OCTOBER HAS BEEN DECLARED MENTAL HEALTH AWARENESS MONTH

Unfortunately, 112 Americans die by suicide every day. Suicide is the second leading cause of death of people between 15 to 25 years old. If those numbers aren’t astounding enough, 9.4 million Americans in the United States have had serious thoughts of suicide within the last year. 

Warning signs 

  • Never take the threat of someone killing themselves lightly.
  • Hopelessness, having no reason to live
  • Unbearable pain
  • Talk about feeling trapped
  • Behaving recklessly, anxiously, or agitated / rage or wanting revenge 
  • Increased use of alcohol or drugs
  • Not sleeping or sleeping too much
  • Withdrawing or feeling isolated 
  • Extreme mood swings

If you or someone you know needs help, make sure you reach out to a professional.

National Suicide Prevention

800-273-8255

GUEST BLOG: MENTAL HEALTH AND THE ARMED FORCES

                                            Smoking Mirrors by Elijah K. Muhammad

Before the Covid19 Pandemic outbreak, there was a lot of talk about mental health, and a lot of websites, systems and programs being put in place in order to raise awareness, so that we may provide many options for people to receive treatment. There are many of us, who suffer from different symptoms of mental health, such as PTSD, depression, anxiety and chemical dependency to name a few, or maybe a combination of these symptoms listed. There are so many of us that are affected with these traits, whether it may be from childhood trauma, abusive relationships, physical or mental, or a Soldier returning home from a Combat Deployment.

            I wish to provide some enlightenment on a particular group, which is our Brothers and Sisters in arms, who have, or who still currently serve in our armed forces. Speaking from experience, I believe a lot of our Soldiers are dramatically affected by the events they witnessed or participated in during combat. However, I don’t totally agree with the fact, that combat is the only or main contributing factor leading to the cause of PTSD, anxiety, depression or chemical dependency. There are a plethora of contributing factors that often go unmentioned and addressed. Being a former combat veteran, we are briefed on potential domestic threats that we may encounter. Entailed in some of these briefings, are the intentions and actions of certain type of opportunist that are labeled card chasers. These are basically narcissists pursuing a relationship or courtship in order to obtain benefits, such as housing, medical/dental insurance or a potential portion of a Soldier’s pay or pension. Nothing is more important to a Soldier than family, which is the reason they make the sacrifice of putting their life on the line, in order to be a provider. Before you deploy, you are required to get your house in order by filling out your will and deciding how you want your life insurance policy distributed, in case you were not able to return home. Last but not least, you must provide instructions on how you want your physical remains handled.

            After this process, you say goodbye to your family and then deploy. During this deployment, a Soldier will face a lot of adversity and overwhelming odds of survival. Please understand that family is the motivation and inspiration along with the lives of the men and women next to them to make it back home. Unfortunately, when we return home as veterans,we’re all injured in a sense, whether it be mentally or physically, in some cases a combination of both. When some of these Soldiers return home, they return home to an empty house, depleted bank accounts, because their spouses abandoned them, leaving heartbroken, poor and destitute. Another group of veterans may be physically unable to continue their military career, because of injuries suffered during the combat deployment. This forces them to leave the military but may not receive their benefits immediately or total benefits. These two scenarios cause the suicide rate to increase, and cause veterans to totally give up on life, which is why in most cases you see so many homeless veterans. Their thought process is, why should I want to even continue living? I sacrificed everything of me for my family and my country, just to have one, if not the two of them turn their backs on me.

            I loved my time in the military, but everyone is not capable of staying afloat mentally, even I at one point in time, had to consult with a therapist. This is not a race or gender issue; this is a humanity issue. I personally believe we need to raise awareness of these undiscussed triggers that veterans constantly face, that causes PTSD, anxiety, depression, chemical dependency and even suicide. By raising the conscious level of these traits, we can decrease the numbers of Soldiers encountering these mental issues possibly reducing the rate of suicides.

Thank you for your time. My appreciation and regards to the host of this platform Cherie Johnson for allowing me to lend my voice.

CHILDREN FEEL YOUR ENERGY!

This week my energy has been totally off! I was not out protesting, but I was on the phone calling the White House, the police stations and the General Attorney’s Office. I am mentally and physically exhausted.


My inbox was full of slick remarks from people who claimed to be “Punky Fans,” but musta forgot I’m the Black friend, then wanted to play victim when I cussed their ass out! (I know I should just ignore them, you guys tell me all the time, but then it festers in me and makes me feel worse. Getting it out keeps me mentally healthy.) 


My daughter felt the tension no matter how hard I tried to hide it! She decided she was going to take charge and change the narrative of my day! She was going to have me do some yoga, exercises, and then meditation! 


I giggled as I realized children have so much common sense! She was reminding me how important self-care is. Even though she doesn’t understand everything that’s going on at 5 years old, she still understands at times we need to step back and take care of self because stress kills! 


They say it’s a parents job to take care of children BUT these children really take care of us! It’s hard to hide the truth from children, but as parents it’s our duty to keep the energy healthy for them! 

IT’S MENTAL HEALTH AWARENESS MONTH

Below is a repost from March 2019 regarding self-esteem in children.

THE 3 BIGGEST INFLUENCES ON YOUR CHILD’S SELF-ESTEEM

Family

The family is widely seen as an important influence on self-esteem because it is where the initial sense of oneself is formed. Children with self-esteem difficulties have absorbed what parents and others have negatively said about them. As they begin to define themselves in light of their low sense of self, they may undertake the view that they are different from their peers and siblings. Although at times children may not be aware that they are different, they know they feel awkward and inept when compared to others, particularly higher achieving siblings. The effects of low self-esteem can be reflected outward toward siblings and parents through verbal or physical expression. Their inner tension and shame can lead them to act out in various ways, ranging from emotional and physical withdrawal to aggressive and combative outward behaviors.

School 

Children with low self-esteem appear hesitant and uncomfortable in the classroom. They tend to only answer direct questions and prefer to keep their opinions to themselves because they fear others’ reactions. Guarded behaviors and minimal interactions with other classmates lessen their social impact on others, which reinforces their belief of having nothing to offer others.

Community

Children or individuals with low self-esteem hesitate when interacting with groups of neighborhood kids or joining social activities, such as parties or games. They generally wait to be invited to play or join others, but then only participate minimally when they agree to play. Their guardedness and self-doubt hold them back from fully interacting with others, again reinforcing their negative self-image.

YOUR MENTAL HEALTH STATUS SHOULDN’T BE A SECRET

I just found out that one of my high school best friends is bipolar. Like diagnosed! The sad thing is his whole family knew…but none ever told me! I guess in high school they could help regulate him and keep him on his meds. “Back Story” ….so he was always a loose cannon, but he was pretty normal like any other teenager. After high school, things begin to change but I held onto my friendship into the middle of the 2000s. 

I remember going into an audition and seeing my friend walk down the street.  He looked homeless, I felt sad! I brought him home with me! I made him take a shower, wash his clothes and gave him something to eat but shortly after he began to act erratically, and I had to get him out of my house. I was sad because I never felt uncomfortable being alone with him until that day. He was screaming about how he could elevate things using his mind and he was angry I didn’t see it. I asked him if he was on drugs, he insisted things were floating around my house! (Yeah, he had to go, I dropped him off back where I found him Hollywood Blvd.)

We had always stayed in touch. Yes, he had called me a few times, yelled and said crazy things on the phone but I didn’t know the signs, so I missed it. 

A few years after high school, our contact dwindled down. It was no longer a day-to-day thing anymore. More like a once a month check in and that’s pretty natural. People grow up and go in different directions. We would lose touch but every once in a while, the universe brought us back together.

Around 2013, I worked for a magazine and my office was in Hollywood.  One day I got a great surprise my friend showed up to see me…so he was still hanging out in Hollywood area often. Someone had told him that my office was nearby. It actually overlooked Sunset Blvd. I was so excited to see him walk up in my office, it brought me so much joy! He looked good, he was clean, he had on nice clothes, but he had a lil beard. It was awesome to see him looking like an adult. We exchange numbers again…stayed in touch. Everything was pretty much back to normal, we reunited, and I felt like I had my homey back. 

Then 2014… Not sure if you know the details of my pregnancy but it was extremely high-risk! I had emergency surgery, was on heart meds, had gestational diabetes, contractions daily and hormone shots. I was on bed rest for seven months and was told no stress!  Anything that caused me stress, I had to let it go. Not only from my life but also for my child. At that point anything and everyone who caused drama I easily said goodbye too.

I got a phone call one afternoon from my friend, he was cussing me out! I mean BAD, he was saying all kinds of mean things to me and I didn’t understand what was going on or where it was coming from. I tried to calm him down and I explained to him the situation that I was in and how I could not do stress. He didn’t care, he screamed at me, “Bitch, I don’t care!”  I hung up the phone. Usually I would have cussed him out, but I was having contractions and couldn’t deal. He musta called me back 30 times. Finally, I answered again, and I said, “What is wrong with you? I told you I just can’t take the chaos right now.” His response was, “Fuck you, bitch. I hope you die. I hope you contract HIV and die of AIDS and I hope your sick mama dies.” 

I hung up the phone and I reached out to his brother and asked his brother was he on drugs because nothing else made sense. His brother told me there was nothing wrong with him. I didn’t accept that answer so then I called his mother and said, “I’m really really worried about him. I think he’s on crack because nothing else makes sense.” I was then sternly told, “He might smoke a little bit of weed but he’s not on crack.” I said, “He’s on something, he’s not OK.” Then his mother basically told me she didn’t know what I was talking about, he was grown and she didn’t have anything to do with it. I understand having loyalty to your child but clearly, he wasn’t getting the help he needed. For the life of me I can’t understand why she chose to still not tell me? This is a man I’ve known 30 years! 

At that moment I kissed him goodbye, in my mind of course, not physically! I prayed for him and I let the friendship go.  His mom is a really sweet lady, she calls and checks on me from time to time and we keep in touch mostly on social media. His sister also keeps in contact with me but my friend and his brother I don’t really deal with. 

My daughter is now five years old. I thank God daily she was born healthy and I am off heart meds. Well his brother reached out to me recently and asked me to call him. I declined, I told him I was very much at peace. My life is changed, I’ve changed completely and no longer can I do the chaos. I refuse to have that kind of energy in my life. His brother said he understands. It was pretty much left at that. 

Shortly after I got a call from another family member who decided to tell me he was not on drugs, but he is bipolar! He refuses to take his medicine sometimes and that’s why he acts the way he does. 

My heart broke.  I have been asking for years what was wrong with my friend. I thought he was on drugs I asked him repeatedly if he was on crack! I asked his mother repeatedly was he on crack because nothing else made sense! I’ve known this man since the ninth grade. I never knew that he had a mental health disorder. That piece of information is HUGE and was never disclosed to me. That in itself was a shock to my core, and it hurt my heart because had I known I could’ve handled the whole friendship differently. 

I could’ve been a support, I wouldn’t taken every bad thing so personally, I wouldn’t have been so offended every time he cussed me out and I wouldn’t been so stressed out or heartbroken by the thing that he had done.  The things he had said. Unfortunately, at this point the relationship is pretty much unrepairable but I do have the answers I’ve been looking for… for 20 years! My friend is bipolar. 

With that little bit of information, I can forgive him. I can pray for him in a different way now. I’m sorry that I wasn’t there to be an assistant to helping him with his mental health but I simply didn’t know. Had I known things would be different…had I known he would know my daughter. He’s never even seen a picture.

I wish people with mental health issues would be open and honest about their status to the people close to them. 

www.TeamCherieJ.com

SO, I’M AN INTROVERT. I’M NOT BORED OR SAD. THERE’S NOTHING WRONG WITH ME!

Yes, I am happiest alone and tend to shy away from people as much as I can.  As I grow older, I realize it’s because I am somewhat of an empath. Energy transfers and a lot of y’all have fucked up energy! Even many that I love have horrible energy and I have no desire to feel it. Even when you’re not complaining, the fact that you’re not happy in life weighs heavy on a empath’s heart.

I used 2 be the type who helped everyone and was somewhat of a fixer. If I could fix your issues, your self-esteem or help you pay your bills, I would but that shit is emotionally and financially draining. I’m over it and have divorced that part of my former self. In result, I also divorced many friendships willingly.

Now, I enjoy my peace. It doesn’t mean I don’t like you…but if you can’t share my space often, it might mean your energy just drains me. Have you ever gotten off the phone with someone and you all of a sudden were physically tired and depressed, but right before the call you were happy and energetic? I don’t mean a call that delivered bad news or a death but a regular call from the homie? That means energy transferred now you are carrying their vibe with you, until you shake it off or transfer it back to someone else. I hate that feeling. I no longer wish to take on other people’s emotions. By myself, I’m chill with no drama. Except my drama of motherhood but that’s my entertainment!

I have friends who think they are being sweet, but they get on my nerves tryna force me to be positioned in social situations. I try to explain it to them, but they don’t get it. I don’t need more friends, I don’t want nobody else calling my phone, I aint tryna hang out. I’m tryna chill at Chuck E Cheese, not a bar, a social gathering, or anywhere with these grown folks. I could be doing something with my kid! I’ve spent my entire life being social. I literally want to spend some time being left alone. I don’t see why that’s so hard to understand.

My whole point in writing this was to say preserve your mental health by guarding the energy you allow to share your personal space.

MENTAL HEALTH

Okay, I have a question.  Am I the only one who feels it’s morally right to let people know when your battling mental health issues?

We need to talk more openly and honestly about mental health and breaking down the stigmas…

1 out of 5 adults, that’s 43.8 million people in the United States, are suffering from mental health issues. An estimated 26% of homeless adults staying in shelters live with serious mental illness

Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel and act, as we cope with life. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices. Mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood.

Depression, anxiety, bipolar and schizophrenia are just a few mental health issues people suffer from.

So, in one way or another, we have all encountered people who are battling mental health issues. I myself found myself in a friendship where I didn’t understand the drama until the friendship blew up and turned bad… very bad but all could have been avoided if I would have known my friend was bipolar!

I’m not saying I wouldn’t have been friends with her if I would have known she was battling a real disorder.  What I am saying is, I would have handled things a lot differently from the start if I would have known she was clinical. Now things are too far gone to salvage the friendship. I choose to keep my distance, but understanding the real issue made it easy to forgive and wish her well…

When you battle mental health issues, it doesn’t just affect you but everyone you choose to bring in your life!

DAILY MENTAL HEALTH CHECK

I think it’s important to be transparent with how you are feeling so that everyone in the house is on the same page. Being a homeschool mom, sometimes, the relationship between parenthood and teacher isn’t always a happy one for my child or myself. When we are transparent with how we are feeling we are better able to aid in each other’s journey.

There is something about female hormones and mood swings that doesn’t always mix. Yes, she may be 4 but she is fierce and mighty.  I have to remind myself that nobody wakes up happy every single day and everyone is entitled to bad days… even a 4-year-old!

So that I can keep a grip on how she is feeling, part of her morning work is to draw a silly face about her mood on the top of a worksheet. After I grade the worksheet, I hand it back to her with my mood on it as well. Sometimes we laugh… other times we share a hug and an encouraging word! Either way we are able to be on the same page.

An extra 2 minutes with this chart helps me stay in tune with my daughter’s inner self!