Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Catch It. Check It. Change It.

Nobody enjoys the feeling of being on edge, and anxious... Anxious for the reply about the business deal. Anxious for the update on your loved one’s health. Anxious for confirmation of the loan approval, etc. We have all been there.

Recently, I felt anxious. However, my anxiousness could easily manifest into mania, a condition that perpetuates excessive energy. It was subtle at first. I brainstormed a few plans, and focused on different approaches to execute the agenda. I began to minimize my sleep to work on the plan. This load of ideas transitioned into over-thinking and indecisiveness. My anxiety built momentum to the extent that I had to check myself. I started to redirect my focus to develop patience. I did not want to experience mania at its worst, and produce negative outcomes.

I began to be mindful of my sleeping pattern and diet. I was making a conscious effort to maintain better self-care. I reached out to a couple of people without reply. In response to the over-excitement I focused on relaxing my mind. I practiced a lot of coping skills. I walked around my neighborhood to clear my thoughts. I listened to soothing music to ease my mind. I also completed house chores to concentrate on easy tasks, and to stay productive. However, my mind was still racing. Therefore, I tried to rest. Thankfully, my friend called.

Finally, I felt much better. Fortunately, my coping skills worked. I won the battle and my anxiety did not spiral out of control into extreme highs of mania. In other words, I caught it, checked it, and changed it. I learned about “Catch It. Check It. Change It,” in the certified peer specialist (CPS) training a few years ago. A CPS is a peer with a diagnosis who models recovery and offers peer support to encourage others. Now I feel more confident about my ability to fight symptoms by catching the warning signs, and applying my coping techniques.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Parenting With Mental Illness and Crisis

Living in recovery is challenging, however, it is a part of life for many individuals. Mental illness is more common than not. People with mental health conditions also parent. Despite mental health crisis peers can still manage recovery, and family.

I am a lived experience expert on schizophrenia. I persevered through a range of issues related to my diagnosis. I have been in recovery for a few years, and experienced a lot, such as the severe schizophrenia-related symptoms, court-ordered hospitalization, housing discrimination, and projected stereotypes. Still, I work on myself, job, and parenting skills. I am a mother of one. My child is seven years old.

Mental illness is a problematic medical condition, but it can be managed with adequate support, treatment, and coping skills. I engage in therapy and traditional treatment, or medication, to help maintain wellness. I practice a lot of coping skills to manage daily. For example, I walk every day, journal, and listen to music among other coping skills. I also rely on my support network, treatment team, and daily coping tools to get through small trials, and crisis. Last year [2018], I was hospitalized. This was my second hospitalization, which occurred 11 years after my diagnosis. 

This crisis created significant challenges for my family. Fortunately, I have a strong support system. My family made adjustments to help me manage through the crisis. Everybody pitched in to help me maneuver the hospital setting, and system. They temporarily took on parenting responsibilities, and carried out communication demands with certain people with my input.

I am grateful for the hospitalization, and for my family. I was able to focus on recuperating, maintaining a relationship with my son, and keeping my household responsibilities in place through them. For example, my cousin primarily took care of my son while I was away. My relatives and friends supported my cousin throughout this time-frame. While my caregiver stayed in communication with everybody, including my treatment team.

When I returned home I maintained communication, and support. I focused wholeheartedly on recuperating. I participated in intense therapy sessions over the next few weeks with emphasis on stress management, and self-care. In short, I managed resiliency through my support system, and determination to activate all the coping skills I learned in the past. Therefore, I wrote a lot in my journal, and prayed over my stability.

As a result of persevering my hospitalization, and crisis, I was able to avoid another major setback. Earlier this year I took a mini-break, and focused on minimizing stress. I felt overwhelmed, therefore, I communicated needs with my family. We orchestrated a plan to have my child cared for while I regrouped away from home. I stayed in a respite center for almost a week. 

In Georgia, we have peer-led respite centers located throughout the state. It is a community-oriented place to interact with peers in recovery, and focus on wellness. I engaged peers in group activities, and got a lot of rest. When I returned home, I maintained communication, and support to regain balance.

These incidents are ways I managed crisis, and avoided another setback. With my family's support I was able to seek treatment, maintain my mommy role, and keep pressing forward in recovery. Through these experiences I learned how important a support system can be in overcoming crisis. My support system includes my doctor, therapist, family, and friends. Together we kept me well, and I was able to carry out decision making demands, and still uphold a level of independence, and self-sufficiently. 

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...