks! When the pain gets to be too much, buying yourself some Chick-fil-A isn’t going to just make all the trauma and suffering magically disappear. If it did, I’d be wolfing down waffle fries as we speak. You need to differentiate when self care is appropriate, and when self help needs to take the reigns.

Healing comes in many professional forms if you can afford them (a topic that I will discuss at a later date). There are mental health counselors, psychologists, social workers and so on and so forth. If need be, psychiatrists; they’re equipped to prescribe medication for more serious cases. If I had pinpointed my change in behavior and had actually gotten some help earlier on, I might have been able to avoid the turmoil that came afterwards, or at least deal with it better. There are things that I will never be able to forget, but there will always be a way to heal somehow.

I ended up going to therapy over the summer. I am not going to lie, I did not want to do it…at all! Thinking about it, it’s somewhat hypocritical. I want others to get the help they need and deserve, but I didn’t want it for myself. I was scared. I was scared of being told that there might actually be something wrong with me. It’s intimidating at first. It took me some getting used to. The counselors even told me that I engaged in a lot of self care, but that my actual healing process seemed to be lackluster. I didn’t put in any importance or effort on the progress I wanted to make in the long run, I kept relying on temporary fixes to numb me.

Every day, I would sit down and listen to people share their stories. I’d sit back and think about why I’m here and would ask myself if this was necessary. I would go through the CBT and DBT exercises and worksheets while reciting positive affirmation mantras. I would engage in conversation when the physicians wanted to go into one on one sessions. It seemed extraneous, but as each morning came, I grew to realize what the purpose of this was and why I needed to be here.

Am I fully healed? No. Will I ever stop partaking in the act of self care? Absolutely not. It’s become a vital part of me not dropping out of college. With what I have learned, I know that it’s okay to take some time and do something special for yourself, but you’re doing a real disservice if you ignore what’s really bothering you. Everyone deserves to heal.

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Journaling, Uncategorized

Junior Year….

Warning: Slightly triggering, and incredibly long

In the middle of the road a few houses, my Dad hits the breaks with a vengeance, jolting him and everyone else in the car with him forward.

“Now you have to not only be truthful with me, but with yourself.” He had noticed me in his rear view mirror. I was holding my jaw, staring into the pattern of the passenger’s seat silently crying; but these tears were powerful. They came out of nowhere, like when you witness the first kiss at a wedding. They are unexpected, but significant. These tears had meaning. These tears represented fear. They represented embarrassment. They represented past mistakes I wish I hadn’t made. They represented many a struggle. But, I assured him that it was because of my butchered hair cut that I had no idea what to do with. It looked absolutely atrocious. I smoothed out the bandana on my head that would be my constant companion for the months to come and sat back calmly as the car was put back in drive and we headed on our way.

A few days prior I had a great decision to make: venture back to school and face my fears or stay at home and ponder what to do during the Fall semester. I am not going to lie to anyone: college is not easy. At all! Nowhere close to being that way. There’s a lot of stress, and pain, and confusion, and all those other things. Don’t get me started on the weight gain. Dominos was my best friend my second semester my freshman year, and so on. I was “this” close to owning a six pack I kid you not, but I became too reliable on my friend, and I sport a nice pouch instead. Anyways, (I go on tangents regularly) college is interesting to say the least. The things that I expected to happen in college did happen, you know? Making friends? Check. Losing some of them…..check. Parties? Probably more than I should have gone to. Heartbreaks? I don’t want to talk about it. Overall however, besides those setbacks, everything would be pretty okay. I would overcome these challenges and laugh at them as I stare each one in the face. Well, it was like that…up until my second semester my freshman year.

I had recently completed my first semester. My grades were fairly good. I had met new people and I was enjoying myself immensely. From the beginning of the second semester on, my whole life just changed. It wasn’t for the better; it was far from it. Now, I won’t say for the worst either. It just changed. Bare with me. I know things are getting a little lengthy.

It started with a party. I went to one like most college students do. I knew the workload was going to kick my ass later on in the year, one party wouldn’t hurt. I don’t want to get into detail, but I was the victim in a non consensual sexual act. I feel more comfortable saying it that way; sounds less menacing. I don’t like saying victim either, I don’t want to sound like I’m asking for sympathy. I still have trouble with the whole ordeal; processing it and understanding everything. I have forgiven the other person, for I still believe he knew he made a mistake and was remorseful. I’m not saying do this in every case, but it gives me serenity. After this point, I started my downward spiral. I really didn’t know it at the time. I remember coming home and laughing about the situation the night it happened, brushing off the severity. To be quite frank, I still don’t really take it seriously. I hear other people and their stories and how gruesome it may be, and I instantly think of how whiny I sound. But, no one should compare a circumstance; if it hurt you it hurt you. Point. Blank. Period.

I became a mess. I grew this sense of not caring about anything. I cared about nothing. I didn’t care about school. My grades were awful. I didn’t care about people’s perceptions of me. I didn’t care about myself. I just didn’t care. I hated everything about myself. As a child I was this way. I was very self conscious about many things. That was very debilitating, considering that I thought I had cured that part of me. It’s like building a house of cards, only to have a strong gust of wind knock them over as soon as you’re finished. I nitpicked over my body, my skin started to break out more, and my weight started to drop. I would go days without eating, always no more than three. Yes, I had a lot downfalls, but one of them was my morals. When I said I didn’t care, I literally mean I didn’t care. I’m being relatively honest. It’s embarrassing, but I did it so….can’t turn back now! I used to be a person who use to value my virginity. Before I go any further, I just want to state that I think women should do whatever the hell they want to do. Lose your virginity (I like the term sexual debut), keep it, doesn’t matter. Do what you want and always stay safe. I never really had an interest in having sex. I wanted to wait until marriage until I first had sex, or at least with someone that I had been with for a while. I envisioned my first time being romantic; champagne, satin sheets, and rose petals, that type of stuff. Well it was none of that. It was in a dark dorm room. The guy smelled like weed. There was no champagne. I think he had Gatorade though. I slept with more people than I ever thought I would sleep with in my lifetime. It’s not an astronomical number, but it still shocks me. I feel like I was trying to fill some void. I wanted to feel wanted, you know? I felt lost. I felt like being some guys “hit it and quit it” was the only thing I was worth at that time. It was a very dark time. A second “incident” would take place, but it would not involve intercourse, just me fighting the guy off for about seven minutes as he is prying my legs open, trying to get me to have sex with him. Like the first incident, I didn’t take it that seriously, but now I realize it was wrong of him. A third one came about a month or so later. I froze up that was the main thing. He genuinely did not know how uncomfortable I was, so I don’t put any blame on him for that. It was just an unfortunate event. I’ve made many mistakes during this time, and as well as getting hurt, I hurt people too. I would rather get hurt than hurt other people. I just feel guilty. I don’t feel like me anymore.

Fast forward a few months, I’m laying in a hospital with an IV in my arm. I had just attempted suicide, and failed as you can see. I’m not typing this from the grave. I had let a friend go because I thought I was hurting him. He became entangled in my drama, and I don’t want anyone’s pain to be caused by me. Should I have given more of a warning? Probably, but it was the right thing to do. That sent me over the edge. It was like every little thing I had done was wrong. I couldn’t take it. That was a few months ago. All that happened within a year.

I was struggling. Thinking about all of that and coming back to the place where all of that happened frightened me. It brought back all of those memories. It makes me fear what could happen. However, I can’t let that paralyze me. I can’t let fear cripple me. I refuse to let all of those setbacks effect my life and what I want to do with it. Of course I’m not going to just try and begin my healing cold turkey. No I go to therapy. I take time to myself. I don’t rush things. I know that things won’t change over night. I know that it will take a while to fully recover from thing that happened back then, and the things that I did because of them. I have to continue. I will learn many things a long the way. I will have hardships, I will be in pain. Somedays I’ll want to go back to my old ways. But I am going to keep moving forward. I could have told my Dad to turn the car around. We would have unpacked the car, unpacked my belongings, and sat in my bed imagining how this school year would have turned out. By the grace of God go I (I think that’s the scripture). I don’t know what will happen. I hope to be able to finish the rest of the semester, but I also know not to push myself too hard. I’m nervous to see how this year will go, but I have faith. That’s all I have for myself right now. I guess there really wasn’t much of a reason for this. Maybe it was a healing for me. I plan to detail more about what I learn throughout this year. I hope to continue on my journey through self love and acceptance.

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