Sunday, December 7, 2014
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 vitamins and create more time for self care. I've struggled with managing my self care because I want to help those around me, so I lessen my "me-time" and volunteer additional support to peers at work and friends outside of work... I cannot continue on this routine. I spoke to a peer who is also in recovery and we plan to check in with each other to hold ourselves accountable to our new self care regimens. We've practiced this before but let it go, now I'm ready to pick up our check in routine to get myself back focused and well. Peer support helps a lot, and I need it again. I'm glad I have a better understanding of my problems and situation.
How do you balance your self care for good mental health?
Sunday, November 9, 2014
How do you manage your medication regimen to fit within your routine?
Wednesday, October 1, 2014
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 time I plan on starting my new routine two days a week and then gradually building on it. Also, I would like to reward myself for small accomplishments along the way. Therefore, I haven't given up, I will strive to create healthy new habits.
Have you created a new habit in the last six months? What did your process look like?
Do you have an idea that would help one develop a new habit?
Wednesday, September 24, 2014
|Me- On A "Good Day"|
|Me- T.I.R.E.D. At the End of the Day|
Monday, September 8, 2014
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,
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 minutes each day, starting tomorrow, September 9th.
I'll keep a personal journal on my progress and shortcomings, and blog about my "wellness outcomes" on my "Overcoming Schizophrenia" blog at the end of this month in recognition of National Recovery Month.
Show your support, and join me on OUR "Optimal Wellness Challenge!"
Tuesday, September 2, 2014
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.
The Georgia Mental Health Consumer Network, Inc. (GMHCN) facilitates the state's Certified Peer Specialist (CPS) training in addition to several training courses such as Mental Health First Aid, Wellness, Recovery, Action, Plan (WRAP), and the Respect Institute of Georgia. The organization manages a few peer-led respite centers throughout the state. And each year during the month of August they hosts a conference for people living in recovery and who are adding continuing education units for their Certified Peer Specialist certification.
Tuesday, June 24, 2014
- Repeat positive affirmations aloud,
- Sing a song,
- Listen to soothing music,
- Give a hug, and
- Encourage prayer
Hearing voices can be tormenting. I remember hearing cruel voices that sounded like evil cartoon characters, however, I was convinced they were real and were coming from the people around me. The voices aggressively stated: "You will never make it!" "You are a dishonor to your family!" and other mean statements that did not make sense to me. Although I do not hear voices today, I occasionally cope with disturbing thoughts. When negative thoughts cross my mind I change my focus on reality at that moment, or create a "good' thought such as what brought me joy recently.
Currently, I work part-time as a Certified Peer Specialist (CPS). A CPS is an individual who is living in recovery with mental illness and mentors and advocates on behalf of peers with mental illness. Sometimes my work requires that I find alternative ways to offer support to others who are challenged by their symptoms and daily concerns with others. When helping another individual cope with voices the situation encourages me to act outside the typical role as staff member. This is a challenging task, but can be overcome. Today, my co-workers and I found five strategies to help our peer find relief from the voices. Therefore, I encourage peers, family members, and supporters to practice these five steps, but not in any order, instead go down the list until the individual gets relief.
What are some other ways someone can either cope with the voices alone, or support someone who is suffering with voices?
Wednesday, May 7, 2014
|NAMI Georgia Annual Conference, Mercer University (2014)|
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
Monday, March 10, 2014
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.
Saturday, March 1, 2014
Sunday, February 9, 2014
Friday, February 7, 2014
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 how to deescalate crisis situations with people who have mental illness. Shortly after the family member made those comments I shared my story. His perception dramatically changed after hearing my testimony, and he reached out to me and applauded my efforts to maintain recovery.
No matter how severe the mental illness, I believe there is hope for recovery. At one point in my life I was very suspicious and did not trust anyone, not even family members and close friends. My paranoia led to my almost life-threatening practice of turning away food and drink over fear that "they" (meaning everybody) tried to poison me. The illness took over and denied me to right to move, I stayed in one position without understanding of the length of duration that passed. Bystanders went on about their routine until they took notice that I had not moved an inch for comfort, or to itch, nothing, which concerned them very much. I do not know how long this routine went on but I can recall having racing thoughts or strangely no thoughts at all. Medical staff rushed me to the emergency room to keep me hydrated and alive by use of an IV and fluids. Looking back I can imagine how my future may have looked dreary, however, I had a few hopeful doctors who saw beyond my then current situation and tried their best to make my recovery a reality.
Recovery is my current reality. My recovery is not a rare phenomenon, I have a few friends who also have schizophrenia among other mental illnesses and are enjoying life managing their condition. Finally, my hope is for medical teams and families to keep hope alive for people diagnosed with mental illness. I am one of the many individuals managing schizophrenia. I am not the first and I am not the last, I am the new average.
Friday, January 31, 2014
Now that my stress is more manageable I don't have to make an early visit to my doctor. However, I still feel some stress, mostly good stress, because of the demands I put on myself. Currently, I feel more balanced and that my tension is under control. I knew I was getting better because I took the time to clean my house and to communicate more often with those individuals in my support network.
What are some of your warning signs that you need to take a step back and to regroup. How do you find balance?
Thursday, January 30, 2014
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, and can be for others too. I started sharing my experiences by blogging anonymously. And gradually over time, and with a better understanding of my illness and others I disclosed my identity.
I would not describe my experiences as easy or quick, but it was worth the process to get to where I am today in my recovery and life. Peers living with mental illness, I encourage you to choose treatment, whatever that looks like to you and practice it wholeheartedly. And to those who are managing, don't overlook our peers who are struggling, but help them by sharing your coping skills and motivation.
To my peers' supporters, don't neglect your own mental health and self-care responsibilities. I suggest you join a support group or online chat network for family members, caregivers, and supporters. This connection will help you find answers on how to cope and overcome situations.
Stay encouraged. Strive for mental wellness, it is your livelihood. And never, ever, give up hope.
Saturday, January 18, 2014
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, reasonably priced
- Provides the human experience aspect of living with a mental illness
- Encourages people to seek professional help
- Shares a hopeful outlook on recovery living with mental illness
- Gives another perspective on mental illness which benefits others
- Assisting those on their recovery journey for themselves or a loved ones
I am so excited about this project and hope you will support me. This book is my first book, and certainly not my last!