Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Regaining Control in Response to Early Warning Signs and Symptoms

I discovered how to regain control of my recovery by redirecting the focus onto stress management techniques. Initially, I was diagnosed with schizophrenia, however, my symptoms presented those which resemble both bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. Specifically, my symptoms included: mania, anxiety, depression, delusions, paranoia, and hallucinations, etc. Accordingly, my diagnosis became schizoaffective disorder. Managing the mania is an ongoing battle for me.

    Reflecting on my past behaviors, especially shifts in my mood and symptoms, I created a blueprint on how to rejuvenate and get back on top of life. In this blog article, I will list seven early warning signs to be mindful of. Moreover, I will discuss methods which I personally use to fight back against the odds. However, I am not promising complete healing and avoidance of relapse, but I am simply sharing the tools that I utilize to maintain my health goals.

    Whenever I exhibit certain signs and symptoms I try to recycle my wellness tools. Here are 7 early warning signs:

1. Shifts in sleeping patterns. For me, not getting adequate sleep could lead to elevated moods or mania. Yet, excessive sleep could indicate a steady decline into my depression.

2. Excessive texting. A strong indication that I am manic occurs when I reach out to people in my circle of influence and beyond with excessive texting to check-in, catch up, and to share thoughts, etc.

3. A surge in thoughts. Occasionally, my mind races with ideas that demand a lot of attention, but I cannot activate the plans because my mind cannot to focus on multiple projects at once.

4. Misunderstood. When those closest to me tell me they can't follow my train of thought or are confused by my line of thinking I reflect on these conversations after the fact, and consider analyzing my stress level in order to address it.

5. A buildup of stress. Life is stressful, however, I recognize that I can be hyper-sensitive to everyday stressors. Examples of daily stressors is managing traffic and being late, bills and financial obligations, and also disagreements with family and friends. Overtime these stressors buildup and wear me down by interfering with my memory, feeling like there's ongoing pressure on my mind and body, and thus, triggering my lack of patience and producing irritability. 

6. A disrupted routine. I discovered that I manage well with a self-care routine. I have a wide variety of habits that helps me stay balanced such as writing in my journal, and prayer and meditation. When I lose consistency in my daily routine I could tell I need to concentrate on my wellness. 

7. A pileup of house chores. Whenever I notice how uncomfortable or unmanageable areas of my space becomes I start to realize that I need to regroup and redirect my attention onto my basic self-care needs. Not to say that my home is tidy or spotless, however, there are degrees of tolerance or intolerance to messiness such as an overfilled trashcan that just sits and I seem to work with it. 


    However, accepting a rigorous call to action can disrupt the downward spiral. Here are 7 stress reduction strategies to maintain wellness:

1. Walking. Walking has always created stress relief whether around my neighborhood, in the park, or gym, because I can clear my thoughts.

2. Therapy. When I feel overwhelmed I schedule an appointment with my therapist and come to the session with an agenda or list of stressors to discuss and resolve.

3. Medication. Even though I understand this may not work for all of my peers, it works for me. Occasionally, I ask for an adjustment to my medication dosage and discuss additional options with my doctor. 

4. Cleaning. When I am anxious I focus on performing house chores. Cleaning takes a level of concentration to organize and rearrange stuff. It helps me clear my mind. Afterwards, I feel relieved and enjoy the atmosphere.

5. Rest. This is a huge stress management technique because resting rejuvenates the body. When I get enough sleep I can utilize my energy to work on other areas of my life.

6. Projects. Sometimes I create new projects to exercise my creativity and to stay busy.

7. Prayer. My prayers manifest clarity. I say my prayers aloud and remember to be grateful for what I have. 


    I share my experience so that it may empower others to relate and enhance coping strategies to manage similar challenges. Therefore, I encourage my peers to observe and accept individual warning signs and symptoms in order to address them. 

    I've experienced two psychotic breaks over the last 14 years, and I have more mental battles to overcome. I believe that another breakdown is inevitable for me, because of the uncertainty in dealing with a brain disorder. I understand I am not immune to another psychotic break. Still, I strive to master stress management skills every day to control what I can. My goal is to defeat my condition by getting back up after every breakdown by utilizing my wide range of coping tools, my faith, and hope that I can manage to bounce back. 

    I must be clear that mental illness is a very serious condition that stress management techniques may not always be able to resolve due to the severity of the condition. In fact, I advise every individual living with a mental health condition to discuss treatment options and a crisis plan with their healthcare professional. 

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

How to Overcome Disappointments by Redirecting Your Focus

Living with a mental health condition is very challenging. As an individual living with schizoaffective disorder I must be mindful of my stressors, thoughts, and social needs. Setbacks are disappointing, but they are a part of life. For instance, having a hospitalization, getting rejected, being discriminated against, experiencing self-doubt, and coping with disappointments that lead to changes can be stressful. 

    Most people will not understand individuals with mental health concerns because of varying perceptions on the symptoms. Moreover, widespread misconceptions drives fear, lack of education, and discrimination, that perpetuates barriers to socialization, treatment, and understanding. It is imperative for us to develop alternative skills to maneuver and manage the difficult times. I encourage peers to focus on confidence-building activities, which I will share. Also my tips will help people who do not have a diagnosis. Here, I will focus on 7 habits, which will help you develop self-validation and improve your mental health.

1) Concentrate on reciting affirmations and reassuring statements. This is one of my most powerful habits because this activity creates excitement and hope. Life is full of ups and downs, therefore, it is important to motivate yourself to press onward.  Reciting affirmations rejuvenates your ability to hold on to hope. Stating positive thoughts and objectives aloud or writing them down will manifest inner-strength and belief in one's ability to move forward. I identify as spiritual and believe that words can dictate the energy and develop into a reality. Therefore, I encourage you to say uplifting things. For me, I might repeat the following statements: “I have the spirit of strength on me today. I am bold. I master resiliency.” “I welcome the spirit of love. I give and receive love. I will embrace love by focusing on loving gestures today.” “This is only for a season. I have support. I am an overcomer. I am fierce. I have power over my reactions and I can get through this.”

2) Meditate on your higher power. Redirecting thoughts onto the power that oversees your well-being, and has a greater influence on life events, will help restore a sense of peace. I encourage you to develop comfort through your belief system. What stories solidify your beliefs and connects you? Which religious or spiritual sayings can you recall that resonates with you and propels you to keep going?

3) Embrace your support system. It is imperative that you surround yourself with empathetic persons who want to see you do well. When in doubt reach out to that individual who acknowledges your efforts and strengths to help you persevere. In the past, I leaned on a wide variety of cheerleaders or supporters that went beyond my family. The people that helped me stay motivated to get back on track included: coworkers, neighbors, roommates, family and friends, etc.

4) Seek counseling. Exploring situations with counselors may provide reassurance. I advocate for therapy because it helps identify solutions everyday problems and stressors. The sessions focus on coping strategies. For me, I brainstorm ways to work through daily stressors with my therapist that is on relationships, financial priorities, or simply acknowledging my options, which I did not see before. The therapist can equip you with resources and skills to help you improve your situation.

5) Create a positive atmosphere. I enjoy producing positive vibes. Sometimes I buy myself flowers, greeting cards, and candles to create a comfortable environment. Frequently, I set the tone by listening to different music that speaks to my vibes.

6) Reflect and release burdens. Sometimes I write to let go of my stresses or stay active. I record my things to do list and journal about challenges. Other times I focus on organizing and cleaning my home because it helps me think clearly. I walk to regain physical energy and to also help prioritize ideas and needs. 

7) Bring your attention to positive messages. Listening to enlightening messages when you wake up can help you stay focused throughout the day. I study motivational speakers and recall their messages of hope as the day progresses. 

    Over the years, we have endured a lot. Still, we are learning how to manage and overcome situations. I encourage you to continue to practice those lifestyle habits that work well for you. However, consider some of these tips to add to your daily routine in order to get through the day. 

    Again, incorporate some of these habits to overcome life's disappointments. 1) Concentrate on reciting affirmations and reassuring statements. 2) Meditate on your higher power. 3) Embrace your support system. 4) Seek counseling. 5) Create a positive atmosphere. 6) Reflect and release burdens. 7) Bring your attention to positive messages. Living with a mental health condition can create disappointing experiences, however, how you cope is more important. Lastly, focus on reassurance by developing those practices that builds the stamina in your confidence to get needs met and to continue to persevere through life's challenges. 

Monday, February 1, 2021

Recovery - The Process of Staying in Your Good Place

I define recovery as staying in a good space. But what does that mean? How can an individual cope with the internal conflicts of self-doubt and symptoms let alone the external battles with discrimination—in the workplace, housing, and barriers to treatment? Moreover, the universal unspoken code of widespread fears and social ostracizing. My ability to endure, cope, and to keep pressing forward demands that I relentlessly challenge the mind wars through my recovery tools. 

    Most people do not understand what it's like to live with a mental health condition, but they can testify that resiliency is a part of the human experience. Naturally we rediscover ways to bounce back from heartbreak, unemployment, and feelings of hopelessness. Yet, the choice to practice healthy strategies to persevere or destructive methods to get by is on us. Quick fixes are fleeting moments of relief which eventually leads to more problems. However, going through the process to develop creative solutions to complex problems enables us to gain balance, confidence, and the strength to overcome. Self-help groups such as Narcotics Anonymous or Alcoholics Anonymous are examples of the power in the process to manage recovery and life. 

    People like me (individuals living with a diagnosis) have to produce alternative ways to cope. Coping tools may include: making art, playing music, participating in therapy, exercising, engaging in community service, getting and giving peer support, articulating recovery stories, mastering hobbies and skills, etc. Still, how can we stay in a good place to overcome mind wars? What does recovery look like? Recovery is unique—we must remember that and take ownership of our coping weapons to live well.

    I choose to focus on confidence-building techniques to maintain wellness. Yes, recovery is about doing those things that supports wellness, but also incorporates self-healing. During my last hospitalization I focused on creating a positive atmosphere. I did what I can with what I had. I would sing lullabies to myself as if I were singing to my child. I played spades with peers. I walked around the courtyard. I reflected on stories from the Bible, recited affirmations, requested a journal to write my thoughts, and prayed for my wellness and reunion with family. To have a good day I encourage myself. 

    Now I light white candles while I worship my higher power. I say my prayers aloud to talk to The One as if I were discussing concerns in my mind. I listen to motivational speakers almost every single morning to remind myself of my potential. My potential to develop skills. My potential to be a better individual. My potential to maintain wellness. 

    Because mental illness is a severe medical condition I work diligently to manage resources in order to take control of my health. I strive to keep my doctor appointments. I take my medication as prescribed. I create the agenda for discussion with my therapist, and journal daily to reflect on stressors and also resolutions. Recently, I joined the gym to get toned, energy, and stress relief. I do these things to manifest wellness. I do these things to stay balanced. I do these things to stay in my good place because my recovery demands it. I conquer my mind wars of self-doubt, symptoms, and self-stigma by focusing on the process of self-empowerment and healing. 

    Finally, recovery is the process of staying in your good space. Recovery is about self-care, self-empowerment, and sticking to your health plan. Will you choose the short-cut to wellness, or commit to the process? Your unique recovery demands much. It requires your strength and courage to manage. What works for you? What things can you do to encourage yourself? Have you made this a part of your routine? What tools will you use to create your recovery atmosphere?

Regaining Control in Response to Early Warning Signs and Symptoms

I discovered how to regain control of my recovery by redirecting the focus onto stress management techniques. Initially, I was diagnosed wit...