Friday, March 8, 2019

The Role of the Therapist

The therapist upholds much in my relationship with recovery, which is a lifestyle. My therapist helps in diverse ways such as holding me accountable to my treatment plan, routine to maintain wellness, and self-commitments, or personal obligations. My therapist helps me combat self-stigma, encourages balance and routine as well as focus on wellness. In short, my therapist plays a significant role in my treatment team that consists of my psychiatric doctor, nurse, myself, and them, the therapist.

Whenever I have unanswered questions I take concerns to my therapist. My therapist finds resolutions pertaining to unanswered questions with my doctor, and general demands at the mental health center altogether. For example, when I had concerns paying for medication my therapist made a referral to the nurse to manage my needs. Also, my therapist can assist in scheduling appointments with the doctor whenever there is an emergency. Overall, the therapist plays a vital role in helping me stay accountable to treatment, keep distance from self-stigma, and to stay focused on a holistic outlook.

I appreciate sessions with my therapist, because they are resourceful, give straightforward input, and practice consistency. Holding onto negativity is easy. Therefore, being conscious of self-stigma is important to managing recovery. Limiting myself according to lack of awareness, and stereotypes of society weighs me down. I prefer to stay focused on my strengths, which my therapist helps reinforce in therapy, and to not let widespread fears dictate my outlook. I stay above self-stigma by reflecting my accomplishments, relationships with peers, and my faith in God. Moreover, my therapist reminds me of my many options to continue moving forward.

Part of my accountability to fulfilling demands of treatment is to manage a mood journal. My mood journal helps depict causes, and effects, of moods based on daily events, which I rate on a widespread color-based scale. My better days are the result of accomplishing my things to do list. While not-so-good days are typically plagued with unpredictable stress. Fortunately, my therapist and I review my mood journal, and corresponding events to determine triggers and warning signs leading up to my poorer days.

My holistic recipe includes my spirituality, support system, and personal responsibilities. In general, I aim to give God His time by praying, reading scriptures, and listening to uplifting music that focuses on Him. I feel more at peace whenever I worship and mediate regularly. I keep a handful of persons in my circle because they are my confidants, which requires trustworthiness. My personal responsibilities give way to making treatment a priority. My personal obligations are my livelihood; my son, our home, and self-care routine to balance life better. Therapy not only helps me manage my mood but also reinforces my self-commitments to enjoy recovery and life more.

Finally, my therapist holds many roles, which holds me accountable. My therapist gives me assignment to reflect on symptoms and such by recording a mood journal. My therapist reminds me of my strength that way I do not fall victim to self-stigma. Lastly, my therapist encourages holistic approaches that builds my wellness, and recovery based on my support system, spirituality, and routine for my personal livelihood.

To engage in a greater understanding of therapist and therapy for you click on the link:

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Peer-to-Peer Advice

When I was diagnosed with schizophrenia 12 years ago my doctor gave me two pieces of information: (1) take your medication, and (2) manage your stress. Since then I manage my household, part-time job, and family obligations to my child. Still, I underestimated the importance of stress management. I was hospitalized last year due to what seemed like a decade of stressors. These stresses included financial hardship, the anniversary of my mother's passing, and birthday, the breakdown of important relationships to my support system, and lack of awareness of my triggers, and warning signs.

In short, triggers and warning signs are similar but different like a stop sign versus a yield sign on the road. Triggers are events or experiences that create negative consequences either emotionally, physically, socially, and legally. For example, a trigger may be going to a place that reminds one of a poor experience, and thus creates tension, stress, and dread, which leads to irritability and poor communication with others. A warning sign is similar, but it happens before a trigger settles. Warning signs are signs that lets an individual know they are not feeling well and require attention before symptoms and experience worsens. Fortunately, examining experiences helps one determine how to manage these triggers and warning signs better in the future.

I gained more wisdom from my hospital stay. I learned how to maintain a good place. While hospitalized I practiced a few coping strategies in order to stay focused in my place of wellness. Coping skills are essential to recovery. Recovery requires more than medication. Recovery to me is to keep trying. I define recovery to keep trying, because it is the act of striving for a better place of wellness. My coping skills include: therapy, rest, walking, writing, affirmations, trustworthy confidants, prayer, singing, reading faith-based material, motivational talks, uplifting music, and routine. The advice my doctor gave worked well for me. However, based on experience I had to focus more on stress management than anything, which meant awareness of my triggers, warning signs, and practice of my coping skills.

Finally, I encourage peers in recovery, and our supporters, to add a post-crisis management plan to ways to maintain. In other words, if medication works well do it, but focus on stress management or coping skills, and implementing a post-crisis plan. A post-crisis management plan is much like Mary Ellen Copeland's WRAP [Wellness Recovery Action Plan], or a psychiatric advance directive (PAD). They provide instructions on how to facilitate wellness during a crisis such as hospitalization. These Plans share pertinent information including how a peer functions when well, triggered, and how to best support us with preferred treatment, ideal facilities for recuperation, and preferences in how to manage our livelihood such as family, home, and communication with employer. I believe a post-crisis plan is essential to recovery because it acknowledges the many factors involved in recovery and life! Thus, from peer-to-peer I encourage us all to develop a post-crisis plan that way we can maintain recovery, stress management, and practice self-sufficiency by planning ahead.

To gain more advice on how to maintain recovery visit BetterHelp,

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

10 Ways That Shows Blogger LOVE

I posted this article on February 14, 2017, however, it is helpful to bloggers. Therefore, take notes! Thank you.

What is more important? The message, messenger, or number of readers, and comments?

I may not be the best blogger, but me and my blog, Overcoming Schizophrenia, was recognized and requested by some of the best… Huffington Post, a powerhouse and community-oriented pharmaceutical company, and organizations outside of my state, and country; including countless radio, and public relations’ requests to be on their shows, etc.

When I started my personal blog, Overcoming Schizophrenia (2008), I was scared, anonymous, however very much honest, which was at times uncomfortable for me as the blogger author, and it was overwhelming for some readers.

However, my blog has been mentioned in numerous articles, received a lot of attention from fellow bloggers, and was awarded by many of my blogging friends. I say all this to encourage you to consider my experience, reasons for my M.I.A. (Missing In Action), and maturity, love, and growth with my livelihood and online reflections in my blog.

This is for You Blogger Newbies, a few gifts to indulge, glance at, practice, or just click-n-go to another interesting blog, and article on your screen… and to my fellow bloggers those I know, and/or will get to know, please add more gifts to our “Love Day” dedication to our new blogging peers. This list should offer many don'ts, and why they are don'ts, but also increase readership, respect, and comments!!!
  1. Keep it real
  2. Never apologize
  3. Invite feedback
  4.  Be mindful of focus
  5. Go with the flow
  6. Always engage in self-care
  7. No rambling allowed
  8. Be sensitive to causes
  9.  Stay in your lane
  10. Respect privacy

Keep It Real
From Day One, I was honest and still am. Readers expect that from me… However, keep it safe and within your own style, approach, and delivery, and comfort.

Never Apologize
In the past, I’ve apologized to readers for not blogging. I stopped doing that for me. I blog because I love to write and reflect and to connect with others not because I am obligated. Finally, my reasons for not apologizing anymore is because I have legitimate personal reasons and excuses I choose not to disclose in detail with the world.

Invite Feedback
I engage readers with a question… it’s like text messaging, if you don’t ask a question you may only get a read or maybe “ok.” Therefore, ask for feedback relative to topic.  

Be Mindful of Focus
I’ve had the wonderfully talented Sade music artist singing on my blog to a few of her greatest hits; reality check, not everybody wants to hear my music while reading my blog about my diagnosis at that time. Maybe they prefer a different tune such as rock music. Maybe readers want to read and not be distracted by sounds not of their choice… I’m just saying.

Flashing colors and banners can be another distraction. Finally, too many advertisements distracts me personally, so why would I want to dump too many advertisements on readers?

Go With The Flow
Scheduling. I write whenever led. Fellow bloggers may keep a routine, which works for them. However, I don’t want to set myself up for failure, therefore I don’t tell readers I will post every week on a certain day or time of month. Yet, that may be appropriate for paid bloggers…

Always Engage In Self-care
My wellness is more important than anything, any appearance, blog and message, numbers, etc.

No Rambling Allowed
This is a blog, not a lecture, speech, or face-to-face conversation. Keep it direct, juicy, full of substance, and quality…

Be Sensitive To Causes
One time I posted a picture of fighting chickens, because I liked the shades of color and imagery. However, I quickly deleted that post because I was unknowingly offending a lot of people who love and respect animals, including online sites that I wanted to collaborate with, and to exchange links. Thus, be sensitive to groups because you never know when you want to work with others, and to never offend that collaborating partnership.

Stay In Your Lane
I live in the south, “The Bible Belt.” A lot of things I should not say, and do not say while speaking to people in public in our southern communities. However, I may disclose in upcoming books, for your information. However, for blogging you may want to channel, refrain, and touchup a few things. For example, cursing, religious direction, politics, and other controversy. I am not saying don’t be yourself, however, present in a way that is mindful unless you just don’t give a ____ (you know the rest)!

Respect Privacy
In the beginning I occasionally gave a shout out to frequent commentators; in agreement, acknowledging, etc. Despite the love, I later realized I put undue pressure on them. Therefore, appreciate frequent commentators, but don’t put them on the spot!

Depending on the blog topic, you may want to hide the “following” section that links back to readers profile pages. I removed the following section because I wanted to further respect my readers by not putting their readership picks on blast and understanding that my blog can be taboo for a lot of families and individuals, and I don’t have any regrets about leaving it off.

By the way, never forget that you are the boss; any advertisements, colors, pictures, etc. is a part of your signature and style, don't let my list override you!-just consider it. Lastly, do add to the list. Do state your reasoning for disagreement. And do share your blog!!!

Prevent Your Diagnosis from Becoming A Deal-breaker: Therapy Starts The Conversation on Disclosure

How did you disclose your diagnosis? Did your condition build a closer bond, or become a deal-breaker? There are many reasons for disclosure in relationships. Disclosing can be uncomfortable, however, it gets better. Disclosing my diagnosis is a choice, which is also an opportunity to share one of my greatest vulnerabilities, and powerful testimonies.

Generally, disclosure enhances my relationship with my friend and partner. My experience disclosing has become easier, and easier, over the course of recovery since age 20. Now age 32, I have enough experience to provide helpful insight to peers as an advocate, friend, and partner in a relationship.

My schizoaffective disorder, which combines bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia, is manageable. However, my mental health concerns demand a lot of attention. A common symptom is  mood swings. Having moody persons in my life is frustrating, because based on their mood they may either engage, disconnect, or create confusion based on poor communication, and unknown emotions that include triggers. Unfortunately, my diagnosis makes me more susceptible to having mood swings, which is annoying, but also a way of life, which demands coping skills to better manage.

Triggers are acts, or events, which stir reactions and consequences. Generally, my symptoms may  become triggered by stressful situations such as financial concerns, disagreements, and unexpected setbacks, or major problems, losses, and crisis. However, stress, triggers, and moodiness is a part of life! Yet, I do not have to settle.

When I feel triggered it disrupts my mood, and creates concerns. I manage my diagnosis with support from my treatment team, therapist, and support system, or friends and family.

In the beginning I needed guidance on ways to disclose. I addressed these concerns in therapy. Disclosing my diagnosis requires awareness, opportunity, and desire to take relationship further. I learn more about my diagnosis by articulating concerns in therapy. However, educating others on how my diagnosis effects me is an important factor in disclosure. Whenever I disclose I understand this process incorporates question and answer, stigma-busting, and education about how triggers effect my symptoms and outcomes.

Therefore, I aim to build self-awareness, practice self-care, and request additional support. First, I need support as an individual in recovery. My symptoms can be hard to detect, because they effect my mood and thoughts. My therapist helps me stay aware and accountable as does my support system.

A great reason for my disclosure is to capture warning signs that symptoms are becoming concerning. In the past, my moodiness alerted friends and partner. I am still learning how to better manage symptoms. If my friend or partner were unaware of my diagnosis these symptoms would become a significant problem for relationships.

Another reason for disclosure is to support a lasting relationship, and prevent my diagnosis from becoming a deal-breaker. Therefore, educating my partner about my diagnosis is a must for me, which I learned how to articulate.

In other words, my needs in relationships include: disclosure to support my recovery, and for understanding of my challenges, in order, to have room for imperfection, and to grow in the relationship. Relationship requires effort to function in unison smoothly. My relationships work better when I disclose.

I learned the benefits of disclosure from experience. However, as mentioned disclosure can be uncomfortable, and demands awareness and opportunity. To learn how to disclose a peer may engage in therapy for tips as I did, or get first-hand knowledge from peers. Some peers, caregivers (or care-partners) do not have access to these resources. Fortunately, the internet is creating access for people where traditional therapy (in-person) sessions did not work, but online therapy may be an option.

Therapy engages peers and care-partners for the wellness of the relationship. After an individual gains tools to interact, educate, and to disclose the next part of the process is timing, which varies. As we know, a lot of people do not want to disclose for various reasons that include: stigma, negative stereotypes, and fear of rejection, or another deal-breaker. I choose to disclose sooner than later to minimize rejection, and to focus on persons who are willing to explore my challenges, and get to know me for me.

For peers and partners therapy may be a great way to learn more about the diagnosis, oneself, and how to engage the relationship in a healthier manner. Enjoy the people in our lives, because life is stressful, and having a supportive friend, and partner can make recovery, and life, a little better and happier! Lastly, here is a read that may enhance your relationship:

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Blog Book-Writing Workshop - 1 MAR 2019

A Portion Of Proceeds Go To NAMI Georgia - National Alliance On Mental Illness

Contact Ashley for Details on $10 Discount for Workshop, TODAY.

Living with Schizophrenia Documentary- Ashley (Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Non-Branded Education, 2011)

Here is a glimpse of my recovery story, which Janssen Pharmaceuticals, (Johnson & Johnson) filmed in 2011. This is a documentary titled: Living with Schizophrenia: A Call for Hope and Recovery, is about three peers in recovery, as well as professionals, and caregivers. To learn more about my recovery story, purchase my book, What's On My Mind? on Amazon. My book is a collection of blog entries from my personal blog, Overcoming Schizophrenia (2008). 

I am an advocate for mental health through my blog, and Self-Discovery Pain, Positioning, & Purpose, Inc. (SD-PPP). I serve on the Executive Board. SD-PPP provides awareness on mental illness, bullying, and suicide prevention. Self-Discovery Pain, Positioning, & Purpose, Inc. will have our 2019 International Mental Health Tour coming to a city near you!

I am also advocate with NAMI Georgia. NAMI is National Alliance on Mental Illness, which was founded in 1979,and is a national grassroots non-profit organization. NAMI Georgia offers a range of support groups that are open to the community. NAMI Georgia is a great organization, because we are advocates for mental health, and awareness with focus on recovery and the many faces of mental illness. I am a former board member for NAMI Georgia (2012-2014), and state trainer for In Our Own Voice (IOOV). IOOV is a lived experience presentation by peers in recovery. To learn more about NAMI Georgia visit their website: 

Finally, I will facilitate a blog book-writing workshop at NAMI Georgia's office in Atlanta. My blog book-writing workshop is Friday, March 1, from 9 to 11 am, cost: $60. This workshop will guide individuals on blogging, and creating a blog book! Your blog book is a gift to our readers.

Read more about my recovery story in my book, What's On My Mind? (Amazon). Support Self-Discovery, Pain, Positioning, & Purpose, Inc. 2019 International Mental Health Tour, and NAMI Georgia's annual conference. Lastly, attend my blog book-writing workshop through my new book coaching business, EMM Enterprise, LLC. Embracing My Mind Is Creating! Thank you, Overcoming Schizophrenia readers! Much love, Ashley 

The Role of the Therapist

The therapist upholds much in my relationship with recovery, which is a lifestyle. My therapist helps in diverse ways such as holding me a...