Her name was Jane

Do not give your past the power to define your future.”~ Unknown

I only remember her face, not her name, so  I will call her Jane.  She looked like a Jane. When I first met Jane she greeted me with a glimpse of a smile; that would be the most emotion she ever showed me.  I would be OK with that because Jane changed my world.

The afternoon I first met Jane, I left work early.  We had a 5:30 pm appointment, and I didn’t want to be late. I wasn’t thrilled to meet Jane, I was very reluctant and nervous, however, I wanted to respect her time so I didn’t want to be late.  It was a sunny fall afternoon, and I took the 20-minute drive in silence, that’s how I knew I was really nervous.  The drive entire I wondered what she looked liked.  We spoke briefly on the phone, but I could not begin to assign her facial features based on our short conversation.

I arrived at the address, parked, and stayed in my car.  I was about 10 minutes early and sat there for nine minutes before getting out of the car.  I was nervous.  I didn’t know what to expect.  I wasn’t completely sure why I was even doing this.  I wasn’t sure what I’d say to Jane, or what she would say to me.  I felt so uncertain in this moment, but I was here so I had to at least meet Jane.  Right?

I found the door, it was red.  The blinds in the window looked a little tattered.  I immediately thought this was a mistake, because, well her blinds were tattered.  Yes, I judge people based on how the blinds look from their window.  I always have and probably always will.  I rang the bell and I waited.  I rang the bell again  and waited.  I was growing impatient with Jane and her tattered blinds.  I rang the bell one more time, and she opened the door right away.  She was old.  Her face was soft yet wrinkled and her hair was gray and frizzy, somehow the tattered blinds fit.  She invited me in, and I stood staring at this older lady with old hair and an old face, thinking THIS is my therapist? Continue reading “Her name was Jane”

Are we ignoring mental illness? 

Mental illness is an equal-opportunity illness.  Every one of us is impacted by mental illness.  One in five adults are dealing with this illness, and many are not seeking help because the stigma prevents that.~ Margaret Larson

Depression.  Anxiety.  ADHD.  BiPolar.  These are some common words were use or hear almost daily in our conversations, on the news, or on our favorite television shows.

We are hearing more about the importance of mental wellness, and self-care.

We see the green awareness ribbons and read the stories about our veterans’ suicide and PTSD rates.

We are hearing and seeing more and more about mental illness, mental health, and mental wellness more than ever before, but what are we doing with this information?  According to a report by Mental Health America (MHA), a non profit organization, Americans are not getting the treatment they need.  Many people may immediately say that there is a lack of access to the help they need, however the report’s findings disagree with that.  The report entitled “The State of Mental Health in America” gives facts, statistics and other data on mental health from across the United States.  The report also list the best and the worst states for mental health care, and Connecticut is at the top and Nevada is at the bottom.  Even though Vermont is the 3rd best state, 43% of adults that have been diagnosed with a mental illness did not receive treatment.  This number is just under the national average because 56%
of Americans with a mental illness did not receive treatment despite there being more access to insurance and access to treatment. Continue reading “Are we ignoring mental illness? “

I Am Solid She’s Cupcakes & Conversations: The October Edition

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Cupcakes & Conversations in an event in support of  I Am Solid She’s campaign: “Breaking Barriers to Silence Stigma…One Conversation at a Time”.  The goal of this campaign is “to encourage open dialogue about mental health which creates a platform for women to share stories, information, and empowerment through conversation.

The most recent Cupcakes & Conversation was held this past Saturday, October 22, 2016, at the Myers Park Wellness Center in Charlotte, NC.  The topic:  Silently Suffering…Can You Hear My Cry?”  The guest speaker was Dr. Arloishia Israel, and she spoke with total transparency about living with a chronic illness and how that led to her depression.  Dr. Israel discussed how at she had to accept that she had Rheumatoid Arthritis in her THIRTIES!!  She as well as many other people only know older people to diagnosed with this condition, so she had her husband began to educate others, beginning with their own family. Everyone seemed to appreciate the transparency with which Dr. Israel spoke, because it is not common to hear such honesty when discussing mental health or chronic illnesses, especially  in the Black community.  The attendees were also educated on how chronic illnesses can lead to depression and that depression often occurs in cancer, Parkinson’s and heart attack patients.  Often times people are so focused on the physical healing that little to no thought is given to the mental well-being.  One word that this therapist, wife, mother, sister and daughter had to learn to use was “No” and it wasn’t easy.  Dr. Israel shared moments when her hands were extremely swollen  or when she wasn’t able to stand up long enough to sing one song in church, people still continued to ask so much of her.  She discussed how she had to set boundaries and prioritize because if she didn’t she would not have the energy to put into her own well-being.  Through medication, a therapist, the support of her family and prayer Dr. Israel is doing much better and although she still battles with RA she was able to stand in heels and share her story!  The comments and questions from the attendees’ showed that many were deeply impacted by Dr. Israel’s story.   Continue reading “I Am Solid She’s Cupcakes & Conversations: The October Edition”

@KrisNichole Celebrates Her Life Anniversary!

The Pain.   God Saving Me.  Me walking to become the me GOD had planned

When you first look at these pictures of  Kris you may see a beautiful young Black woman.  In speaking to Kris, you will sense she is sweet, intelligent and kind.  What you won’t see are the scars that are healing, from several suicide attempts. (Yes there were several)  Kris had been diagnosed with depression, sever panic attacks and anxiety.  She has been admitted to what she refers to as a “Psych Prison.” Dealing with all of the things that life can throw at us is difficult.  Dealing with all of these things while suffering in silence with mental illness can take a toll on even the strongest person. On August 11, 2011 there was another suicide attempt, however after this one Kris made a decision to fight and fight Continue reading “@KrisNichole Celebrates Her Life Anniversary!”

3 Signs It’s Time To See a Therapist

The was originally written in 2014, and posted on a personal blog.  Kara of  The Frugal Feminista came across the post on Twitter and shared it on her site.  This is one post I will continue to share because the question of ‘should I see a therapist?’ is one that continues to be asked. The energy of the mind is the essence of life~Aristotle     … Continue reading 3 Signs It’s Time To See a Therapist

Dignity & Mental Health; Why awareness matters!

I wrote this last year for  The Frugal Feminista, but I felt it was important to share again.  Saturday,  October 10 was World Mental Health Day and this year’s theme was Dignity and Mental Health.

Dignity is defined as “the state or quality of being worthy of honor or respect”, and one of the least respected groups of people in our society are those who have been diagnosed with a serious mental illness.  They are often the butt of jokes and we believe that we should be afraid of them.  They are pushed into a corner and not discussed until a tragedy happens.  Although mental illness affects 1 in 5 Americans, it is still one of the least discussed and underfunded health issues, especially in minority communities.

Words like “crazy”, “psychotic”, and  “lunatic” are often used to describe people that have been diagnosed with a mental illness.   Many people do not know that serious mental illness is the result of a chemical imbalance in the brain.  Just like any other major organ can become defective, so can the brain.  Sometimes this imbalance is due to biological factors, sometimes due to environmental factors.  Can you imagine forever labeling someone as “lazy and undisciplined”  that had a heart attack as a result of bad eating habits and lack of exercise?  No matter what the cause of the illness, the fact remains that members of our society that have become ill.  We often sympathize and hope to cure lung cancer, even for the person that smoked a pack a day for 20 years, however when it comes to the person with paranoid schizophrenia we want to lock them up throw away the key.  The ability to empathize and support those with cancer, heart disease and even some mental illnesses such as Alzheimer’s came from being made aware of these illnesses-the who, what, & whys.  It was because of knowledge, understanding and maybe personal experiences that we all came to know about the dangers of breast cancer and heart disease.  Let’s begin to increase our knowledge of mental illnesses. Continue reading “Dignity & Mental Health; Why awareness matters!”

An Open Letter to Parents

Parents are the ultimate role models for children.  Every word movement and action has an effect.  No other person or outside force has a greater influence on a child than a parent. ~Bob Keeshan

Dear Parents (mom, dads, and those who take on the role),

You have the pleasure of having one of the most important jobs, you’re a parent.

You are your child’s first teacher, friend, and confidant.  

Your children have changed your life ways you never imagined.

Your children have shown you the true definition of unconditional love.

Parents did you know that your child could have a mental illness, by as early as 14-years old.  According to the National Institute on Mental Health, “…half of all lifetime cases of mental illness begin by age 14.”  If an illness has an onset at 14 years old, it is highly likely that a diagnosis will come years later.  The symptoms of a mental illness may be difficult to notice for 3 reasons:

  1. They are teenagers!  This is a time when your child’s body and brain goes through so many changes.  Puberty brings not only physical changes but emotional changes as well.  Ask almost any parent that has a child that has been diagnosed with a mental illness and they will tell you that they thought their child was just acting out, or that they would grow of the behavior.  
  2.   Parents don’t know what they don’t know.  Often parents do not know the history of mental illness in their own family and are unaware of the early symptoms.  We may think that since children are resilient that they are immune to trauma, they are not.  Many parents are unaware that mental illnesses has an affect the brain, and there is no amount of punishment, spanking, talking to or prayer  that can change that.  
  3.   Mental illness carries a stigma.  The stigma of mental illness is so great that many refuse to believe that their child could be ill. It is natural that any parent would not their child to face discrimination and be shunned by friends and family.  There is also a natural fear that they will be shunned because they have a child w/a mental illness.

Continue reading “An Open Letter to Parents”

Mama has “the blues”? The Carmichael Show gets serious about depression

Many families share the good, the bad and the ugly with each other, especially spouses.  But how do often do spouses speak about their mental health?  Some moms and daughters and sons and fathers are best friends, but would they open up about being depressed?  In this week’s episode of The Carmichael Show, Cynthia, the wife, and mother (Loretta Devine) is caught crying while she is … Continue reading Mama has “the blues”? The Carmichael Show gets serious about depression