Each year, 1 in 5 US adults experiences mental illness. That’s approximately 18.5% of individuals over the age of 18. Each year, 1 in 20 adults experience a serious mental illness that interferes with or impairs their ability to function in life. More than half of those with a mental illness are not aware and are undiagnosed. Let’s take a moment to really think about that.
When someone is coughing, sneezing, experiencing an itchy throat, or bleeding, we know something is wrong and will typically inquire with concern about “what’s wrong” with that individual. We see symptoms of physical illness and acknowledge that something in that individuals body is compromised. On the other hand, when we see symptoms of a mental illness, we either are completely oblivious, attribute the symptom to the person’s personality, dismiss it, or tell the person to change, stop or get over it. Would you tell someone with cancer to just stop having a compromised immune system? Or tell someone with an asthma attack to just fix their breathing?
I bet that’s a hard no.
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If I asked the average person in the US what routines and practices they implement in their life to take care of their physical health, something tells me at least 3 out of 4 people would have some answers. Even if they aren’t considered to be at their healthiest, most people can at least share general ideas of steps to take towards improving their physical health. If I asked the same questions, and replaced physical health with mental health, I’m not too confident that one would be able to share information as quickly or thoroughly.
With so much information about mental health and major mental illnesses available to the masses, why is the topic of mental health still not integrated into our thought process about general health management? It seems that mental health becomes a trending topic when an atrocity is exposed in the public eye, e.g. a mass shooting, a suicide or substance induced death of a public figure, and then gently fades from peoples’ attention until the next time. Because mental illness (not mental health) becomes a circumstantial topic, I presume it can only be understandable why mental health is a back thought, but it is a personal focus of mine, to change that.
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It's a funny thing when you start to really put yourself first...
I mean, when you intentionally set boundaries with people, walk away from relationships, offer up the word NO more often, be comfortable with doing what you want, and actually believing in some dreams you have...
The funny thing is that the people around you will respond: some people will admire you, others will respect you, and others will think you are being rude, selfish, standoffish or "Different".
Well I say,
How dare you tell someone you won't tolerate their disrespect...
How dare you tell someone you don't want to hear about the negativity they want to spew about their own or others' lives...
How dare you set boundaries with energy vampires and people who don't seem to appreciate you...
How dare you spend less time with people who don't add to your life or feel you have a mutually beneficial relationship with
How dare you be honest and say, no, without reason because you're an adult who reserves the right to choose what you do and when you want to do it
How dare you say no because you've learned that you are human and that rest and restoration are important to your physical, mental and emotional health...
I mean...how dare you begin to love yourself as much you do others...
This is the thing, it's ok to change. I want you to give yourself permission to do so. There's some unrealistic expectation that humans have about people never changing, and when they do, others get surprised. No matter what the change seems like, albeit negative or positive. Seasons change, weather change, and people change. Your body changes, your circumstances change, and how you navigate the world change.
The only thing constant is change, so embrace it, and if those around you don't, learn to be ok with it.
A new me on my new journey of self love years ago would have said, oh well who cares, but the reality is, we do care if the ones we love the most will embrace our transformations. We do have a hope that people will be happy and accepting of our new wings, but unfortunately this is not always the case.
As you come into yourself, you must realize that choosing to love on yourself does not make you selfish. It means that you are conscious of the fact that you are the center of your universe and without intentionally taking steps to stay aligned with your center, your world will be chaos.
It does not serve you to let people treat you ways that you don't want to be treated. You must not only learn and reflect upon what you NEED emotionally, physically, spiritually and mentally to thrive, but you must hold others accountable to providing that.
It doesn't serve you to overcommit, run yourself into the ground, neglect your health, neglect your me time, and neglect self care. It is your role and responsibility to maintain peace and joy in your life. On this journey, as you come to realize how to do so, you will transform, you will have to choose you over others, and you know what? It's ok. Choose to BE Centered.
BE Unapologetically Centered,
When I think of how truly connected everything in life is, I joyfully think about the song and opening scene of Disney's The Lion King, in which all the animals from the pride lands came to the birthing ceremony of Simba. In the background, we hear a story about the Circle of Life.
I mean, really dissect the lyrics.
"From the day we arrive on the planet
And blinking, step into the sun
There's more to see than can ever be seen
More to do than can ever be done
There's far too much to take in here
More to find than can ever be found
But the sun rolling high
Through the sapphire sky
Keeps great and small on the endless round
It's the Circle of Life
And it moves us all
Through despair and hope
Through faith and love
Till we find our place
On the path unwinding
In the Circle
The Circle of Life"
The circle of life, the food chain, destiny, serendipity, and "everything happens for a reason" are
all very similar notions to me. Every thing and every being has a purpose. All that is orchestrated naturally in our lives, is testament that life happens full circle. Birth and death. Loss and gain. Joy and sadness.
The opposition of life is so important to understand and embrace because it shapes you to be stronger, more resilient, and of greater gratitude, if you choose to look at life's opportunities in such a way. Life is 10% what happens to us and 90% how we respond.
Well, if we embark on the journey of life with an open mind and spirit, knowing for sure that every person, lesson, and experience is working together, life's blows can be taken standing straight up. To be simple, I suggest for to just believe that one day, it will all make sense because it will! I promise. Well, if you're open to connecting the dots.
When you're experiencing whatever you're experiencing, sometimes you can wonder to yourself, Why? Why is this happening? You might even go so far as to wonder, why is this happening to me?
Well ...why not you? Why not now? Why not? Are you so special and unique that you should be exempt from the difficulty and challenging times of the human experience? I think not. But as you ask those questions, consider your role in the plot of life. See we have thoughts and actions that often bring certain occurrences in our lives, but in a grander scheme, we also are just containers for God's greater plans. Our influence and control only goes so far.
So in understanding that there's a grander scheme than we can imagine or create, we can choose to look at life differently. Honoring the journey, the confusion, the timing, and the seemingly incongruity. When things just don't make sense, I think that's a sign!
It's the beginning of a beautiful week, and I want you to choose the attitude," something great is in store and this is serving a great purpose! "
"This" can be the day, week, interaction with a stranger, coworker, family member, traffic, or even the time in your life. Shift your relationship with time, expectations, and development.
BE Open. BE Hopeful~
By: Tiffany W.
Happy #selflovesunday BEautiful BEings! Its the day of spiritual revival and I myself and feeling renewed. Good things always happen to our souls on Sundays. Its the beginning of the week and I want to share something special with you.
Today I got the most empowering text from a good friend and sister like figure in my life. She said, "Have you been posting anything? the last post I could see is the Valentine's day one, I think something may be wrong with my browser. Let me know."
Do you know why that was empowering? Because I wanted to quit blogging. I knew I wasn't going to quit but I considered, what do I need to do differently to make an impact? I truly want to create content that the average gen y woman can relate to and to be honest when people don't comment, like, repost or even acknowledge what you do, it's easy to think, well maybe it's not good. It's good enough for me because it's my truth, but I have to consider as to whether it resonates with others...
That text let me know, that even if it's just 1 person, someone cares.
I'm going to have a truth moment with you:
I have been frozen for literally 1 week. No writing (until last night). Little feeling. Little exposure. Little interaction. I've confined myself to my room for the most part. Laying in bed, praying, meditating and watching movies I've seen 100 plus times. As I've felt emotionally dead, mentally I've driven myself insane 100 plus times.
Feelings of failure, despair, confusion, dissapointment, and dare I say doubt. About what? The path I'm on. See, from a place of faith and spirituality, I can see the future, but the present leaves me in total confusion sometimes. One thing I know for sure is that when you get a vision from God several times in your life, that vision is showing you whats possible. I believe divine sight, inspiration and vision is real. Whatever God shows you, will always take place. I've seen my life. I've seen the impact, the joy, the love, the abundance, the family, the philanthropy, and the legacy.
The problem with having such clarity while being a typical millennial and someone with depression, is that I become an enemy of time. With visions and goals there comes action. With action, there's not only expected outcomes, but expected outcomes on my timeline. Certain times of the year falling on my face is no problem, I get that happens in life. Other times, the times in which I'm most prone to experiencing a depressive episode, my failed Great Expectations become a problem.
The reality that I know: Life is NEVER as bad as it SEEMS. If you can find gratitude in having shelter, food, health, clothing and love, you're doing better than about 2/3rds of the world. In the end, the world never really knows what might have been done (in light of failure) they just remember you're impact (whether negative or positive). The reality that my well self knows: I am enough.
Well reality has almost nothing to do with the mind of someone in a depressive state. A different darker dimmer reality exists. It's the one that says, " What I'm doing isn't working. I don't matter. No one pays attention to me. I want to give up." (If you believe "depression is a choice" or don't really understand it, I suggest you visit http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/depression/index.shtml).
I fall victim to my own great expectations. No matter what I do or what I say, the judge in me can easily choose to nullify everything; every step, every effort and every piece of "success."
The truth is that true acceptance and perfect self love is hard for anyone. That's why its a journey of fascination for me. Not just on a personal level, but on a psychological level. In fields like Positive Psychology and Personality Psychology, looking at all measures of self concept are the most compelling stories of human behavior. Self acceptance is hard for anyone, but especially those with the most critical, heart and mind.
Naturally, I'm critical and I overthink, but when you take account of my brain chemistry at times (the depression) I become anxious. I become obsessed. I become inundated with thoughts that counter what I KNOW to be my true being. My advantage: I'm extremely cognizant of the mental and at times spiritual battle going on inside of me, which is why I know what I need to do to recalibrate my internal state.
There is beauty in learning about yourself. There is beauty in accepting your own journey, your own truths, your own limited limitations, and the possibilities that exists. There is beauty in timing. There is beauty in special relationships. There is beauty in darkness. There is beauty in life.
Sometimes life gets hard and overwhelming but we must just pray and surrender, and continue to love on ourselves.
No matter what, I still chose to love on myself (even though my mind didn't connect to it) I worked out, prayed, meditated, burned my incense/sage, watched what would make me laugh, listened to my sermons and read uplifting messages.
I knew I'd come around. ..eventually. Nothing lasts forever. Nothing . I'm glad to say I'm back.
Do you have a story of triumph? Would you like to share something from your own self love journey. I and the world want you to share your story. Please email email@example.com if you want to be featured as a guest blogger.
By: Tiffany W.
Do you know there's an estimated 7 billion humans walking this Earth?
More than half of those humans are actually women!
What do you think that may mean? Well to me, that means, YOU ARE NOT ALONE!
Take that in. It's a simple yet possibly emotionally impactful statement. Why? Because when people, especially women (can we admit we're a tad bit more emotional and irrational at times?) go through their Life Crap, they think they're alone! They think their struggle, pain, dysfunction, confusion, disappointment, lost, depression, and especially heartbreak keeps them wrapped up in this bubble that reads, "Girl you are all alone. Be ashamed. No one can know. No one can understand. Struggle through this Life Crap all alone!" It's rather ridiculous. Wouldn't you agree?
You are not the only one to be hurt. You are not the only one who had an abortion. You are unfortunately not the only one who's been a survivor of domestic violence or sexual assault. You're not the only one who's used their body to fulfill voids of love and esteem. You are not the only one who's regretted coming between another relationship. You're not the only one battling an addiction. You're not the only one who's contracted a STD/STI. You are not the only one to be discriminated against or undermined because of your body, skin color, hair, sexuality, or gender. You are not the only one that has an unhealthy relationship with your body and feels the need to obsess over every crevice, inch, pound or calorie. You are definitely not the only one who's experienced heartbreak. You're not the only mother that sometimes feel like they want to walk away from their husband and children. You're not the only one questioning you're long term relationship or marriage because you've realized you're transforming. You're not the only one who's been cheated on, lied to, or just flat out abandoned. You're not the only one without a mother or father (whether by their choice or death). You're not the only one that is "young" facing a terminal illness. You're not the only one that doesn't know their purpose, or know what they want to do with their life. You're not the only that "feels like a failure." You're not the only one in major debt with a job that barely has a liveable wage. You're not the only unemployed, homeless, or car-less (of course these are moreso 1st world problems). You're not the only one who's afraid to go after their dream. You're not the only one that hates their job and feels stuck.You're not the only angry, sad, or confused. You are not the only one who really doesn't know what it means to be happy, in love, or satisfied with life. YOU ARE NOT ALONE!
I know in your alone time. you reflect, compare your life to those who you follow on social media and in blogs, and it has you twisting up reality. I know it feels really hard to grasp the answer to all the WHY's in your life. Some times, the weight of the world seems so heavy, you just don't know what to do. But guess what? YOU ARE NOT ALONE.
What happened if you realized that your experience was synonymous with someone else's? and it was ok to be transparent to SOMEONE because you never really know what someone else is going through? What could happen if you actually believed that in the midst of all the confusion, hurt, disappointment and loss, you could actually choose to BE OK, and know that life is actually OK?
One thing that I know for sure is that pain is real. Its as real as your mind tells you it is.If you're mind doesn't focus on pain, well it wouldn't exists. As someone who's experienced at least 2 depressive episodes a year since I was 7, I know what it feels like to be caught up in your mind. I also know the freedom of sharing your innermost self with others. It can be nerving, but it is love. How so? Well, not only are you learning to accept yourself, you're teaching others to accept themselves while also possibly helping them heal through their own Life Crap.
If you are feeling alone or if you ever feel alone, as if no one can understand or relate to whatever you're feeling, I want you to talk to someone. I want you to write, sing, dance, draw, or paint through whatever you're going through. I want you to find a way to express yourself, speak up and speak out. Sharing your truth is the most powerful step you can take in healing yourself. Learn to find peace with wherever you are in life. That is the power of the first commandment of self love, Honor Thyself. Learn to embrace who you are, what you've been through and what you're going through.
BE OPEN to Loving Yourself~
By: Tiffany W.
One aspect of Honor Thy Body that's very important to me is fitness. Being physically active really does help me balance my mood and motivates me to push through life. Since the beginning of the year I've been doing 2 fitness challenges: at least 10mins of jump rope a day and run at least 1 mile per day. Well I regret to say I've missed 3 days haha but I'm still rocking with both challenges and it feels great.
The greatest thing about a challenge is understanding the psychology of it all. You actually get a perspective into your own level of commitment, excuses making, and patterns of consistency. If this was me last year I would have been so mad at myself for missing those days, but not 2015 Tiffany. I was still active those days, I just didn't go outside at all, so I didn't complete those days, and now I'm starting over, and I'm ok with that.
Well 5 days ago, a friend and wellness client of mine asked if I would find an ab challenge to do with her. I was excited because I haven't done much of abs in a while. I found this challenge and absolutely love it. Fitness in general for me is for physical and mental health, but ab work is for vanity and I'm ok with that too!
Take a stab at it for 30 days. The key to getting results is 80% nutrition so you MUST be watching what you eat. Lots of green veggies, lots of water (ideally half your body weight, but in oz of water), compelx carbs like brown rice, quinoa (keen-wah), sweet potatoes/yams (not southern style), cous cous, lentils, etc. Eat clean and do this ab challenge and I'm sure your tummy will look quite different at the end of 30days!
By: Tiffany W.
Do you know how amazing you are and your life is?
Granted, you may or may not have everything you want or desire. You may even be going through a rough season. You may have recently lost someone. You may be one of the millions of people fighting through a seasonal episode of depression. Despite all of that, you and your life is amazing.
Sometimes it's really hard to the light at the end of the tunnel, but I think that's because we're paying more attention to the tunnel then the light. Staying focused on not only what we're grateful for in the moment, but also on whats at the end of any season keeps you motivated.
Stay encouraged. People and situations seem powerful enough to take our joy and smile, but we have the power to choose how we want to respond to the world.
If you feel like you are in a deep funk or experiencing a depressive episode its even more important for you to have a Self Love tool kit available. What should be in your tool kit? Poems, affirmations, intentions, declarative statements, uplifting songs, encouraging spiritual scriptures, fitness, eating clean (yes this dramatically effects your mood), comedic films/shows/text, a creative process (writing, singing, dancing, painting, etc.), deep breathing, random moments of forced smiles, and the most important, daily actions that uplift another.
Yes these are all tools you can use to stay encouraged. Of course choose whatever resonates with you, but whatever you do, remember you and your life is amazing.
By: Tiffany W.
One of the greatest blocks that I'm learning to overcome is shame.
It feels good to be in a place to feel comfortable in yourself. Comfortable not having the answers most people expect. Comfortable with not knowing the future but staying in belief about the possibilities. Comfortable in knowing that I am doing my best despite what others may feel.
I think I got to a point of thinking, why take away my own joy in life and weigh myself in shame and guilt, when I can own my life, and float in the joy of just BEing?
I mean I used to feel shame for the smallest things. If I over committed to plans, I'd feel really guilty about telling certain parties, I'm not going to join you for x,y,z. Even if someone came over my place and I had dishes in the sink or they walked in my room which may have been unpresentable to them. If I didn't have money to put in a collection plate during offering at church. Heck, even if I realized that I totally forgot to call or text someone back in a "decent" window of time.
I'd feel shame if someone pointed out I was hypocritical about something. If I forgot to give someone a birthday card or call. If I didn't have money or take time to create a holiday gift. Even more, being 20 something with no job, little money, no car, and pretty much floating. But let me tell me you about the power of self love!
Haha...I let that mess go. I own my stuff. All of it. I accept everything in my journey, and when I "mess up" I admit it. When I'm wrong or have contradicted myself, I own it. If I do or live in some "unconventional" manner, I own that. Do you know what that feels like? It feels like freedom and obligation to only myself. I don't have children or a husband, so the only person that I'm accountable for is myself. Receiving insight of what others feel about the productivity of my life or even the alignment of my behavior no longer imposes guilt or shame on my spirit.
It is not to say I don't consider what others say, or how they react to me, but I've learned to truly embrace the 5 Commandments of Self Love, and that has allowed me to really just honor and accept myself. That is a feeling I wish more people, especially women could feel.
Women shame themselves about their bodies, their romantic choices, their sexuality, sexual or emotional traumas, eating sweets or unhealthy foods, not going going out, going out a lot, and not hitting goals "on time." Stop the shaming! Stop the guilt! I believe that when you are aligned in your mind, body, and spirit, and make decisions from a place of doing what you know is best at all times, you will be able to avoid shame and guilt. Especially for things you really didn't do.
Traditionally taboo topics such as sexual assault, rape, domestic violence, and even depression have received more of a platform because of stories that have circulated on social media in massive numbers. Understanding that no matter what struggles or traumas you experience, you are never alone or the only one experiencing them, is definitely a step towards self love and acceptance. You didn't ask to be assaulted. You didn't ask to be taking advantage of. You didn't ask to be drugged. You didn't ask to be abused mentally, emotionally, physically or financially. You didn't ask to experience feelings of hopelessness. Do not feel shame. Own your story, and maybe connect to a higher purpose, and share your story. Empower someone else. Connect to someone else.
Embrace your truth. Live in your truth. Share your truth. Heal from your truth.
Release shame and guilt. Stop wronging yourself. DO whats necessary to avoid those feelings, but if you walk into that territory, just own whatever you did or didn't do. Honor your self. Forgive yourself and forgive others.
By: Tiffany Wright.