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.

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

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I recently concluded my first ground campus course with University of Phoenix in Sacramento, CA this week. It was one of my biggest fears to be in a classroom setting. I faced that fear head on and overcame it almost immediately. It was an awesome and by far the best learning experience for me. I met some fun people, an incredible instructor and learned more than I ever did during online classes.

For those of you who do not know, I am working towards earning my Bachelors degree in Psychology for this is my true passion; mental health. My first course was an elective course and I wasn’t all that thrilled about taking Sociology – Cultural Diversity. I didn’t think I would get anything mental health related out of the course, but let me tell you!!! I learned A LOT about mental health in this class. I was pleasantly surprised. Not only was my first presentation {since high school} on mental health but as someone who has a mental health condition, I gained a lot of insight and resources that will help me tremendously in the workplace and in school.

Not only did I learn about discrimination in the workplace {as I currently am experiencing} but I learned about how to apply for protection with the ADA, not just for work but for school as well. For those of you who do not know about the ADA, or are being discriminated because of your mental health condition, read up. This is helpful.

What is ADA? 
Americans with Disability Act also known as ADA, was enacted in 1990 and prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities and guarantees that people with disabilities have the same opportunities as everyone else.
– ADA applies to all employers with 15 or more staff members.
– Requires reasonable accommodation if needed in order to perform essential job functions.
– The ADA is enforced by a federal government agency, the EEOC (US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission).
_____________________________________________________________________________
TO QUALIFY FOR PROTECTION UNDER THE ADA, the law states that you must identify that you have a disability.
What is considered a disability?
ADA defines a disability as a physical or mental impairment which substantially limits a major life activity. This includes having a history or record of such impairment or a person perceived by others as having such an impairment. Some of these activities may include:
– Caring for oneself
– Seeing
– Hearing
– Eating
– Sleeping
– Walking
– Standing
– Concentrating
– Communicating
– And learning
The two most Important things I personally want in my work place are 1. to be treated fairly and given the same opportunities as everyone else and 2. to have flexibility to focus on self care and recovery when needed.
The ADA can give that to every individual with a disability.
If someone has faced discrimination within the last 180 days in their workplace, they can contact the EEOC and file a complaint here.
It took me 7 years to finally complete my Associates Degree in Business, SEVEN. I struggled mentally for years on top of my personal and financial hardships. I wanted to give up so many times, but I LOVE to learn. I was always eager to learn and grow no matter how hard it was for me. I always knew that school shouldn’t have been that difficult for me, but it was and majority of it had to do with my mental health condition. It’s okay to ask for help and protect yourself in situations like this. If only I had known about the ADA and how it could protect me in school- giving me more flexibility and understanding with my assignments, I probably would have graduated a lot sooner.
KNOWLEDGE IS POWER!! I will be creating a page on my blog, titled EDUCATION, where I will be sharing anything mental health related based on what I learn in this program. Stay tuned.
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“I Jumped Off the Golden Gate Bridge”

I found this amazing story about a man, named Kevin Hines, that shared his story with mental illness and a suicide attempt. He was one of few survivors to have jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge and lived to tell his story.

I love how he made a point to say he felt like a burden. I don’t think that people who don’t have a mental illness understand that piece of it. Recovery is possible and this man is living proof.

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

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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.

Heavy and Light

I drove to Los Angeles by myself to attend Heavy and Light, To Write Love On Her Arms. It was by far an incredible experience.
I stood in a room full of stories, music and other people that have suffered or struggled like I have.
I overcame a fear, I learned a lot, and I can honestly say how proud I am of myself to have come this far.

Growing up as a teenager, I was scared to be alone, and go places alone. I thought the word “alone” meant “lonely”. Only until the last few years have I learned that there is a major difference between the two. After having two kids, one at the age of 18 and the other at 21 and my husband working swing shift every night, it taught me to grow up. I had to learn to live in our house alone, go to sleep alone, I had to learn how to cook and take care of the kids and the house when he wasn’t home. I was terrified in the beginning, we just bought a brand new house when I was 20 years old, it was about 45 minutes away from family, in a town in the middle of nowhere. I remember the first few weeks I would call the cops every time I heard a noise. It was awful, I had never been alone, I didn’t know what to do.

On January 15th of this month, I made the decision to drive by myself to L.A. and visit the House of Blues for the Heavy and Light show by To Write Love On Her Arms. I got my own hotel, walked around L.A. by myself, went to the show, then the next morning I took a drive to Santa Monica (I’ve never been there before) and walked along the ocean and had a nice lunch to myself on the pier. The weather was 75 and sunny, couldn’t have picked a better time to go. It was the most empowering experience I’ve ever had. I had moments of anxiety, but I pushed forward and did something I had always wanted to do. A lot of people told me, “Wow I could never do that, I could never travel somewhere alone.” It made me feel proud, and brave. I did it and the best part was, I can’t wait to do it again. Below are some pictures of my trip. 🙂

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13 Things To Remember When Life Gets Rough | Article

13 Things to Remember When Life Gets Rough

on 26 July, 2014 at 19:32

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By: Carol Morgan, Life hack | We’ve all gone through hard times. And we all get through them. However, some get through them better than others. So what is their secret? Most of it has to do with attitude. Here are 13 things to remember when life gets rough:

1. What is, is. Buddha’s famous saying tells us: “It is your resistance to ‘what is’ that causes your suffering.” Think about that for a minute. It means that our suffering only occurs when we resist how things are. If you can change something, then take action! Change it! But if you can’t change it, then you have two choices: (1) either accept it and let go of the negativity, or (2) make yourself miserable by obsessing over it.

2. It’s only a problem if you think it’s a problem. Many times, we are our own worst enemy. Happiness is really dependent on perspective. If you think something is a problem, then your thoughts and emotions will be negative. But if you think it’s something you can learn from, then suddenly, it’s not a problem anymore.

3. If you want things to change, you need to start with changing yourself. Your outer world is a reflection of your inner world. Don’t you know people whose lives are chaotic and stressful? And isn’t that largely because they feel chaotic inside? Yes, it is. We like to think that changing our circumstances will change us. But we have it backwards—we need to change ourselves first before our circumstances will change.

4. There is no such thing as failure—only learning opportunities. You should just wipe the word “failure” right out of your vocabulary. All great people who have ever achieved anything have “failed” over and over. In fact, I think it was Thomas Edison who said something like, “I did not fail at inventing the light bulb, I just first found 99 ways that it didn’t work.” Take your so-called “failures” and learn something from them. Learn how to do it better next time.

5. If you don’t get something you want, it just means something better is coming. That’s hard to believe sometimes, I know. But it’s true. Usually, when you look back at your life, you will be able to see why it was actually a good thing that something didn’t work out. Maybe the job you didn’t get would have made you spend more time away from your family, but the job you did get was more flexible. Just have faith that everything happens exactly the way it’s supposed to.

6. Appreciate the present moment. This moment will never come again. And there is always something precious about every moment. So don’t let it pass you by! Soon it will just be a memory. Even moments that don’t seem happy can be looked upon as something that you might miss someday. As the country song by Trace Adkins says, “You’re gonna miss this…you’re gonna want this back. You’re gonna wish these days hadn’t gone by so fast….you may not know this now, but you’re gonna miss this…”

7. Let go of desire. Most people live with “attached mind.” What this means is that they attach themselves to a desire, and when they don’t get it, their emotions plummet into negativity. Instead, try to practice “detached mind.” That means that when you want something, you will still be happy whether you get it or not. Your emotions remain happy or neutral.

8. Understand and be grateful for your fears. Fear can be a great teacher. And overcoming fears can also make you feel victorious. For example, when I was in college, I feared public speaking (one of the top 3 fears of all humans). So I find it humorous now that not only do I speak in front of a group every day by being a college professor, I also teach public speaking! Overcoming fears just takes practice. Fear is really just an illusion. It’s optional.

9. Allow yourself to experience joy. Believe it or not, I know way too many people who don’t allow themselves to have fun. And they don’t even know how to be happy. Some people are actually addicted to their problems and the chaos in them so much that they wouldn’t even know who they are without them. So try to allow yourself to be happy! Even if it’s just for a small moment, it’s important to focus on joy, not your hardships.

10. Don’t compare yourself to other people. But if you do compare yourself, compare yourself with people who have it worse than you. Unemployed? Be grateful that you live in a country that gives unemployment compensation, because most people in the world live on less that $750 a year. So you don’t look like Angelina Jolie? Well, I bet there are more people who don’t than do. And you are probably way better looking than than you think. Focus on that.

11. You are not a victim. You need to get out of your own way. You are only a “victim” of your own thoughts, words and actions. No one “does” something to you. You are the creator of your own experience. Take personal responsibility and realize that you can get out of your hard times. You just need to start with changing your thoughts and actions. Abandon your victim mentality and become victorious. From victim to VICTOR!

12. Things can—and do—change. “And this too shall pass” is one of my favorite sayings. When we are stuck in a bad situation, we think that there is no way out. We think nothing will ever change. But guess what? It will! Nothing is permanent except death. So get out of the habit of thinking that things will always be this way. They won’t. But you do need to take some sort of action for things to change. It won’t magically happen all on its own.

13. Anything is possible. Miracles happen every day. Really—they do. I wish I had enough space to write about all the miraculous things that have happened to people I know—from healing stage 4 cancer naturally to having their soul mate appear out of nowhere. Trust me: it happens all the time. You just need to believe it does. Once you do, you have won the battle.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Carol Morgan has a Ph.D. in communication and is a professor at Wright State University. She is also the host of ‘A Walk on the WOO Side’ radio show, a motivational expert on the TV show ‘Living Dayton,’ video expert for eHow.com, keynote speaker, and a member of Inspiyr.com’s Expert Network. You can subscribe to her blog, get some life/relationship coaching from her, and check out her books at http://www.drcarolmorgan.com.