How are you?

WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU ASKED SOMEONE HOW THEY WERE DOING? DID YOU GENUINELY MEAN IT? DID YOU TAKE THE TIME TO LISTEN?

Many may not realize that in the moments of battling a mental illness (or any illness), these three words can make a huge impact on the day of the minds like ours (yes, I had to throw that in there). One year ago I made a commitment to myself to be sure to ask those around me how they are doing, at least one person – every.single.day. Strangers, friends, family members, and coworkers. However, it’s important to not only ask the question but to mean it genuinely. LISTEN. Watch their body language, their facial expressions, their words, their tone. It says it all.

The reactions I receive when asking this question are somewhat surprising to me. In my personal experience, the responses go one of two ways:

The first and most common reaction go something like this: Good, thanks. – Simple and quick.

The other reaction I also find common is: I did this and this today, I’ve been really busy. – Thinking I asked them what they did today or what they are currently doing, not realizing that I just asked how they are feeling.

Nowadays, a lot of conversations are unfortunately in the form of texting, and social media has taken over to show off to the world how crappy or happy we are, therefore, many won’t ask how others are truly feeling, they think they can see and understand it all through technology. OR, we are wrapped up in our own lives that we don’t take the time to ask others how THEY are feeling (I’ve been there!), OR maybe we feel as though expressing our feelings is a sign of weakness or burdensome to others (It’s really not). Either way, the question, “How are you?” is often used in passing, yet not being taken serious enough, in my opinion.

DON’T BE AFRAID TO PICK UP THE PHONE AND ASK SOMEONE HOW THEY ARE DOING.

The reason why I say this is because, as someone who lives with a mental health condition and has faced many difficult times, including the feeling of being completely alone – I really just needed someone to ask me to how I was doing in a deep way that made me feel as though they genuinely cared. This past week I have experienced a lot of emotional and physical pain. I believe some people could tell. I have voiced my feelings to a few, but not one person has genuinely asked me how I was doing…until today. My sister. Gahh – I love her sweet heart. She must have sensed something all the way from Texas because out of the blue I received a message asking me if I’m okay. It immediately put a smile on my face. (Thank you, sis!)

A couple weeks ago about 300 people were laid off from our company due to closed facilities. It was a difficult time for everyone was affected by it. One of the gentlemen that were given an end date with the company sat near me and although we were not close I still wanted to ensure he was okay. I went into his office and asked him how he was doing. His response went something like this, Oh you know – trying to get my tasks done today, I’m swamped.

I responded with, “Okay, let me ask again. HOW ARE YOU? Are you doing okay?”

The look on his face was a look of shock as though he had never heard the question before. He sat back in his chair and said, “I’m stressed out. I don’t know what I’m going to do. I have options, but I need to think about which option I will take. It’s sad. Thank you so much for asking.” I sensed appreciation in his tone after our heartfelt conversation.

You see, when someone you know is in a hospital bed bleeding or with other signs of a visible injury or illness, people will run to their bedside in panic or worry asking with sincerity if they are okay. What about our invisible illnesses?

Last year, my mentee was admitted to the psychiatric hospital for self-harm. She was 15 years old. I had spent many days with her, picking her up from school, having her over for sleepovers and movie nights, and enjoyed weekends exploring and going to the movies. She was such a bright young girl, and I loved bonding with her. I received a phone call from her mother one evening stating that she was “contemplating” on taking her daughter to the hospital. I immediately advised that she admit her or I would. She needed help and was apparently suffering. I asked her mom for the information of which hospital she was admitted to, and her mom responded in shock, “Why?”. I said, “because I am going to visit her. I can meet you there if you’d like?”

The point of my short story is that her mother never showed up to visit. From my understanding, she never even called her. Her daughter was in the hospital for 5 days. When I appeared at the hospital to visit her, this young girl was completely shocked and cried as she grabbed onto me. I asked her why she was crying and she told me, she had never had a visitor before (it wasn’t her first attempt). In fact, most of her roommates hadn’t either. We sat in her room, and I listened to her talk for a couple hours. I gave her the best advice I could about coping skills and reassured her that she wasn’t alone. I learned so much that day, especially the importance of empathy.
Did you know about 8.3 million people have had suicidal thoughts in the past year? It is important to reach out and ask others how they are doing. You could save a life with one simple question and take the time to listen, and when you do, remember this:

THEIR FEELINGS ARE THEIR FEELINGS. THEY MATTER. THEY ARE VALID AND ACCURATE TO THEM. DO NOT DISMISS, DISAGREE OR TELL THEM THEY SHOULDN’T FEEL THE WAY THEY DO.

This is so important to understand. This goes for all circumstances, not just hurting people with a mental illness. For everyone.

I’ll end it with this – How are YOU doing? Respond below or email me if you need someone to talk to. Help is always out there.

-Minds Like Ours, Kayla Fae

100 Things I Learned In Recovery

Here are 100 things I learned in recovery 

  1. My passion for Mental Health
  2. Mental illness doesn’t define us
  3. Self-Reliance
  4. It’s okay to not be okay
  5. There are no good or bad emotions, but there are good and bad ways of expressing emotions.
  6. Resiliency
  7. Self-Compassion is a priority
  8. Self-Awareness is key
  9. Coping skills that best work for me
  10. We don’t owe anyone an explanation for self-care.
  11. Beauty lives in our differences
  12. Dialectical Behavior Therapy
  13. Mindfulness
  14. The more I loved myself – the more I fell in love with my kids
  15. Not to feel guilty for self-care
  16. Patience and understanding for othersLove Yourself
  17. Recovery comes first
  18. How to stand up for myself and fight against stigma
  19. Things will always work out – do not give up
  20. We are not broken, weak or worthless
  21. It’s never too late to become the person you want to be
  22. The present moment is all you ever have
  23. Who my true friends are
  24. My story has helped make a difference
  25. Internal vs. external Locus of Control
  26. I found myself more at peace
  27. I am Brave
  28. Courageousness
  29. I’m an introvert and value my alone time
  30. To let go of my past mistakes; they do not define me
  31. I am emotionally intelligent
  32. Gained more self-esteem
  33. Judgments are a confession of character
  34. Happiness is found within
  35. Self-Confidence is the best outfit; fucking own it
  36. Mental Illness is nothing to be ashamed of
  37. Self-love is the most important love
  38. I am a stronger and healthier mother to my two kids
  39. Without the dark and stormy days, we can’t learn to appreciate the good days
  40. The Minds Like Ours are beautiful
  41. Our feelings are valid; don’t justify them or seek approval – they are YOUR feelings.
  42. Our behavior is driven by our emotions
  43. Helping others makes me feel good – we rise by lifting others
  44. Your worth is not defined by someone loving or not loving you
  45. My worst days in recovery are by far better than the best days in my manic episodes
  46. A bad day doesn’t equal a bad life
  47. The words, “Fuck it” do come in handy every once in a while.
  48. You are not a burden
  49. You have to learn to love yourself before you can fully love someone else.
  50. Do not be afraid to walk away from toxic relationships/friendships
  51. Embrace the sadness
  52. It’s okay to be different
  53. Be patient with yourself
  54. Recovery isn’t strictly about being “happy”, it is about learning to become whole.
  55. The bad things people say about you are actually reflections of what they think of themselves, not you.
  56. I am unique
  57. Ultimately it’s only your opinion of yourself that matters. Do what makes YOU happy.
  58. The art of meaningful conversations
  59. Stigma’s three components are: Stereotyping, Prejudice, and Discrimination
  60. EMDR therapy
  61. Step outside your comfort zone – you might actually have fun
  62. You are worth much more than you think
  63. It all starts with willingness
  64. I am a fighter, survivor and a warrior – so are you
  65. Be acutely aware of your thoughts
  66. No, we can’t just fucking “Get over it”
  67. Good things take timerecovery123
  68. Expect nothing – appreciate everything
  69. How beautiful it is to be alive
  70. How to live less out of habit and more out of intent
  71. We are the directors of our own mindset
  72. Strength
  73. Life’s a bitch sometimes
  74. Mental illness is not a choice, but RECOVERY is
  75. If you make friends with yourself, you will never be alone
  76. I no longer want to compete with anyone but myself – I hope we all make it
  77. Hold on to hope
  78. Owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing that we will ever do
  79. How not to lose myself in the process of loving someone else
  80. How to magnify your strengths, not your weaknesses
  81. We can’t fix ourselves by breaking someone else
  82. My appreciation for music
  83. We are exactly where we need to be
  84. BREATHEEEE!
  85. Protect yourself with ADA
  86. How to maintain a balanced life – parenting, career and education
  87. I am emotionally sensitive- my emotions are more intense than the average person and that’s ok
  88. Face your fears – It’s fucking liberating!
  89. Be gentle with yourself
  90. Your time is important – spend it on things you are passionate about
  91. Make time for yourself
  92. The part you play is sacred – you are priceless
  93. How to manage impulsiveness
  94. See the value in our stories
  95. Trust your intuition
  96. Everyone carries a piece of the puzzle; start a conversation
  97. Your speed in recovery doesn’t matter; forward is forward
  98. Life gives you challenges that you can overcome; be strong
  99. Emotional awareness means recognizing, respecting and accepting your feelings as they happen.
  100. How to discover who I truly am; gained a huge sense of self.

Taking Back My Narrative

I’ve done things at the age of 23 that I’m not proud of. I’ve had horrible names written on bathroom stalls about me, the whispering, the shit talking, people looking directly into my eyes asking me how I can show my face in public, some family members and friends have bullied me on Facebook and stopped inviting me around. Someone harassed me for months stalking my every move making me feel unsafe to walk to my car alone, texting me from four different untraceable phone numbers a day, knowing what I was wearing and what my plans were every day and even talking about my children.

I was, at a time, left feeling completely alone wanting to end my life. To top it all off, during this time trying to seek help through therapy I was diagnosed with a mental illness that I was suffering with for years prior and the stigma associated with it didn’t help, people called me “crazy”, some people didn’t believe me, or said it’s just made up for attention.

The lack of support, compassion, and empathy from others at a time I was at my lowest was awful. I made mistakes, we all have but nobody deserves to be bullied online or offline. You have no idea what internal battles people are facing. It can take just one person, or in my case, two little people, to help keep us moving forward. Please be kind to others.

It has taken me time and effort to accept the truth that my story is unparalleled and powerful. It has taken me time to finally forgive myself, to stand up for myself and to take back my narrative and to realize that I play a necessary character in the narrative of those around me, as do you.  This is my story, I’m not ashamed to share it.

Please take a moment to watch Monica’s TED talk below. “It’s time. It’s time to take back my narrative.”

Fear

fighting fear

How do you manage your fear going through everyday life?

Face it and embrace it. My biggest fear was being alone, doing things alone, going places alone. I hated the idea of it, made me sick to my stomach. I always had boyfriends because of it, I “needed” someone all the time. But then I started hating the idea of not doing things I wanted or going places I wanted to go to because I was alone. Six months ago I broke up with my boyfriend, to be single and alone. It was terrifying for me to face it but I love a good challenge and I had hope that I could overcome my fear. People do it all the time, so why can’t I? I’m braver than some people I know, so of course I could do it. I took baby steps from that point forward. Instead of traveling the world all alone, I thought it would be wise to sit in a restaurant by myself first, then go to some new place local by myself, then started traveling out of town by myself, getting a hotel by myself and the list just keeps getting better and better. Six months in and I can honestly say I no longer have a fear of being alone. There is nothing lonely about being alone. Embrace your fears, face them and learn to love them, if possible.

Anger

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How do you deal with anger in a positive manner?
As a mental health advocate, I always say, “Take something negative and turn it into something positive.” I have a temper sometimes, it used to be really bad but I have managed to change my perspective and start thinking more positively. I used to think that feeling anger was a bad thing, mainly because my dad was always angry and I hated it. It’s not bad thing, It’s okay to be angry, to feel anger. It’s how you handle that anger that can determine if it’s good or bad. When someone lies to me, I feel angry. That is normal. How I react on that anger could affect myself, my kids and others around me. When I get angry, the first and most important thing I do is try to think rationally. I tell myself that I’m aware I’m feeling angry. Once I’m aware of my feelings or emotions, it’s easier for me to control them. I used to be the type of person to react on my anger before rationally thinking about why I’m angry and how I can change it or make the situation better. Taking a deep breath, going for a ten minute walk, listening to music are things that will calm me down. Once I am calm, it is easier to review the situation and communicate in a clear and positive manner. Don’t let anger consume you or ruin your day, try to focus on the positive.

Stressors

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What are your stressors?

As a single mom, I have a few stressors in my life. My top stressor would be finances, as it is for most people. I have one income and two kids, I work full-time and pay for; full-time day care, food, housing and school activities. This in turn puts a lot of pressure on me at work to ensure I continue to work hard, and move up in the company so I can provide more for me and my wonderful kids. I’m not only a single mom and a full-time employee but I’m also a student. When my kids go to bed, that is usually my time to focus on school and homework. If you couldn’t tell already, I have a full plate and this at times can cause me to stress out if I don’t stay organize and stick with a strict routine. When I get stressed out, I take a break. My mental health is just as important if not more than my education, family and career. I’m aware of these daily stressors so it is easier for me to control them. There are other kinds of stressors that are out of my control like my kids getting sick, or unexpected and unfortunate events or situations that arise. Either way, it’s important to take a break; 10 minutes, two hours, or even a day if needed. Breathe, and do something for yourself to clear your head to help you through the tough, stressful times.

World Suicide Prevention Day

WELCOME TO MIDNIGHT. WELCOME TO WORLD SUICIDE PREVENTION DAY.

Posted on: 9 September 2014
By: Jamie Tworkowski

“Welcome to Midnight. That’s what we say when the ball drops and a new year begins. I like that moment because beyond the fireworks and resolutions, beyond the kisses and celebration, is the quiet hope that something can be new. That it’s possible to leave the past behind and start again. There’s nothing extra special on television tonight, no clapping crowd in Times Square, no parade scheduled for the morning. But this midnight means World Suicide Prevention Day, and we would like to think this day can be significant. Not because the world needs another holiday, and not because we need a stage to stand on. We believe in World Suicide Prevention Day for the same reasons we love New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. Because perhaps it’s possible to change. Perhaps it’s possible to start again. Perhaps it’s possible for things to be new. We know that change takes more than a moment, and we aren’t saying it will be easy, but we’re saying that it’s worth it. This life. This night. Your story. Your pain. Your hope. It matters. All of it matters. You’re loved. You matter to this world and you matter to the people who love you. So stay. Please stay. No one else can play your part.”

TWLOHA

Self-Care Isn’t Selfish

SELF-CARE ISN’T SELFISH

  • Posted on: 25 August 2014
  • By: Tiffany Keesey

“You know those moments where someone perfectly puts words to something you’ve been feeling but haven’t named?

That moment happened for me when I was sitting in the conference room at Invisible Children three years ago and a guest speaker was talking about insecurity. It wasn’t even his main point, but I will never forget when he off-handedly said, “You can’t invest in others if you don’t invest in yourself.”

It struck me. It felt as if he had just given me permission to embrace something that I had felt stirring within me. At that point, I had been working for the organization for 5 years, and I was exhausted. I loved my job and the organization, believed in the mission, and was surrounded by the most incredible community, but I was worn down. I couldn’t understand why I felt continually tired and overwhelmed when I knew I was doing the job I was supposed to be doing.

And here’s what it came down to: I was putting myself last. The tendency in the nonprofit world is to always put the cause above ourselves. It’s easy to forget to prioritize self-care when you are doing something you feel is more important. I had been working crazy hours and pouring most of my energy into my job, and I was doing it without putting much thought into what was fueling me.

I know this is not just true in the nonprofit world. My friends that are new parents struggle to find any time for themselves when their kids demand all their attention, and students are taught to achieve in order to get into college or to land a good job, often forgetting to take care of themselves. Somehow, as a culture, we’ve come to view rest as weakness and self-care as selfish and unnecessary.

None of that is wrong. Working for a cause, working hard in school, and being there for your child are all wonderful things. But I believe it is time for a shift in our mentality. When we take time for ourselves, when we prioritize balance, and when we cultivate other interests, we are better for it.

Studies show that we are 20 percent more productive when we work from a happy state of mind, as opposed to a negative, stressed, or even neutral state. When we are energized, we are equipped to tackle the game-changing tasks instead of just checking our inbox. We’re better prepared to solve problems, to overcome obstacles, to make the hard decisions, and to innovate.

Every now and then, let’s trade practicality for play and work for balance. Think of it as preparation for the next season in life where your life or your family or your job demands a lot from you. You need to be your best in those times. You need to show up. So, for now, let’s free ourselves of the guilt of having to always be busy because busyness just masquerades as productivity.

It doesn’t need to be overwhelming. Here’s where you can start:

1. Go back to the basics. Feed your mind and body with nutritious food. Stay hydrated and get enough sleep. Get outside for a few minutes if you’re stuck in an office all day. Be active, even if that just means choosing the stairs over the elevator.

2. Incorporate a daily ritual. We all can find an extra 15 minutes a day to invest into ourselves, whether that means waking up a little earlier, cutting out some wasted time at work, or getting off Instagram for a little bit. Begin or end your day with something that energizes you – maybe it’s journaling, taking a brisk walk, reading poetry, practicing yoga, or just making coffee and letting your mind be still.

3. Find time to cultivate larger interests outside of work. If you don’t know where to start, go back to what you loved when you were young. If you were a bookworm like me, join a book club. If you miss sports, join a kickball league. These activities remind us who we are.

4. Learn how to say no. This was the hardest thing for me, as a recovering people pleaser living with FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out). I challenge you to think of your time to recharge as sacred. Put it on your calendar if you need to, and don’t allow it to get pushed to the bottom of your priority list.

Repeat after me: I will be a better [student / friend / leader / spouse / professional / parent] if I take care of myself.

Great. Now go be amazing.”

To Write Love On Her Arms

twloha.com

RI Week #2: Life Consists of Trivialities

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“Life consists of trivialities and very little else. If you think of what you worry about, it’s trivialities. Whether you should buy a certain item or not. Whether you should buy it now or wait until the price goes down.  Should you spend money on unnecessary things  or should you save the money? These are trivialities, average happenings.

The average person deals constantly with average happenings, with trivialities. You eat, you sleep, you walk, you go to school, you see friends, you talk on the phone.  That takes up 90 percent of your day, if not 98 percent. Life consists of trivialities mainly. How often does a father die? Once in a lifetime. That’s not a common, average, trivial event. How often does somebody in the family get married, or somebody get born? How often does your house burn down? Whatever you call a big item happens rarely.

These trivialities of everyday life create responses in you. You either don’t notice them because they don’t interest you, or they cheer you because they please you, or they anger you, or scare you. Even the simplest triviality can scare or anger you. In the life of a parent, the fact that a baby cries is a triviality. A thousand things that the baby does are trivialities, but a mother may work herself up over each of these trivialities. The closer a relation is, the more trivialities can irritate, frustrate, anger and scare you.

Trivialities crowd your life, but any one of them may arouse your anger, your fear, your disgust, or your terror. I want you to learn how to deal with trivialities, not to get upset by trivialities. You must learn to handle the trivialities of daily life without temper. If you wish to be trained in this system, be prepared to listen to nothing but trivialities. That’s life.

Life is to get angry at a person who doesn’t look at you, or a person who stares at you, a person who talks too much, or a person who doesn’t talk at all. That’s life. It is also to eat a bad meal or a good meal. If you eat a bad meal, you feel anger. If you eat a good meal, they you feel enjoyment. That’s life. Utterly trivial. ”

 

Wow- If I hear the word trivialities one more time…. haha. To be honest, I get so worked up over the simplest things in everyday life. Being late for work, rushing home to pick up the kids, get upset at the kids for thrashing the house, getting upset with myself if I don’t get the dishes done after dinner. All of these things, ten years from now, I probably wont even remember. So why get worked up over it? Think about it. Lets gain some grateful perspective and enjoy everyday life. 🙂

 

Good group today, it was nice to hear and share stories. Until next week…