Saturday, October 20, 2018

Coping in the Spirit


I am fighting schizoaffective disorder every day through my spirituality! Living with mental health concerns is challenging. Constantly, I am reflecting on my relationships, self-care demands, and responsibilities, and commitments. Currently, I am challenged most by controlling my high energy, and thought-processes regarding my general interactions, and work. But I maintain hope. A combination of mania, the side effects of my medication, and concerns with self-motivation to perform is a frequent concern. However, I strive to practice balance among my list of general coping skills that I use. I communicate closely with my treatment team; psychiatric doctor and therapist, and I also vocalize concerns with those that I can trust within my circle of influence.

In other words, I am managing both schizophrenia and bipolar disorder daily through medication, faith in my medication, and effort to maintain optimism, and self-care! Every day I strive to maintain wellness by focusing on balancing my wants and demands with stress management activities. Because life is stressful, in spite, of daily events, which can be good and not so good, I strive to add relaxation moments. These moments are not costly nor timely. Instead my self-care regimen is subtle. I carry out increments of relaxation based on the activity at-hand! Some of the self-care activities I practice include: walks, word search puzzles, house chores, taking longer baths opposed to showers, reading inspirational material, listening to music, and writing, and speaking with family and friends. Overall, my top three coping activities that help me manage my conditions are reading inspirational material, listening to music, and cleaning my home.

My problem is my mental illness, of course, but I know I can still live a good life through faith and hope. I identify as spiritual, and read scriptures. In fact, I will share specific scriptures that helps me overcome my fleeting negative thoughts associated with the diagnoses of living with schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder. The scriptures that inspire me the most include the following from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation:

  1. Isaiah 38:15-17 New Living Translation (NLT) 15 But what could I say? For he himself sent this sickness. Now I will walk humbly throughout my years because of this anguish I have felt. 16 Lord, your discipline is good, for it leads to life and health. You restore my health and allow me to live! 17 Yes, this anguish was good for me, for you have rescued me from death and forgiven all my sins. 
  2. Ecclesiastes 7:13 New Living Translation (NLT) Accept the way God does things, for who can straighten what he has made crooked?
  3. Psalm 139:13-18 New Living Translation (NLT) 13 You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. 14 Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it. 15 You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. 16 You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. 17 How precious are your thoughts about me, [a] O God. They cannot be numbered! 18 I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand! And when I wake up, you are still with me!

The above inspirational scriptures give me hope, and personally connect me to The One. Despite being diagnosed at age 20, and now being in recovery for a few years with a young child, I am still open to information, additional ways to practice coping with my diagnoses, and life, as well as embracing self-care needs. I share my lived experience to minister to myself, and to empower others.

Whenever I journal, which is often, I record my daily reflections to God that may include a scripture, prayer, and affirmation. Although I am open about my diagnosis, it is still a delicate topic of discussion, as you can wholeheartedly understand! Because, the “Overcoming Schizophrenia,” blog is my journal to you, and my God, I’ll create another special prayer, and affirmation- just for you!

My God, my God. Thank You. I thank You for another opportunity to share our story, in order, to reach somebody that needs validation, and reassurance. Because You love me the way I am, I am grateful! I know I am loved even when I do not show it to myself as strong as You do, because of my trials and mind wars. However, today, this moment, I will give thanks again for You, for my life! I love You, I need You. And I will overcome my concerns the best I can with what I have- on Your schedule, because it is already done! Amen.

Lastly, I leave you with this scripture that further inspires me to share my recovery experience, to minister to myself, and to continue coping in the Spirit.

Proverbs 31:8 New Living Translation (NLT) Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves…



I, thank you. Take care, Ashley Smith.





Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Remembering the Amazing Month of September 2018

Thank you... I thank my readers for exploring mental health concerns with me for 10 YEARS, and counting, on this blog! September 2018 was an exceptional month; full of highs AND lows. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to speak at two conferences, and to share insight on my lived experience. Also, I am grateful to celebrate another birthday with my family, friends.

Mark Lawrence, Stomp the Stigma
First, the Stomp the Stigma conference addressed youth, families, schools, and the larger community. Now having experienced two major setbacks, and hospitalizations away from home, life, responsibility, my norm, etc. At Stomp the Stigma, I was a panelist along with four caregivers, and parents, of individuals like myself; living in recovery. We had lively discussion about concerns, and our ways of coping as family to support, to endure recovery, and to live a hopeful life, which can be difficult for the individual, and loved ones. Again, I was diagnosed with schizophrenia as a young adult being 20 years old. At this event, I shared information on how my family copes with my condition then, and now with my recent 2018 hospitalization.

2018 Mental Health Conference Voices of Hope
Second, the 2018 Mental Health Conference Voices of Recovery was a great experience because it was presented by the church, for the community, and it entailed a lot of believers who shared their testimonies, spoke on mental health problems, AND ways to minimize concerns! I facilitated a workshop titled: "Coping Takes Work! The Workshop." 


My workshop introduced the theme of my next book, What's On My Mind? Coping Takes Work! My workshop was amazing, because of the following reasons: (1) I shared my recovery story, and bits of my recent hospitalization, (2) I brought participants into the hospital setting with scenarios, and (3) we each shared a little bit about our own concerns with mental health challenges as peers, family, and caregivers. The event was held at the House of Hope church in Decatur, Georgia. I enjoyed these conferences, because I disclosed parts of my recovery that once brought me down, however, strengthens me, today!

Ashley Smith, Birthday Girl
Lastly, I am another year older! I enjoyed my party with close family and friends. We had a great time laughing, talking about these events, and playing one of my favorite games; spades. I loved the entertainment and more importantly, the company. 

Finally, I am grateful to God for bringing me to this day. As I reflect on my recovery I cannot help but know and believe my experience is a miracle! I could've have been in many difficult places, and not free, nor well. However, The Spirit, The One, our Creator, brought me back, in a "good place."

I thank you readers. I thank my family, and friends. I thank my many supporters. I thank my GOD. 

****If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health conditions do seek professional support, and self-help groups for you and your family. Your county mental health center, and local NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness affiliate)... The blessing, our blessing, is the mind, a "good place," and living life, itself! Thank you.****

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Ashley's Upcoming Workshop September 29, 2018

What’s On My Mind? Coping Takes Work! The Workshop (Description)
What’s On My Mind? Coping Takes Work! The Workshop An introduction to a peer’s second book, based on her lived experience with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Despite maintaining wellness, her condition is still an illness that requires work! Eleven years after her first breakdown that resulted in her diagnosis, she has yet another experience where her reality is in diverse worlds in her mind, only. Coping Takes Work! focuses on how she endures the second-time around, still struggling, but not giving in! Through these experiences, reflecting on her first break, and her recent, she still sees hope.

What To Expect from The Workshop
A group discussion on the following concerns and needs to prepare an individual for a crisis and/or hospitalization:

  • Warning Signs
  • Triggers
  • Practical Scenarios 
  • Your Coping Skills 
  • Advance Directive

The Facilitator
Ashley Smith is a lived experienced expert, certified peer specialist (CPS), and speaker. She is a trained speaker with NAMI Georgia and the Respect Institute. Ashley is managing her schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder. Her recovery journey began in 2007. Despite living with her conditions, she thrives evident by her resiliency, which she discloses on her personal blog, “Overcoming Schizophrenia,” (2008-present). Her first book, which is a collection of blog entries from “Overcoming Schizophrenia,” What’s On My Mind? However, her follow up book, What’s On My Mind? Coping Takes Work! that is devoted to the act of recovery, which is articulated in its title, “coping,” and the work involved. Ashely Smith self-published her book and wants to assist others to do the same. She is president and CEO of EMM Enterprise, LLC. Through EMM Enterprise Ashley guides individuals on how to organize, compile, and to deliver a self-published book! To contact Ashley, visit her blog or website…

Upcoming Book
Ashley Smith authors, What's On My Mind? A Collection of Blog Entries from Overcoming Schizophrenia, which is available on Amazon. Her book reflects on memories of her first breakdown in 2007 that is a vivid account of her processing of the diagnosis of schizophrenia, and bizarre thoughts while experiencing different realities. Likewise, Ashley's writing still shares her story. Her next  book, What’s On My Mind? Coping Takes Work! is inspired by her recent hospitalization in 2018, which she recorded in her journal during her inpatient hospitalization. 

Ashley practices recovery by living it, sharing it, and giving the God of her understanding all the credit for restoring her mind! Despite challenges of living with mental health conditions, which can disrupt all areas of one’s livelihood, Ashley is committed to mental health advocacy! Struggling for her livelihood, but not for her hope. The book, What's On My Mind? Coping Takes Work! is forthcoming...

Register TODAY
2018 Mental Health Conference Voices of Hope: Speaking Out About Mental Health in Church and Community 

  • FREE Event
  • Saturday, September 29, 2018
  • 9 AM to 3 PM
  • The House of Hope church, Dr. E. Dewey Smith (Senior Pastor), located: 4650 Flat Shoals Parkway, Decatur, GA 30034
  • To learn more about workshops offered, and to register visit: www.faithbasedmentalhealth.org/workshops

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Continue Acknowledging Recovery -September "National Recovery Month"

September is "National Recovery Month." It seems that I almost forgot this?! However, I do not want you to let this special month of recognition go by without additional reflection on the meaning of recovery.

Despite living with mental health challenges since my diagnosis in 2007, my definition of recovery changes to me! Although I was diagnosed with schizophrenia, my treatment team switched my official diagnosis to schizo-affective disorder early on without much discussion. As you may be aware, already, schizo-affective disorder is schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder. Over the years I gained a lot of knowledge about schizophrenia, and not enough about bipolar disorder, which I will work on, every diagnosis requires attention at recovery! Every diagnosis can damage a good person and their loved ones, however, recovery can overcome many struggles with mental health concerns...

In 2007, I was hospitalized. And, in 2018, I was hospitalized, again. Through my experience I gained a better understanding of mental health conditions, and the meaning of recovery to me. Even though an individual may experience a setback in their life and recovery, this does not change my definition of recovery right now.

Many persons may select the definition of recovery, 'to restore,' which is correct in most if not all dictionaries. Opposite, I used to hold the viewpoint that recovery is the same as maintaining a good place. I was wrong! Recovery is an action, which demands life-long attention. 

Recovery is to keep trying. While I was at my worse, without full-knowledge of the extent of how poor if a state that my condition had on me, overall, I learned how to cope better, harder, and to keep trying despite distractions!

I was writing my follow up book to my first, prior to my recent time away. My first book is a collection of posts from this blog entitled: What's On My Mind? and available on Amazon. Through my experience, and ongoing redirection, and effort to practice recovery, I learned a significant piece of wisdom... The definition of recovery is the effort to live, the strength to keep on, and the hope in trying again, and again... 

Do not let this month go by without paying closer attention to recovery for people like myself, and you, and others living with mental health challenges. Everybody is enduring a fight to overcome. Many persons are living with a diagnosis and continue to practice recovery!

My upcoming book, What's On My Mind? Coping Takes Work! will articulate my challenges, but also my triumphs during my inpatient hospital visit. My hospital stay required a lot of me, in order, to stay empowered, and to try again at recovering from my conditions. 

I remember a close friend's identification and common concern... whenever a somebody goes into the hospital an individual buys them flowers. However, when a peer goes into an inpatient mental health hospital some of us do not consider to purchase ourselves and fellow peers flowers... stigma. Mental health conditions are a medical condition too! Next time, if you know anybody going in or getting out of a mental health hospital consider buying them some flowers even if they do not value them generally, trying to put forth effort is always a good place to be in with the stigma we live daily. With that said, upon my return home, I brought myself some flowers, and a card to celebrate my mind, and recovery!

September is National Recovery Month. Continue to acknowledge it. Continue to learn more.  Continue to reach out, and continue to support recovery in its diverse meanings, especially this month (September, National Recovery Month!)... Thank you.

I am well, again...-Ashley Smith's Hallmark greeting card to self

Sunday, September 16, 2018

My Blog, My Recovery, My Book, & My Life!

I just made it back home earlier this week... My spirit was fighting for my mind, daily, second by second. The mind is of this world, however, The Spirit of Him within my soul, always wins the victory! To my God, The One, The Spirit, to Him, the glory, forever! I thank You, always. Love, Ashley 
(Embracing My Mind, Facebook, September 15, 2018).


Ashley Smith, Author/Blogger, "Overcoming Schizophrenia" (2008-2018)
First, I thank you for reading about my recovery on this personal blog (not for pay), Overcoming Schizophrenia (started in 2008). I blog to learn, to share, and to inform someone about LIVING with mental health concerns, such as schizophrenia. I do this for me, for other individuals, and most importantly, for my God, He restores my mind. 

I am grateful for my mind, life, and another opportunity to share my lived experience, in order to support another peer, family member, and supporter. We, us, we welcome: self-improvement, awareness, hope, and support as we strive to practice wellness. I write, we read, I write some more, and WE share, and then write some more. I thank you for visiting, reading, and checking on me, my blog, Overcoming Schizophrenia.

In short, my blog, Overcoming Schizophrenia, is about- my lived experience with schizophrenia, which for me began in 2007. I was arrested, jailed, and hospitalized for five months. Ultimately, facing felony charges, predominately, because of my unknown life-long challenge, my medical concern; my mental health condition; SCHIZOPHRENIA.

Fortunately, the felony charges were reduced to misdemeanors, with time-served. I was 20 years old, I spent my 21st birthday in a court-ordered state psychiatric hospital in California. My family, and I did not understand, or know the challenges, and setbacks that my mental health problems would create, worsen, and disrupt.

Last month, (August 2018), I was arrested, and hospitalized. Eleven years later... this time in my other home state, Georgia. This time without my mother, who passed away in 2013 with breast cancer. In spite of living with these concerns, my faith enables me to find something, at least one part of my experience, which was negative, but can be turned around into a positive asset into my own recovery, as well as somebody else! 

Although my mental health condition improves in comparison to my first nervous breakdown (at age 20) having more work experience, and birthing, and caring for my son; and taking care of our daily needs, regularly, everyday, is precious. And so is my mind, "precious." My mind is precious to me because it helps me to maintain my livelihood; my motherhood, my independence, my opportunity to grow, and to learn, and to experience life; to love life, by sharing my recovery story with others; on this blog. Still, I have a strong foundation, the support of my family, in California, and also here, Atlanta. Moreover, a strong support system that include: family, treatment team, peers, and friends.

However, my schizophrenia did NOT disappear. Despite my many accomplishments my mental health concerns NEVER disappeared. My diagnosis is officially, schizo-affective disorder, or a combination of schizophrenia, AND bipolar disorder (mania), which was probably true for me in 2007, but was misdiagnosed as schizophrenia, alone. I experience depression, mania, and several other symptoms that schizophrenia possesses. To me schizophrenia is a thought disorder that alters an individual's thinking, thought-processing, behavior, and emotions and such.

I take at least three primary medications to help minimize the drastic impact that my diagnosis can have on my senses, and reality, and thus, lack of- reality. To help me maintain my livelihood, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder; I take medication for the severity of my condition. I take medication because I see the benefits. Under the supervision of my psychiatric doctor, therapist, and other professionals in my treatment team's office, I take at least three medications: 1) an anti-psychotic, 2) a mood stabilizer, and 3) an anti-depressant.

This month, September 2018, is HUGE to me. Right now, I am celebrating my Overcoming Schizophrenia blog! My blog is 10 years old, and alive, still... Also, this month is my BIRTHDAY-MONTH (September). Despite my recent setback, and issues, I am still working on me, and my recovery. Unlike my last major setback (2007), this time I advocated to the judge for myself.

I have a lot of experience with the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), here known as NAMI Georgia. Specifically, its presentation "In Our Own Voice," where the presenter(s) share their recovery story according to specific themes, and /or topics.

Also, I am a Respect Institute graduate that is a trained speaker, and individual living with a disability, who skillfully articulates the lived experience for themselves, peers, and others. Also, the Respect Institute of Georgia is sponsored by the Georgia Mental Health Consumer Network.

Lastly, I am excited about my rekindled spirit, and energy, on writing... Writing my next book:

WHAT'S ON MY MIND?
Coping Takes Work!
by Ashley Smith

This book is a follow up to my first book, What's On My Mind? A Collection of Blog Entries from Overcoming Schizophrenia. Coping Takes Work! This book will focus on how I managed to endure the systems, specifically, the court-ordered hospital visit.

Finally, I am still recuperating, and writing. However, it is important to note that Coping Takes Work! is inspired by my journal, which I wrote in the hospital. I had to minister to myself, in order to stay hopeful, and positive about my potential release, and opportunity to be with my child, to share my experience, and to enjoy my life, again!

Eleven years ago looked similar to a few short weeks ago. However, I am well now. I am sharing my experience, and I am grateful for the opportunity to live, and to enjoy the journey that my Higher Power chooses for me, still! Thank you. 

Much love,
Ashley Smith,
Blogger, Author, Peer, & Mother for My Higher Power- THE SPIRIT, THE ONE, THE CREATOR

Ashley Smith, Author of forthcoming book:
What's On My Mind? Coping Takes Work!

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Healthy Minds Matter Mental Health Forum- Saturday, May 5th

I will share my story and book at "Healthy Minds Matter" Mental Health Forum May 5, 2018!
Sponsored by Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.,
Psi Alpha Omega Chapter and Hearts To Nourish Hope

Ashley Smith, author of What's On My Mind?


“HEALTHY MINDS MATTER” 

COMMUNITY MENTAL HEALTH FORUM & DISCUSSION 

SATURDAY, MAY 5, 2018 8:30 AM - NOON 

THE HEARTS TO NOURISH HOPE FACILITY 

640 GA-138 RIVERDALE, GA 30296


Register for FREE Today!



After the Show- Spoken Sounds of Soul

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and what better way to recognize this month than with an open candid discussion on mental illness! I had an AWESOME experience on Spoken Sounds of Soul show with T Love, Dr. Angela Harris, and Zovon Lee, and Shanbin. Here are some pictures of us after the Show:





- THANK YOU

Coping in the Spirit

I am fighting schizoaffective disorder every day through my spirituality! Living with mental health concerns is challenging. Constantly, I...