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.****

How to Cope with Dark Seasons

I aim to empower those affected by mental illness. However, the truth about recovery is there will be many dark seasons. Still, I hope peopl...