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Showing posts from 2014

My Enemy- Depression Or My Responsibilities?

How often do you confuse your mental health deterioration and physical ailments for your mental illness, opposed to the burdens that you put on yourself with an active lifestyle?

Over the past few months I've struggled with the physical ramifications of "depression," or what I thought was my depression. I've had partial work days as the result of my fatigue and lack of energy. I've felt: drained, off balanced, and uneasy. In fact, I visited my mental health doctor and primary care doctor for help. My mental health doctor realized my poor sleeping habits were the outcome of lack of direction or not taking my medication as prescribed which was in the morning and NOT at night. Finally, when my primary care doctor performed several blood tests without issues he explained to me what my problems were, an "active lifestyle."

Now, I know what I should do to help myself with this concern of lack of energy- continue to take my medication, resume taking vitamin…

My Medication Schedule

Recently, I've had to revise my medication schedule. For the last two months I've had problems staying asleep, and I've been talking to my mental health doctor under monthly basis to resolve my poor sleeping habits. On the last visit we discovered I was taking one of my prescriptions at night when it should've been taken in the morning. In fact, my pill bottle said to take the medicine in the mornings, but I wanted to change my medication regimen for my convenience. However, I'm going back to a morning routine. I will set my cell phone alarm as a reminder to take my medicine before I leave the house. I am hopeful that this change will help me sleep better. It's interesting how small changes can either create big problems or solutions. I think my sleeping patterns will improve along with my energy level and ability to manage high productivity at work.

How do you manage your medication regimen to fit within your routine?

The Outcome of My Wellness Challenge

For National Recovery Month I created a personal self-care plan to enhance my recovery, I labeled it my "Optimal Wellness Challenge." My goal was to take my meds each morning at the same time, to journal, and to practice meditation and self-reflection for ten minutes for three to five days. Success would be dependent on whether I was able to create a new habit for myself. A way for me to be held accountable was to check in with a friend who was also challenging herself in different areas.However, I did not succeed at the challenge, and I wasn't able to maintain accountability through the check in process. In the beginning we checked in every other day, and I seemed to master taking my medication on time and journaling regularly. Our communication slowly deteriorated as well as my motivation with some spurts of energy every now and then. Overall, I think I failed the challenge because I took a leap opposed to baby steps to achieve my plans. Yet, I will try again. Next tim…

Invisible Challenges: Self-Care

When's the last time you managed your self-care, well?- Today? Yesterday?- Or has it been that long? As a mother, employee, and volunteer, my ideal self-care activities have decreased from one extreme to another. In the past, I had pampering days that included leisure activities and visits to the nail salon, now this "me-time" has turned into tiny acts of self-reflection like maintaining my journal.
My days are filled with rigorous activities I enjoy like working with peers, sharing my recovery story to diverse groups, and caring for my son. Ironically, my job as a Certified Peer Specialist (CPS) is to model great self-care for the sake of my mental health. However, that is an ongoing roller coaster that I strive to shut down and to restore balance, but I am moving too fast to take back my control! 
For example, besides my erratic sleep habits,  I frequently skip breakfast and sometimes lunch because I am focused on my work, this does not bother me until later... Dinner…

The "Optimal Wellness Challenge"

Calling All Peers- Are YOU up for the OPTIMAL WELLNESS CHALLENGE?!

I am challenging US to practice a couple of coping tools consistently for National Recovery Month, that you would like to either add or maintain in your wellness routine for 5 consecutive days each week for three weeks. I've heard that if an individual maintains a practice for 21 days it will become a habit.

These practices may include:

1) Diet/nutrition & supplemental enhancement,
2) Spirituality-based,
3) Treatment/medication compliance,
4) Physical activity,
5) Effective communication,
6) Alternative therapy,
7) Creative practice, or
8) Other positive practice...

I would like you to choose two new habit-forming activities you would like to practice and report back at the end of each week by sending me a personal message about your progress.

I will start our "Optimal Wellness Challenge" by journaling more frequently, taking my medication at the same time every day, and to practice meditation for 10 …

"Year of the Peer" Georgia Mental Health Consumer Network Conference

A couple of weeks ago I visited St. Simon's Island, Georgia to attend the annual Georgia Mental Health Consumer Network, Inc. (GMHCN) conference. The theme of this year's conference was "The Year of the Peer." I enjoyed the three-day conference because of the fellowship with my peers and the honor to be one of the keynote speakers among Georgia's Commissioner Frank Berry and Jana Spalding.

I titled my talk, "I Choose To Live!," which was inspired by Jen's award title. I spoke about my experiences, how I am living a quality life in recovery, and what peer support looks like. My talk encouraged everyone to talk to their neighbor and to create a title for their inspirational book. The experience was amazing because I was able to get each individual to help others with their talents and gifts.

Moreover, every attendee received a copy of my book, which was so exciting! I signed my book for others throughout the remaining days of the conference and made a…

Five Ways To Gain Relief And To Cope With Voices

Today my co-workers and I offered support to our peer who was struggling with discouraging voices. She looked extremely overwhelmed and stressed. This was not the first time she sought relief with our help, however, each time we try to offer a caring hand during tough moments like this.  All three of us offered support to her in diverse ways that included:

Repeat positive affirmations aloud, Sing a song,Listen to soothing music,Give a hug, andEncourage prayer One of the few affirmations we repeated was: "I am strong..." In addition to that we reinforced encouraging words by making positive statements about her triumph over the voices. As a group we recited the song: "Lean On Me." And we listened to a loving song on the internet through a cell phone- Whitney Houston's "I Will Always Love You." Also, one of us was led to give her a hug, another recited a short prayer with her. Afterwards, she looked much better, and was able to go about her day; also we …

Finding Ways To Help Myself Cope With Daily Stresses

Lately, I've been under a lot of stress with work, volunteering, family life, and promoting my book. My mental illness seems to enable me to do what I want and need to do, but I feel I need to tweak my medication, because of my challenging thoughts and depression. Whenever I experience a lot of unwanted thoughts, anxiety, and a lack of motivation to keep my house neat I know I must focus on managing my stress. To help myself with the stress, this week I organized my work into one binder opposed to keeping a lot of folders and loose papers. It helped a little for my work environment. However, my mood and home environment are my most difficult concerns, because I am less accountable to keep a clean house, and I could make up a series of excuses as to why there is a mess.
Last week I cancelled my doctor's appointment because of a valid reason that I will not go into detail about. I will reschedule my appointment ASAP because I feel like some of my symptoms are gradually returnin…

My NAMI Georgia Book Signing

On April 26th I shared my recovery story and first book, What's on My Mind? A Collection of Blog Entries from "Overcoming Schizophrenia," at NAMI Georgia's annual conference at Mercer University in Atlanta, GA. This event enabled me to network with more individuals who advocate for those of us living with a mental illness. I had a great experience and really enjoyed talking to others who were from all over the state of Georgia, and support mental health awareness.

I have a speaking engagement and book signing with the NAMI Family Support Group at Lake Oconee, located at Lakeside Church in Greensboro,GA at 6:30 PM. I am looking forward to sharing my recovery experience and promoting my new book. Therefore, if you reside nearby come join us to hear my story in-person click here to see flyer. RSVP at NAMI.LakeOconee@gmail.com. My book is available on Amazon.com and CreateSpace.com

My Blog Book is Here!

My first book is here! My blog book, What's on My Mind? A Collection of Blog Entries from "Overcoming Schizophrenia," is my first book and is not my last! My book shares my personal recovery story with mental illness and offers hope and awareness. This book will be a great reading for anyone affected by mental illness and is available on Amazon for under $13.99 plus shipping.

This is a great reading for individuals who are newly diagnosed with mental illness, family members, educators and students, providers, and others interested in learning about the lived experience. I hope you will continue to show your support and purchase my book.

Convenience vs. Crisis-- My Battle to Stay Compliant

Avoiding a crisis with the aid of medication or any form of treatment should always take precedence over convenience. I missed a couple of days of medication. I did not forget to take my medicine, instead I told myself it was not convenient. Therefore, I continued on with my busy schedule, and regretted it in the days to come. I followed up on taking my medicine after I starting experiencing the side effects of my antidepressant, my inability to maintain focus with my eyes. This discomfort prompted me to take my medication for the side effects and also my mental health medicine.
Reflecting on my actions I know how careless and risky it was to opt out of taking my medication to treat my mental illness. I've had my share of bizarre thoughts, disconnection from reality, and psychosis among several other scary symptoms of schizophrenia. I generally motivate myself to stay compliant with my medication regimen because I do not want anyone to see me when I am in a state of confusion, but…

Hope for the New Average

Despite the many deaths cancer takes each year, hope for recovery continues to play a role in the ongoing treatment and attitude of its victims and survivors. In fact, I have a close connection to the devastating toil breast cancer and other types of cancer has taken on my family. Although cancer and mental illness are very different I believe that same hopeful prognosis should be practiced for people diagnosed with mental illness, especially schizophrenia. It seems that nowadays treatment for mental illness can and does enable people to live a quality life. However, this message is not presented to the public. Instead, treatment for schizophrenia is rarely advertised, and thus, hope and life after diagnosis continues to be a myth to many.

A couple of years ago a family member believed that there was no hope for people living with schizophrenia and shared his beliefs with a room full of trainees in the Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) training. This training educates law enforcement on …

Finding Balance

Coping with stress is easier said than done. I think stress puts pressure on my illness, which increases chances of my symptoms to flare up. Because I think stress is a trigger for me I try to catch myself whenever I feel it beginning to get out of hand. My early warning signs include: feeling depressed, drained, and whenever I neglect responding to emails in a speedy manner, isolate from those closest to me, do not uphold a clean house, and feel a lot of anxiety.

A little while ago I felt like I was beginning to feel overwhelmed. Sometimes I feel uncomfortably stressed to the extent where I feel I need to have my dose of medication increased to help me cope. Before I attempted to alter my medication with my doctor I experimented with different coping skills that helped me before. I tried to relax and enjoy my moment whenever I could by taking a bath, sitting in silence, and reflecting on the good things that happened to me. I received a spa pedicure and went shopping too. Furthermore…

Don't Overlook My Peers

Philippians 2:3-4 New King James Version (NKJV) 3 Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. 4 Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.

My heart goes out peers suffering with mental illness, and to their supporters who are affected. Many of my peers suffer in silence, because of stigma or negative perceptions. Before I accepted treatment me and my family were a mess. I could not function to the extent that I did not know who the president was at the time. The voices interrupted my conversations and made it difficult for me to stay engaged. Years later I can still recall those uncomfortable, anxious, frightening moments when my mind was in limbo.

My advice to peers who've found a treatment plan that works for them is to share their experience with others. The lived experience is valuable. Sharing my experiences with schizophrenia is therapeutic, a…

Ashley's First Blog Book...

Greetings everyone, and Happy New Year! I've missed blogging and corresponding with you regularly, because I've been busy writing my first blog book, What's On My Mind?: A Collection of Blog Entries from "Overcoming Schizophrenia." This book is a quick read about my experiences with schizophrenia and can be purchased online at Amazon, coming soon...

This collection of blog entries was inspired by you! I shared my story with you in mind; people living with a mental illness, family members, students, clinicians, law enforcement, mental health advocates, educators, or anyone interested in the field of mental health. My hope is people will read my story and be encouraged to seek treatment, have a positive perception about people living with mental illness, and to keep hope alive.

If you enjoy reading my blog, "Overcoming Schizophrenia," you are in for a treat with What's On My Mind? This is a must read...

Short informative read and easy to follow, reason…