Dads & Depression: The Recap

“…in some ways, depression made me a better soldier.” ~ Dad & Depression attendee On  Saturday, June 24, 2017, Speak Away the Stigma held it’s first event, Dads & Depression.  It was held at the Cumberland County Public Library, downtown Fayetteville, NC.  Three mental health professionals were invited to speak and educate the attendees on how depression looks differently in men vs. women, coping skills … Continue reading Dads & Depression: The Recap

“Mental Health Advocacy is my life’s work.” ~ Dr. Cindy T. Graham

  Why did I choose mental health? My decision to become a psychologist began with my love for fashion design. I know, I know…the two don’t seem to go together. Well, as long as I can remember I wanted to pursue a career in the fashion industry. Since I stopped growing at 5’4” tall at 10 years old, my dream of becoming a model was … Continue reading “Mental Health Advocacy is my life’s work.” ~ Dr. Cindy T. Graham

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!”

The BEST Ways to be Happy in 2015!

Happiness in 2015

1. Let go of expectations– A lot of times we don’t do something or ask for something because we believe that we know what the result will be.  How many of us say “Oh I know what he/she will say” or “I already know how this meeting will go”? None of us have a crystal ball, so we don’t know for certain how something will play out.  Remember, the answer will always be NO if you don’t ask and you will NEVER have what you want if you don’t at least try!

2.  Get Support and a Support System– As much as some of us (yes me included) hate asking for help, we all need it at some point.  Asking for help is not a sign of weakness.  It’s interesting that most people who hate asking for help, are the first ones to offer help to others.  Let other’s help you, it makes them feel good to do so.  Also, asking others for help maintains your support system.  Keep in contact with people, no matter if they are near or far, you don’t want to only reach out to someone when you need something.

3.  SWEAT!– Although this can be found on every “new year, new you” list, it is for a good reason.  A good workout does wonders for the mind and body. It has been proven that endorphins are released when you workout, and they help fight stress.  After a good workout your may feel physically tired, but mentally the weight of the day is gone!

4.  Change & Adapt– We are creatures of habit, and the most difficult thing can be  adapting to change.  As our environment changes, we should too.  There is so much that is out of our control, the one thing we can control is how we respond and adjust to the changes that happen around us.  Be open to change, you’ll see it’s not so bad.

5.  Respect YOUR Own Privacy– In this age of social media it is very easy to “over-share”.  Be mindful with what you share because you are sharing  it with the WORLD!  It is OK to wait to make announcements, or not to make any at all.  Letting associates, or even strangers in on your life isn’t a requirement.  People can be judgmental, there is no need to worry about what strangers or old friends from high school or college think.  Only certain people truly care about the ups and downs of your life, and it’s OK to only share and celebrate certain moments with those people. Continue reading “The BEST Ways to be Happy in 2015!”

NAMI Walks Atlanta 2014

On Saturday November 1 NAMI Walks Atlanta took  place in Piedmont Park, in Atlanta, GA.  Speak Away the Stigma formed a team and solicited donations.  A BIG THANK YOU to Qiana Leonard, Futuera Patterson, & Tiffany Waits for walking with me and supporting an organization I support.  We solicited donations, and I am proud to say that our team goal was $500.00, but we raised … Continue reading NAMI Walks Atlanta 2014

surviving schizophrenia

At about the age of 13 I found out my mother’s diagnosis, it was Schizophrenia. I was reading through some court papers, that I wasn’t supposed to have  been reading, and saw it: “…… has been diagnosed with Paranoid Schizophrenia”. I can’t recall exactly how I felt reading it, but I do know I was a bit relived.  For the past 5-6 years I knew my mom wasn’t OK, but I didn’t know what was wrong with her.  I didn’t know why she always heard voices, I didn’t know why she would get so angry when we told her we didn’t see the things that she saw.  I didn’t know why my mother didn’t hug us or tell us that she loved us.  I didn’t understand why she thought the breakfast we made for her on mother’s day, had poison or spit in it.

No one talked to us about why my mom was in and out of the hospital, every couple of years. No one in my family told me my mother had Schizophrenia, I read it in court papers.  Whenever I had a chance , I would try to find out more information about the illness, but at my age I didn’t understand what I read, so I just stopped.  I just accepted that is what my mother had, and to me, she was uncaring, unstable, irresponsible, and angry. 

Despite my feelings, I was always grateful for the values she instilled in us at a young age.  During the years, when her recovery periods were short, we were able to still take care of ourselves.  We knew how to get ourselves off to school, cook for ourselves and do our school work to maintain good grades.  I credit that not only to my mother, but also to my grandparents, and the grace of God.  It would be almost two decades before I would be able to separate the symptoms of the  illness from my mom.  She was not the illness.  She was just the opposite.  During her periods of her recovery, she was a different woman, and I had to learn to remember the confident, hard-working, big-hearted, loving, smart, and somewhat stubborn woman she will always be. Continue reading