Its Been Awhile

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Transparency and Honesty Time:

I know its been awhile since I’ve Written but as we all have encountered, life continues to move forward and often we get thrown off course a few times. My life lately has taken me places that I do not like to be and its been very difficult for me to find the motivation to write. It has brought me back to a few of my dark places that I thought I have gotten passed and forgotten. It has tested me over and over again, trying to break my spirit, influence my way of thinking, and has brought out emotions I do not enjoy dealing with. The heads of depression and anxiety has been having an all out party, dancing so much that it had affected my health. In all honesty, the negative forces and powers that be have been trying to break me. With all of the chaos, I had to take a break from almost everything. I had to regroup and give myself time to process and be still.

My mother has always told me at a young age “You cannot save the world and you are no good to anyone else if you are not right with you”. Often times, as a lot of woman tend to do, we carry everyone’s load. I think it sometimes has to do with it being easier to decipher, and fix everyone else’s experiences or take care of everyone else, that we neglect ourselves and fail to carry, decipher, and take care of our own stuff. It’s easier to analyze, advise, and give feedback to others instead of listening to our voice within ourselves about ourselves. I will tell you from an on going experience for myself, I refuse to live this way any longer. When living this way, I find that I am living for others and through others experiences and not my own which can be very draining.

My hope for myself is to live a fruitful, peaceful, and amazing life. The burdens that are brought to me by others are not my burden to bare. It does not mean that I will not support and love unconditionally, yet it means I will not care the burden for anyone.  I will lift  up in prayer, lend an ear, encourage and hold their hand while they figure it out. There will be no judgment in the process but I will be truthful.

The other thing that I have been dealing with is acceptance. Not from someone else but acceptance of myself in all aspects. Even though I have moments that portray confidence, its sometime difficult for me to accept my power, my beauty, my greatness. I am my own worst critic and sometimes what others see, I don’t. I got pulled to the side by my step mother the other day and preceded to lecture me about one of my videos that was posted on social media. In the video my hair is natural and I had my mini afro and in the video I started apologizing about the look of it. She proceed to tell me “Never apologize for your hair or anything else, you are beautiful!!”. At the time of filming the video, I didn’t realize what I was doing but she was quick to point it out to me.  For many years, I was criticized for the way I looked, the things I did or said and it has stuck with me to some degree. Later that night, I thought about what my step mother said and many others have told me about myself and I felt what she was saying. Its one thing to hear it, its another thing to feel it. I will no longer give others (past or present) that power, especially in words, over my life. I will not allow self-doubt into my thought process. I will continue to give my self positive affirmations and understand the importance of them. I will not apologize for who I am, all that I am doing, and becoming. I am who I am, flaws, greatness and all.

My hope is that if anyone is dealing with any of the things I am/have dealt with to know you are not alone. Life is what you make it, give yourself time to regroup, know what the expectations for life are as well as expectations for yourself. If people, places, or things are not meeting your expectations, you must evaluate and know when to let it go. Know that it will not be easy, know that sometime you may struggle but you will figure it out. Forgive yourself, give yourself credit and continue to move forward.

 

Be Well,

Essence

I’m Taking It One Day At A Time

a-level-of-self-love-life-quotes-sayings-picturesIt has been a somewhat of a difficult week for me, for life happened. Between trying to stay afloat at work, maintaining my household, putting time, love, and effort into my communities, families, and friends with projects, events, and beyond, all this while trying to find time for myself and keeping my mental issues under control has been exhausting in every sense of the word. I think one of the biggest obstacles I deal with the most, is dealing with self doubt and not recognizing the great things in my life or how far I have come. Sometimes, its the minor set backs that I focus on so much, that I don’t spend as much time focusing on the goodness in my life and the goodness I have put out to the world. If I have one person that has a negative opinion of me, my work or one thing and I have 100 people that are positive or I have succeeded in multiple tasks or goals, I will focus on that one person or thing that is  negative. I know a lot of it has to do with my anxiety, for when it hits, I tend to obsess over certain things more than others. This is the part of anxiety that I dislike the most and I am continuously working on every single day.  Everyday is a struggle but for the most part, I have been able to deal with things, yet this week has been a whirlwind. I have said “If it ain’t one thing, its another”, several times which I have always tried to refrain from saying. Yet, one thing about me is I am a fighter and I was determine to find a way to decompress and find different ways to stop my mind from racing, diminish self doubt, and show myself more love than I have been.

As much as I journal, write positive affirmations and keep them around me, I decided to do something a little different. I am a visual person, I have always worked better in taking in things when I see it. So, I decided to start making videos for myself, reminding myself of why self love is so important and recapping the accomplishments that I have done for the week. Even something as simple as staying coffee free, working out, making a new dish, I record myself a video message to remind myself of the positive things in my life. I love watching inspiration videos from others, yet it is a little different when it is coming from the person you should love the most…YOU. Its like a video positivity jar that I can always go back, review, hear, and see all of the things you have accomplished. I even got my son involved so that he understands the importance of loving yourself even at a young age.

Speaking of my son, I think that is the biggest thing that I have to keep in mind is whatever I do and all that I do, my baby is watching, good, bad, or indifferent, so I must always ask myself, what am I exposing my son to? At his age, he is very influenced and impressionable, so whatever I am saying or doing, he is seeing it with a fresh pair of eyes and ears which are like sponges. I have to be a great example for him and make sure that I am putting positive energy for not only my sake but for his as well.

Lastly, I had to remind myself that change does not happen overnight and I must take it one day at a time. I must remind myself that I have a lot to give to the world and at the end of the day, if no one shows up for me, I must show up for myself. While giving happiness, I deserve happiness as well, but there must be an understanding that as much as I want to give to the world, I must give to myself first. I say it to people all the time, love yourself first, yet I can be honest with you all and myself, that it is easier said than done, for I may not always do.

With each day I take, I must be thankful and grateful, trust myself and the path the God has set fourth for me.  I cannot be in fear of the unknown, I cannot allow negative thoughts, words, or feeling interfere with my destiny.

Be Well,

Essence

 

The Power of Words

fb_img_1476371261936When we said things to someone, about someone, speak of our thoughts out loud or even read words,  we don’t realize the effect those words can have on our lives and things around us. The power of words has been around since the beginning of time and there is proof of that. In the bible it reads “Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” For example, think back to a time when a person may have said a “not so nice” thing about you and how it made you feel. Not so great right? You either were angry, hurt, emotional or all three. Or lets look at it from a positive perspective, think of a time you were complimented by someone and how that made you feel. Bottom line is, words effect people. Words have an impact on us as well as the world we live in.  It most definitely can effect your mental health, energy, and sometimes how we feel about ourselves.

Negative words

We all have heard the saying “If you don’t have nothing nice to say, don’t say it at all”, right? We need to take heed to that. When we speak or think negative things out loud, we are speaking negativity into existence. Now, don’t get me wrong, it doesn’t necessarily mean that things are going to happen as you said it will but we are constantly manifesting. Each thought we have creates an energy flow within and around our physical beings. This energy attracts its likeness. If you are putting negative energy out there, you are attracting negative energy and experiences as well. With the saying above, it holds so true. Yet, its not just about being forgiven but not forgotten when it comes to others. Keep in mind, the universe is ALWAYS listening.

Positive words and Affirmations 

When those negative thoughts try to creep into your psyche, counter it with positive words. One technique that I learned from a sister/friend Ms. Johnson, is writing positive affirmations on sticky notes or a white board and putting them all around your environment no matter where you may be. In your bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, office, even in your car, ANYWHERE. By doing this, it is a constant reminder of all of your positive qualities and the awesomeness about yourself. Some things you can write are”I am Strong”, “I am Beautiful”, “I am Talented”, “I am awesome” just to name a few. As you see your positive affirmations, your confidence will increase, your happiness will increase, and the negative thoughts will decrease.

Another thing you can do is develop a dream board for yourself or make a life to do list. It is a way to speak your dreams and desires into existence. You can use pictures, quotes, articles, drawings and paste or tack them on a cork board or poster board. As you are making your dream board, know that nothing is too crazy or out there, it is your board. As you look at your dream board, you will begin to brainstorm when and how to check things off your dream list. It will encourage to do more for yourself and challenge you to achieve your dreams. You will find that as many things that you are completing on your dream board or life to do list, you will be adding just as many. What you will also notice that it will encourage yourself to become a doer, not a dreamer. You will push yourself more, enjoy the things that you want to do and get more out of your life.

We all need to be aware of our words and our thoughts. We need to choose and use our words wisely for we do not want to allow our words to tear down what we have worked so hard for, each other.

“Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer.” Psalm 19:14

 

Be Well,

Essence

 

 

The Questions

14265030_1456379507712652_6334437554391823999_nIt is amazing how things happen in you life at certain times. Yesterday, I found myself in yet another encounter with a “not so good day”. I found myself feeling empty, worried, and simply just not myself. I reached out to my best friend telling her how I was exhausted from just….feeling. It wasn’t something that could be explain and even if I did, I felt that it would be difficult for others to understand. As she was giving me advice and words of wisdom as she so often does, something popped up on my newsfeed that caught my attention immediately. It was a story on Oprah.com entitled “13 Questions You need to Stop Obsessing Over” by Martha Beck. Now, I read things very often, but for whatever reason, something told me that this is something I need to read.  Out of the 13 questions, I found that I often ask myself, God, and the universe close to half of the questions.

1)What’s Wrong with me?: I tend to get frustrated with myself for feeling that way that I feel. I try to stay positive no matter what is thrown my way. I always try to not allow negative thoughts, words, or energy enter into my life. Yet lately, I find myself feeling defeated, worrying often, and a in a pool of sadness. My energy level is null and void, I feel withdrawn and drained. Once I recognize it, I try to do things to “fix” it or change it. Yet, the article stated that “…many of us constantly ask this question without realizing that doing so centers our attention on our most negative attributes-and focusing attention on anything is certain to make it grow”. Meaning, the more this question is asked, the more the negative aspects that you focus on will continue and get bigger.  I may begin with the “What’s wrong with me” as a question and eventually that question can turn into “Something is wrong with me” statement which is very unhealthy.

2)When will my ship come in?: Beck states, “Compulsively asking when they’ll (good things) arrive drives them away.” Instead “Identify what you want, do what you can to create it and then distract yourself.” When you allow things to follow as it needs to, it will happen. It may not happen on your time but it happens on time. With this question, I have gotten better of not asking but it tends to pop up from time to time.

3)How can I maintain control: This is something that I have always had a difficult time with. It is difficult for me to let things be at times and accept people and things for who they are.  She basically states that you cannot completely control your situation, anything can happen. What you can ask is “How can I respond harmoniously, and as gracefully as possible, respond to whatever occurs?” You may not control what happens but you have a say so over your response.

4) How do I get back at my enemies?: With this question, for me, is not how do I will get back at those that have ever hurt me yet it is more of how can they hurt just as much as they hurt me? Beck states by doing this is like “locking yourself in a cell with those very people (who hurt you), except that you’re the only one who suffers”. She says instead, start listening and appreciate those people who benefit you in some way. That way instead of focusing on the hurt and pain someone may have caused, gratitude and kindness will set in.

5)Am I good enough?: Sometimes, I get frustrated with myself for the decisions and mistakes that I have made in my life. The “I should have know better so I could have done better” syndrome sets in. There are many like myself that struggle with being too hard on ourselves and insecurities. Beck states that “You are absolutely perfect at being yourself, and nothing in creation can ever do better that that.” In Gods eyes, we are all perfect. No person, place, or thing will ever change that.

After reading the article, I decided I needed to have a serious talk with God. Not to ask for anything, but to thank him and to let him know I understand. Often, we tend to pray when things are not going well or when we are in need of something. Me being who I am, I have to give thanks for everything, and pray often regardless of what point I am in my life, good time and bad.

Right after prayer, A song that I had never hear came on entitled, “I’m Coming Out” by Jonathan McReynolds (Check it out on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qkQx6DLZ2Xg ). The chorus goes  “I’m coming out, it wasn’t meant for me to stay here long and be content with living wrong, No, I’m coming out, God will get the glory out my life, I’ll get it right this time, I’m coming out”. The song in itself is beautiful, but the message throughout is everything that I was feeling. As I’m listening, tears stream down myself, not of sadness but of joy. Although I still have a lot of work to do. Yet, I knew my messages, prayers, thoughts, feelings, cries were heard.

 

Be well,

Essence

 

 

 

Returning Guest Writer: Kamisha G. Johnson, LGSW

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Illustration by: Kiara Illustrations

 

To wrap up Suicide Awareness Month, I have invited Kamisha Johnson back to inform us about the severity, realness, and seriousness about Suicide, especially in communities of color. It can no longer be ignored or swept under the rug. We need to recognize the signs and do what we can to save ourselves and each other. Thank You Kamisha!

 

“The Seriousness of Suicide & Stigma amongst the African American Community”

“Black people don’t commit suicide.” This is a stigma that is not easily discussed amongst the African American Community. It appears that there is some unspoken rule book that exempts us from having dialogue about suicidal ideation and actual suicide. According to The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, “Suicide is the 3rd cause of death amongst African American Males between the ages of 15-24, behind homicide and accidents. Also, suicide death rates among black men are 5x that of Black Women.” Not all people who consider suicide have visible symptoms of Depression. Some people have made a concrete decision to end their life and have a plan to execute (in the literal sense). Warning signs to look for listed by WebMD include:

  • Always talking or thinking about death
  • Clinical Depression-deep sadness, loss of interest, trouble sleeping or eating
  • Having a “death wish,” tempting fate by taking risks that could lead to death such as driving fast
  • Losing interests in things One use to care about
  • Making comments about being hopeless, helpless and worthless
  • Putting affairs in order, tying up loose ends, changing a will
  • Sudden unexpected switch from being very sad to being very calm or appearing happy
  • Talking about Suicide
  • Visiting or calling people to say goodbye

In our community we ostracize people that suffer from mental illness, specifically those who suffer from suicidal ideation. We are programmed that killing one self is a “Supreme Sin.” Which further alludes to people suffering in silence and as a result Suicide amongst African Americans is an epidemic that continues to increase. According to the Surgeon General, African Americans from the ages of 10-14 have committed suicide at 233% more than our white counterparts. These are astronomical numbers that we need to be aware of in our community. Not to mention that AA are more likely to suffer from life and environmental stressors that exacerbates symptoms of Depression that result in suicide. So what do we do? First, we acknowledge that suicide is real. We start to embrace mental illness and decrease this misperception that M.I. is a sign of weakness. No! We all have faced adversity at some point within our lifetime. It is imperative that we educate ourselves, raise awareness and advocate for those who suffer.

If you know someone who struggles with thoughts of suicide:

  • Acknowledge and validate their thoughts and feelings. Rather you believe it or not, it is THEIR reality
  • Ask if they have a plan to harm themselves. This has to be done very careful. The person suffering may be guarded and have a fear of that level of transparency. It is vital to ask these questions with compassion in mind. This is an essential question because it may help you understand the intensity of their thoughts.
  • Assist them in seeking professional help. This will not be easy, but is important in saving One’s life.
  • Actively listen, put down the phone, give eye contact and paraphrase so they are assured you are hearing them.
  • Provide supportive language. Tell them you are here for them and they do not have to suffer in silence. You could be their glimpse of hope.
  • Come up with a plan for safety. I would plan to be around them for the next 48-hours. If you cannot, make sure a loved one is near.
  • After, self-care is essential and needed. Vicarious (Secondary) trauma is real. You might find yourself just as depressed. Make sure you meditate, listen to calm music, speak with your support system or do something that distracts you from what you might have experienced.

BONUS SUGGESTION: If you know someone or yourself that struggles with depression. Suggest creating a Gratitude Journal. Normally, journals are a place where we keep our deepest, darkest secrets. Well, what if it was a place where you placed all of life’s joy? This is a behavioral technique that can reprogram the mind from focusing on the negatives. This in turn, can lead to a more positive way of thinking.

 

If you or someone else struggle with thoughts of suicide please use the below resources:

Call 1-800-SUICIDE

COPE (Hennepin County)

Mental Health Emergencies: 612-596-1223

http://www.hennepin.us/residents/emergencies/mental-health-emergencies

 

Always Be Light,

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Kamisha G. Johnson, LGSW

Psychotherapist

President Amani Counseling & Consulting Services

 

 

The Storm

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Often times, we find ourselves in a storm that we cannot seem to get out of. When we try to take a step forward, we take 5 steps back. We all go through our storms (sometimes tornados and hurricanes) but it is what you do during and afterwards that is going to make a big difference.

I had to have a talk one of my loved ones this weekend, someone who has had an influence throughout my life. He has always been the strong type, never liked for others to see him hurt. Yet, when you go through a storm, you cannot allow you feelings, fear, and pain build up. You have to allow it to come out, you have to allow your heart to break. I think people have this perception, especially men, that if you cry or show any emotion, you would be consider weak. That could not be further from the truth. Before you are man or woman, you are HUMAN and as human’s, God has allowed us to feel for a reason. Good, so that we know the feeling of it, pain/hurt so we can learn from it and know how to handle it if that feel came again. Joy and happiness so we learn how to hold on to it and/or create it. Also, some try to self medicate to ease the pain or the void. Whether it is with alcohol, drugs, food, sex, etc. to get a temporary fix. Yet, we need to know and understand that it is just that, temporary. When its all said and done, you feel worst than what you felt like before you tried to self medicate. Then you have to deal with more symptoms, more heartache, and sometimes addiction which that is a huge storm within itself.

What I told my loved one is that he has to keep working and not to give up. Instead of focusing and what has happened in his storm, he needed to focus on how far he has come from the eye of it. See, a year ago, we almost lost him. His health was very grave and we were not sure what to expect. Yet, God said he still has work to do on earth and has made so much progress and is doing amazing things. Yet, he gets frustrated and depressed because the progress isn’t where he wants it to be. Sometimes, we want things to happen and we want them to happen now. However, we need to understand that everything happens on time, not our time. We must be patient with ourselves and our path in life. Trust the process and progress that is planned for your life.

I also told him to make goals for what he wants to accomplish and find meaning in the little things. I told him he has come too far to quit and his support system nor God will allow him to. I also told him that it was already written as far as what he will have to and will go through but he has a place in his storm and he must work through it and that means as Miss Iyanla Vanzant also says, “Do your work!” You cannot control what others have done, how they did it and what they will or won’t do, you must focus on the work you need to do for yourself. Take care of your body inside and out and  smile every chance you get. Love yourself like you have never been hurt or like no one has ever hurt you. I told him that the work is going to be the hardest thing that he will ever do in his entire life but think about what the end result will be.

I am so proud of him and as much I spoke to him to give him comfort, little did he know, he was giving me comfort. I vow to be apart of his journey to continue to fight for his life while I continue to heal mine. I love you UJ 🙂

 

Be Well,

Essence

Guest Writer: Aaron Price-CLMG

I have the pleasure to have the Co-Creator of Crown Lens Media Group, which has developed shows like “Reminisce Over You”, and “Candy Fresh”. Not to mention the awesome partner of “Protect Your Crown”, as well as the host of the upcoming radio show on KFAI 90.3/106.7 FM in Minneapolis, MN entitled “Crowned Sound”. He is also a Photographer, a Videographer, and one of my dearest friends Mr. Aaron Price. Thank you for this piece.

 

Worried About Stress, Stressed about Worry..

The biggest fear in my life has always been FAILURE. Not death, not heartbreak, but failure. Failure to achieve goals, to live up to my standards and others views of me. Probably the wrong way to approach life, but I’ve been stuck in these ways for many years. My parents have always had high expectations of me, considered that I’ve excelled in most of the things I’ve associated myself with. I’ve always done well in school, sports, and art. I’m very passionate when it comes to these various subjects, so excelling seems to come very easy to me. The moment I feel an inkling of doubt, anxiety comes knocking at my door like an uninvited guest. What do I do in that circumstance? I let anxiety walk right in my door and the rest is infamy. My anxiety has caused me more stress than any exam or performance I’ve ever had. Sh*t, I’m stressed right now writing this column just because of the thought that it will not be good enough for the readers. This has always been my “kryptonite”; that my downfall may be my own doing.

It’s true, that your greatest enemy will be the person in the mirror. I’ve fought against this person for decades and that fight continues. I work in the filming business, entertainment industry in a sense, where people are constantly nitpicking and critiquing each other like everyone is Siskel and Ebert. I find myself hoping for “two thumbs up” for everything I do. As a scholar, I study everything I work on, background knowledge of the subject matter, definitions of certain terms and phrases; I mean I got this down to a science. Even through all the studies, nothing is ever a sure thing in entertainment, let alone, life. You see, I am what is known as an “extroverted introvert”, the type of person who is willing to go out and have a good time, but would rather stay at home watching sports or old Martin reruns. So anxiety follows me in everything I do, simply because my job as a videographer has me out everywhere, and nine times out of ten, I’d rather not be there. That’s no disrespect to those I’ve worked with, it’s just who I am. I get nervous very quickly, and I have defense mechanisms (that I will not go into) that keep me sane through all of the insanity.

Another thing that adds to the fun of anxiety (and I’m being sarcastic when I say “fun”) is that I also work a full time job for our US Treasury. It’s like I never sleep, never rest, never nap, so my body is extremely stressed with my mind stressed because I’m anxious all the time. Talk about mental health, right? I’ve found ways to combat the anxiety and stress in small doses. I count to ten and take three deep breaths (sometimes more depending on the situation) before I approach any show or project, which can be a small thing to help my problems. Sometimes, I’ll take trips out of the country, where nobody can reach me, just to clear my mind; recharge my spirit. I’ve found isolation has been the best medicine for these circumstances. It’s almost like meditation, the way it helps with the mind. Music is medicinal as well, in which I listen to instrumentals or classical music to soothe the brain. These are just my tricks of the trade; hopefully it’ll help others in my field of work if they deal with extreme anxiety.

I never once thought of taking actual medicine for my ills, for I choose to not accept the possibility of becoming addicted to it. My choice has always been natural. I’ll keep fighting the person in the mirror until they decide it’s time to give up. So next time you see me, just know I’m fighting a battle that only I can fight, and that I will win at all costs. THE CHAMP IS HERE! So even though I worry about being stressed, and I’m stressed about being worried, I refuse to lose this fight for my life.

Aaron Price-Crown Lens Media Group

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Its Ok

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Greetings everyone, I hope everyone is in good spirits and having a great week so far. I wanted to share something personal with you all. The other night I had the worst panic attack that I ever had in my entire life. I don’t know what quite triggered it but it was something that I hope will never happen again, at least not that bad. I felt the walls closing in around me, shortness of breath, body wanting to shut down, excessive crying where I could not stop. As it was happening, my husband just held me and whispered ” Let it go, let it out, you got this. BREATHE with me”, he had me focus on the one thing that would calm me and keep me, my son. The attack lasted for about 30 minutes yet I only remember bits and pieces of it.

The next day, I was able to reflect on what happened and things I can try to do (or do better) to ensure I do not allow my mind, body, and spirit to go through this experience again. Overall, we all have anxiety from time to time  and sometimes there may not be a way to prevent it and you know what, ITS OK. You can be the most happy, put together person in the world, and still have anxiety. Yet, they are ways to help lesson the affects of anxiety.

For me, like so many of us do, feel as if we carry the world on our shoulders and everything that is in it. We need to find balance in everything we do whether it be family life, relationships/marriage, work life, social life  and most important, within ourselves. I will be the first to tell you, I tend to beat myself up over things, especially when it comes to my past. Some of the decisions that I have made affected a lot of people and has definitely altered my life in many ways. Yet, one thing I am learning everyday the past is just that, the past. There is nothing you can do to change it so you must learn to accept, embrace, forgive, and move forward. Most importantly, WE MUST FORGIVE OURSELVES. I know first hand that it is something that is easier said then done, but once you allow yourself to forgive, only then can you move forward and live a healthy and happy life. Only then can you understand the true definition of love. Someone once told me that your past is just a small wrinkle in time and larger things that are meant to be remembered are the things that are meant to stay in your life, which for me are.

I also worry for others, especially when it comes to my husband. Yet, I had to remember that he is the man of the house and there are things that I cannot control. Me being a woman, I am a nurturer and problem solver. I don’t want my man to hurt or worry so I try to take on his burdens while caring mine. That is something that simply cannot be done. Being married is a partnership, yet you have to allow your spouse to take on their role. You cannot change someone nor can you fight their battles. All you can do is encourage and love them from where they stand and love them for who they are. Most of all, be a better person for you, when you are doing better for yourself, it reflects in those that love you. It influences others to want to do better for themselves, especially your spouse.

A lot of things were put into perspective for me the other night. It let me know “sistah girl, you are doing too much!!”  It’s ok to take a rest. Live for today, tomorrow is not here not and the past days are no longer present. I have to do better.

 

Be Well,

Essence

 

This is Personal

In honor of Suicide Awareness Month, I just want to speak (type) from the heart (freestyle words unspoken)

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I remember when I got the news, the news of something I couldn’t wrap my head around.

The news that you, my family, my little cousin had jumped off a bridge, and my heart hit the ground

What could you possibly have been going through your mind at the time, what kind of pain could you have been feeling?

reeling… my head has constantly done since that day although its been 6 years.

Exactly 13 years to the day lost our grandfather, now you. True, people were cruel, mean, and unworthy of your time and love

yet and still love is what you continued to show to everyone that was ever was blessed with your presence

beauty was the essence of your being and existence.

20 years old, full of life, strived to be better than you were before. Now, no more laughs, smiles, just silence and questions.

Questions like should we have talked more? Could I have done more? Why wasn’t someone there more? Why didn’t anyone see the red flags more? WHY?

As if things couldn’t get any worst, the worst was yet to come. Another part of my family, found in the slum of the river, my older cousin was found,

had been missing for months and a person found him for he had drowned. My cousin who was like a brother, always looking after me yet teasing me when I was younger,

I wonder what you were feeling, was the healing not coming fast enough for you? If I knew this would happened, we would have talked more, hung out more.

I could have protected you from those who claimed to love, honor, and cherished you but instead took advantage and left you when you needed love the most. Now, 6 kids are without a father, a sister without a brother, a mother without her only son.

Thinking of the both of you, I don’t focus on how you left us, but how you lived and loved us

We must and will continue to keep your legacy alive, for I am dedicated to making change and getting the conversation started about some of the things you may have gone through

for of you I ask that you continue being my angels and help me along with God to guide me in helping others so no one will have to suffer or wonder why.

I love you and thankful for the time that time that was given, and the laughter that was shared.

Know that Protect Your Crown is dedicated to you,

RIH Ari and Dre

 

Day in and day out, we hear about people, young and old, taking their lives. Whether its depression, PTSD, substance abuse, bulling, “coming out” to family them showing no support and not feeling accepted or simply feeling alone. We NEED to pay attention and we need to recognize when something is wrong. It cannot just be prayed away, it can not be ignored, mental illness, mental disorder and suicide IS REAL and is happening much closer than you think. We can no longer wait or pretend things are not happening, we can no longer allow our loved ones to suffer in silence.

If you observe or you yourself have the following warning signs:

  • Threatening to hurt or kill oneself or talking about wanting to hurt or kill oneself
  • Looking for ways to kill oneself by seeking access to firearms, available pills, or other means
  • Talking or writing about death, dying, or suicide when these actions are out of the ordinary for the person
  • Feeling hopeless
  • Feeling rage or uncontrolled anger or seeking revenge
  • Acting reckless or engaging in risky activities – seemingly without thinking
  • Feeling trapped – like there’s no way out
  • Increasing alcohol or drug use
  • Withdrawing from friends, family, and society
  • Feeling anxious, agitated, or unable to sleep or sleeping all the time
  • Experiencing dramatic mood changes
  • Seeing no reason for living or having no sense of purpose in life

 

PLEASE CALL the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Phone Number

  • 1-800-273-8255

Guest Writer: Kamisha G. Johnson, LGSW

Greetings! I have the pleasure of having the President of Amani Counseling & Consulting Services and my sister/friend Psychotherapist Kamisha Johnson to bless us with a topic that a lot of woman of color can relate to. Thank You Kamisha!

 

 

Black Women & Bad Nerves: The Truth about Generalized Anxiety Disorder-By  Kamisha G. Johnson, LGSW

For many generations young African American girls have been told “don’t do that, Mama got bad nerves,” or “Mama gotta take her nerve pills.” We have been programmed and prepared for “bad nerves” well before we could define the meaning of this saying our elders referred too often. Many decades later there has been a paradigm shift within the African American culture and we are beginning to have dialogue about the real meaning of “bad nerves.” Now, we have learned that “bad nerves” is the equivalent of Generalized Anxiety Disorder. According to Anxiety & Depression Association of America “Generalized Anxiety Disorder affects 6.8 million adults and women are twice as likely to be affected as men” (www.adaa.org). As a therapist what I have seen through both my personal and professional experience. Specific statistical data is null and void on African American women due to being understudied. Further, I have observed many African American women live with some form of Anxiety Disorder. Society and our culture have created this ideology of the Strong Black Woman that perpetuates and increase the symptoms of anxiety. We get caught up in being the matriarch and caregivers of our families at the expense of our mental health. As a result, this exacerbates our anxiety and makes us more susceptible to medical ailments including high blood pressure, chronic pain, diabetes, obesity, and depression. According to the DSM-V (2013) Generalized Anxiety Disorder’s symptoms that have to be present to meet criteria include:
  1. Excessive anxiety and worry (apprehensive expectation), occurring more days than not for at least 6 months, about a number of events or activities (such as work or school performance).
  2. The individual finds it difficult to control the worry.
  3. The anxiety and worry are associated with three (or more) of the following six symptoms (with at least some symptoms having been present for more days than not for the past 6 months):

Note: Only one item required in children. 1. Restlessness, feeling keyed up or on edge. 2. Being easily fatigued. 3. Difficulty concentrating or mind going blank. 4. Irritability. 5. Muscle tension. 6. Sleep disturbance (difficulty falling or staying asleep, or restless, unsatisfying sleep).

  1. The anxiety, worry, or physical symptoms cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.
  2. The disturbance is not attributable to the physiological effects of a substance (e.g., a drug of abuse, a medication) or another medical condition (e.g., hyperthyroidism).
  3. The disturbance is not better explained by another medical disorder (e.g., anxiety or worry about having panic attacks in panic disorder, negative evaluation in social anxiety disorder [social phobia], contamination or other obsessions in obsessive-compulsive disorder, separation from attachment figures in separation anxiety disorder, reminders of traumatic events in posttraumatic stress disorder, gaining weight in anorexia nervosa, physical complaints in somatic symptom disorder, perceived appearance flaws in body dysmorphic disorder, having a serious illness in illness anxiety disorder, or the content of delusional beliefs in schizophrenia or delusional disorder).
To help alleviate symptoms of Generalized Anxiety Disorder includes a combination of the following:
  • Behavioral techniques including deep breathing, meditation, yoga, mindful walking (focusing on 5-senses), prayer, journaling, and daily positive affirmations.
  • Healthy support system of family and friends.
  • In severe cases psychotropic medications that can minimize (but may not eliminate) symptoms. Medications are more effective in combination with the techniques listed above.
In the African American community we tend to turn a blind eye to mental illness. It is my ethical duty and passion to raise awareness. 1 in 5 adults experience some form of severe and persistent mental illness in any given year. Specifically in the African American community we have placed such a high stigma on this illness and we believe we can pray it away. However, us who have spiritual enlightenment and education understand that prayer without work is DEAD. We must embrace that mental illness is real and with psychological openness and awareness we can help those that suffer seek help. Most importantly, live a fulfilled life through recovery. NO ONE deserves to suffer in silence.

 

“You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.”- Maya Angelou

COPE (Hennepin County)

Mental Health Emergencies: 612-596-1223

http://www.hennepin.us/residents/emergencies/mental-health-emergencies

 

Always Be Light,

 20160729_094617_1473176909235

Kamisha G. Johnson, LGSW

Psychotherapist

President Amani Counseling & Consulting Services