All Articles Tagged "mental health"
Not long ago, I was helping a friend behind-the-scenes at an event, and one of the featured guests had Alzheimer’s disease. We were expecting her to show up at a certain time for hair and makeup when we received a call from her husband. She had jumped out of the car they were in, and he couldn’t find her. It was unsettling, to say the least. When he called back a few hours later to say that he’d found her and everything was okay, we all breathed a sigh of relief.
That night, I couldn’t stop thinking about her. And Alzheimer’s. It’s such a mysterious disease. I start googling and discover that it’s on the rise. Right now, over five million people have it and by the year 2050 that number is expected to reach 16 million. That’s a lot of Alzheimer’s.
My mind shifts over to my friend Jonyse whose mother has it. Maybe she can give me some insight. Jonyse says that she never saw it coming. “I went to my mother’s place one day and it was unusually messy, and another time she had no food, even though she said she had just gone food shopping. When the bank teller called to say that she was coming in every week to get new cards because she couldn’t remember her PIN, I knew something was out of whack.”
She took her mother to the emergency room and they diagnosed her with dementia–11 years later, she has full-blown Alzheimer’s. When I ask Jonyse if her mother knows who she is she says,
“It feels like it. They’re still who they are, but on a different plane; in another dimension. She still speaks to me, but differently. I have to raise my level of consciousness when I’m around her because I have to be open to the fact that she’s still my mother; my greatest teacher. There are things that I can still learn from her.”
Read the full article here.
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults in the United States ages 18 and older, or 18 percent of the population. Included in this statistic is the one-third who actually get treated, which is an extremely small group. It left me thinking about the people who aren’t diagnosed or treated. It also left me thinking about my own situation. I often think about what depression looks like, it’s many faces, and it always brings me back to that Zoloft commercial where the white bouncy blob struggles to function and do simple tasks. A storm cloud settles over it. I can relate.
Sometimes I go through short periods where I’m questioning what my life means. Some days, like the bouncing ball in the Zoloft commercial, I’m disinterested when it comes to doing anything. There are some days where I feel like a lazy bum, and I’m ashamed of it, but I’m too lethargic to get up from my bed and be productive. Sometimes I get extremely overwhelmed, stressed, and I worry about everything. Some days I feel trapped in my own skin and just stuck in life.
There are times when I’m dealing with these sporadic bouts of despair. However, I haven’t been clinically diagnosed with depression. I am, for the most part, a happy person. But when things are bad, it feels as though they are on a downward spiral and I sink into it. Sometimes it’s the big stuff that triggers it—like being overwhelmed with work, weight gain, feeling unmotivated to write, or family issues—but often enough, feeling low is also triggered by other things as simple as crappy weather, being in stuck in a dismal city, a rough night’s sleep or too much sleep. I don’t know how to define what I feel as anything but depression, but there are times when I feel that because I haven’t been clinically diagnosed, my phases of sadness aren’t as valid, as strong or as clearly defined as depression as they are for those who have been clinically diagnosed and who are medically battling for their mental health. So, often times, I ignore it and wait until I get over it. I felt I was being politically incorrect by saying things like “I’m depressed,” so I sought out a deeper understanding of what it really means to be just that, even when there is no clinical diagnosis. I had to ask myself, am I just extremely bummed out or am I really depressed? And what is the difference?
I’ve found my own form of therapy in being able to have open discussions with friends whenever these dark feelings arise, and I’ve learned that there are levels to mental health that go way beyond a clinical diagnosis. I’ve learned that whether I’m bummed out for weeks on end without reason, or I’m temporarily feeling helpless because nothing seems to be looking up in my life, these aren’t issues that need validation in order for me to seek whatever help or counsel I deem necessary for them. So does not being clinically diagnosed invalidate my depression? Nope, not at all.
Is it just me, or does it seem like we blame everything on stress? Sure, stress is the culprit when it comes to many of our challenges in life, but I really can’t agree with stress being the only culprit.
I do agree that our ability to manage the stress in our lives is incredibly important, and mismanaging stress can lead to a host of other issues like overeating, poor sleep, and even changes in mood to name a few. But as women, and especially as moms, we have to remember that what’s going on with our bodies and minds is not always stress-related. Sometimes there are other issues at play.
Many medical issues can mimic the symptoms of stress, and since mothers tend to be juggling a lot anyway, we do run the risk of writing something off as stress-related when we really should be visiting our physician for evaluation and possible testing.
So how do we know when it’s just stress and when it’s something deeper? The truth is, we don’t always know. That’s why we need to seek professional help so we can figure out what’s really going on. In addition to seeking the opinion of a medical professional, we must pay attention to our gut. Don’t ignore that feeling you have that tells you something is just off. Is it possible your gut is wrong? Sure, it’s possible. Is it likely, though? Not really because no one knows your body as well as you do.
Here are seven common symptoms that may be more than stress. If these symptoms are present in your life and they have been ongoing (or you just have that funny feeling that something is wrong), please seek medical help. Although I am in no position to offer medical advice, I feel pretty comfortable urging you to get help if you think something may be wrong.
It’s not uncommon for people under a great deal of stress to have sleep issues. Insomnia, oversleeping, and unrestful sleep are common complaints. However, if your sleep issues linger, you should consider the possibility that you actually have a sleep disorder or some other medical problem that may be disturbing your normal sleeping pattern.
Weight Gain or Loss
I am an emotional eater, so I know that being stressed out can lead to indulging a bit too much. But if your eating and exercise habits haven’t changed and you find that you are gaining or losing weight at a rate that’s unusual for you, seek medical attention. Several medical conditions can cause a sudden fluctuation in weight.
What busy mom isn’t tired? I know I sure am. And although being extra tired when your stress levels are high is pretty normal, feeling drained and having an overwhelming sense of fatigue may be signs that something deeper is going on. Being exhausted all the time should not be your norm.
When under a lot of stress it’s normal to get irritated easily or even feel frustrated or anxious. But when your mood swings become very evident to the ones you love, and it starts to impact your relationships, consider the possibility that it’s more than just stress. Could you be suffering from depression? Is it possibly you have an anxiety disorder? Explore all possibilities if you or the people you love feel like something may be wrong.
An upset stomach, constipation, nausea, and diarrhea can all be triggered by stress. That said, chronic stomach issues should not be ignored. There are several gastrointestinal conditions that can show these exact same symptoms. If your stomach issues are ongoing you should visit your physician.
Loss of Sexual Desire
What mom hasn’t been just too tired to have sex? But being too tired to have sex sometimes is different from never wanting to have sex because you absolutely have no interest in it at all. If you feel like you have lost your sexual desire, stress may not be the culprit. Talk to your doctor to explore other possibilities.
Frequent Colds & Infections
It is true that chronic stress can lower your immunity and make you susceptible to frequent illness, but lowered immunity can also be a sign that a larger issue is at play. If you are becoming ill far more frequently than you ever have before, consider the possibility that a vitamin deficiency or underlying condition may be causing it and seek medical attention.
Martine Foreman is a freelance writer, lifestyle blogger, speaker and coach. To follow her journey as a busy mom, wife, and honest chick from Brooklyn, NY (now living in the burbs), check her out at CandidBelle.
May is Mental Health Awareness Month. I know, it seems like we’re recognizing a different disease every month. Breast cancer. Cystic Fibrosis. Autism. All of these conditions are serious, certainly, and it is to the benefit of public to raise awareness about their diagnosis and treatment to save lives. Why, then, do we need Mental Health Awareness Month? Many of us believe that mental health isn’t important, isn’t fatal, or that other aspects of our lives are more important, like physical health. However, mental health is a very serious issue in the Black community, and raising awareness of mental health issues will prove beneficial for us.
According to the US Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority health, African Americans are 20% more likely to report having serious psychological distress than Non-Hispanic Whites. This distress is caused by experience of systematic racism, like poverty, racial microagressions and some physiological conditions. By contrast, Black people are 50% less likely to receive medications to treat serious mental distress. This gap between experience and treatment of psychological stress can lead to longer, more intense suffering without the tools necessary for relief, namely therapy and medication.
Some of the difference between African American experience and diagnosis/treatment of mental health conditions comes from our community’s substandard access to all health care. Yet many of us have financial and practical access to health care and still refuse to utilize it for mental health services. Our reluctance to participate in mental health care is rooted in our cultural beliefs and stigmas surrounding our mental health.
Religion plays a large role in traditional Black communities, used as a source of comfort, strength and support. Many times, we rely on spiritual guidance for mental health issues when traditional therapy should be added to address psychological symptoms. Prayer and religious guidance have little effect on serious mental conditions, causing us to become more distressed. Other beliefs, like “therapy is for White people” and “Black people are too strong to have emotional problems”, further push African Americans away from the mental health care that we need.
What does all this mean for Black women? It means that when we experience lingering emotional distress, we don’t hear the messages that we need. It means that we can persist living in the “Superwoman” myth that we can have it all and do it all without showing weakness. We watch young, Black males suffer in silence until their suicides become a leading cause of death. We don’t realize that emotional disturbances like stress and depression are making us physically ill. We dismiss emotionally volatile behaviors in others as “cray-cray”. We don’t get help.
As a Black woman, I’ve personally experienced the effects of community stigma on my mental health. The first time I experienced symptoms of depression, I went to church. When prayer didn’t work, I thought that I was a failure. I never considered therapy because I never heard a Black person talk about it. I dismissed people with erratic behavior as “crazy”, not believing that they had a serious problem. I suffered for years before getting treatment. Those years of suffering could have been different if I’d known that I had a disease. If I hadn’t been afraid to go to therapy or take medication. If I hadn’t borne the shame I felt about my condition before I “came out” 10 years after diagnosis.
Mental health is as important, and as impactful, as physical health. Ignoring it, or not treating the signs of compromised mental health, has a detrimental effect on the quality of one’s life. That’s why Mental Health Awareness Month is so important, particularly for the Black community because we have so many barriers to overcome about mental health.
When you think of Jenifer Lewis, her larger-than-life personality is no doubt one of the first things that comes to mind. In virtually every role we’ve seen her in, Lewis is the boss, friend, mother, or auntie that will always say what’s on her mind and it’s that persona that almost stopped the actress from seeking treatment for her mental health issues more than 25 years ago.
“I was seeing a psychotherapist and that was very helpful, but I was hell-bent on not taking medication because I did not want it to interfere with that extra edge, that extra high that we get. A lot of people are addicted to the high,” she told us in an exclusive interview for Mental Health Awareness Month.
The “we” she spoke of are the 5.7 million adults in the United States currently living with bi-polar disorder, a mental health condition characterized by “unusual shifts in mood, energy, activity levels, and the ability to carry out day-to-day tasks,” according to the National Institutes of Mental Health.
“Sometimes I suspected that something was not quite right,” Lewis said. “Especially during the time when the AIDS epidemic was at its height and my grief was pretty much out of control. No one was talking about bi-polar disorder and mental illness back then. I had lost so many friends and loved ones. My spiral into depression was overwhelming; I could not function. That’s when I couldn’t ignore the fact that something was wrong anymore.”
Lewis learned of her condition in 1990, but the actual diagnosis was a much easier pill to swallow than the medication she’d need to treat her disorder. It would take another four years after the diagnosis for Lewis’ therapist to help her get over the “fear that [medication] would interfere with my performing, which of course it did not and it does not,” she said. But in the early years, Lewis noted she very much adhered to the unfortunate stigma surrounding treatment for mental illness. “I didn’t want to take the medication at all. Nobody ever really does.”
It didn’t take long for Lewis to realize her “edge” was still there. As her career flourished, she even starred in her own one-woman show about living with the mental condition. “I wrote a show, just as a joke actually, and called it ‘Bipolar, Bath, & Beyond,’ just to bring some humor to it. I wasn’t saying to myself that I’ll ‘come out’ with it – I didn’t think there was anything to ‘come out’ with – I was just writing another one-woman show about my life. Having been diagnosed with bipolar was, yes a fact, but [I said] let’s have fun with it. I wrote about it, sang about it, danced about it. I never thought it was something to be ashamed of.”
Thankfully, neither did Lewis’ friends or family members who were very supportive of the entertainer’s journey and proud of her for seeking help and encouraging others to do the same.
“There was no great reaction, everybody knew I was ‘crazy’ before and after the diagnosis. I was still me. It is true that [bi-polar disorder] is a big deal, but if you learn how to manage it, it doesn’t have to be a big deal. You can learn the skills to take care of yourself – just like I did.”
Part of taking care of herself was weathering the storm of trial and error when it came to finding the right medication levels for her disorder and tolerating a number of side effects in the process, like loss of sex drive. “One has to be very patient,” Lewis warned. “Everybody’s brain is different. It’s up to you to take the time with your doctor and figure it out.”
Lewis also wants people to take the time to really listen to their bodies — and their minds– noting, as only she can, that when dealing with issues of mental health being “P.C.” is of little importance. “I don’t care how you say it; get your f-cking a– to a doctor.
“You don’t want to wait until something horrible happens to get help. Admit that something’s not right. You might not know exactly what, but you still want to go get it checked out.
“A friend of mine noticed that I wasn’t right and loved me enough to tell me. That’s what I really want to get out there, that we all need to pay attention. Pay attention to your friends, pay attention to that cousin that jumps up on the picnic table at the family reunion and goes a little too ‘nutty,’ you know what I mean? Pay attention to that aunt that’s down in the basement that never comes upstairs. We have to pay attention to our friends, pay attention to your family and offer a hand.”
Soon, Lewis will be offering more insight into her life with bi-polar disorder by way of a memoir slated for publishing by Amistad/HarperCollins in 2017, which she already said is “a tale to tell.”
“All I have to say is get ready. It’s already a best-seller to me. I’m just real excited. I’m very humbled by the fact that I do have so much to say and I just hope that my walk, my honesty will make a difference for people and maybe motivate them. Tell the children to get ready.”
My story all began with a box of Yogi Tea.
I had a moment last week as I do every once in a while when it feels like the weight of the world is on my shoulders. I found myself reaching a low point recently that stemmed from thoughts of not being where I wanted to in different aspects of my life, such as my weight, my career, and my love life. The more I thought about it, the lower I sunk until I brewed myself a cup of Yogi brand green tea and the message on the bag read, “Happiness comes with contentment.” I thought to myself, Easier said than done…
I was left asking myself, “How could I find this happiness? How do I find contentment when I’m feeling so uncomfortable with the way things are going?” So I reached out to some friends and spoke to them about how I was feeling, and it took each of them pointing out my blessings for me to recognize that I have a lot to celebrate. Life happens, and small milestones tend to get lost in the fray as we wait and work for those big ones, the celebratory moments that seem so far away. We end up suffering from bouts of anxiety, stress, and depression. But what I took from my empowerment powwow with friends is that it’s important to celebrate ourselves no matter how small our accomplishments and that all begins with being mindful and knowing how.
You never really need an excuse to pop open a bottle of wine and toast to a good day in the comfort of your home, but it’s even more fun when you call up your girls and toast at happy hour. The more you acknowledge and reward yourself for all of your successes, including the minute ones, the MORE success you obtain based on the drive you incur to do more and celebrate even more. And more importantly, the better you will feel. It can be something as small as you losing an inch after starting a new diet plan. You may not be at your goal weight, but you’re one inch towards that goal. You might have a job offer waiting for you that requires you to be in a period of standstill for a bit, but you still have a job. Sometimes you just want life to pick up and zoom forward to the end of the tunnel to the triumphant final results, but in doing so, we miss the journey that got us there.
Take time for yourself each day and week to reflect on all of the little things. The small moments. Write them down in a journal. Write them on strips of paper and store them in a jar or box so that you can read them whenever you’re having a dark moment. Celebrating and rewarding yourself in any given moment allows you to experience self-fulfillment. It encourages the attitude that you don’t have to sit and wait for big things to happen because you can make the most of the blessings laid out for you in the present.
Life is about the small steps that contribute to the bigger picture and when we spend time focusing on what isn’t and what we wish to have and that which we don’t have, we create opportunities for negative energy to slip in and take control of our thoughts. So celebrate by toasting yourself. Celebrate by treating yourself. But most of all, celebrate by giving yourself a break.
Suicide is the third leading cause of death among youth between 10 and 19 years of age and the number is increasing. Although it is not always a comfortable topic, it is essential to know the warning signs and to know the right ways to react if you notice them. Parents, friends, teachers, and sometimes even strangers can help play a part when prevention and helping others is a priority in the community.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics these are the reasons the youth suicide rate has increased and some signs to look for:
Why has the youth suicide rate gone so high in recent years?
- It’s easier to get the tools for suicide (Boys often use firearms to kill themselves; girls usually use pills);
- The pressures of modern life are greater;
- Competition for good grades and college admission is stiff; and
- There’s more violence in the newspapers and on television.
Lack of parental interest may be another problem. Many children grow up in divorced households; for others, both of their parents work and their families spend limited time together. According to one study 90 percent of suicidal teen-agers believed their families did not understand them. (However, this is such a common teen-age complaint that other factors are playing a role, too.) Young people also reported that when they tried to tell their parents about their feelings of unhappiness or failure, their mother and father denied or ignored their point of view.
If your teenager has been depressed, you should look closely for suicide signs that he or she might be displaying:
- Has his personality changed dramatically?
- Is he having trouble with a girlfriend (or, for girls, with a boyfriend)? Or is he having trouble getting along with other friends or with parents? Has he withdrawn from people he used to feel close to?
- Is the quality of his schoolwork going down? Has he failed to live up to his own or someone else’s standards (when it comes to school grades, for example)?
- Does he always seem bored, and is he having trouble concentrating?
- Is he acting like a rebel in an unexplained and severe way?
- Is she pregnant and finding it hard to cope with this major life change?
- Has he run away from home?
- Is your teenager abusing drugs and/or alcohol?
- Is she complaining of headaches, stomachaches, etc., that may or may not be real?
- Have his eating or sleeping habits changed?
- Has his or her appearance changed for the worse?
- Is he giving away some of his most prized possessions?
- Is he writing notes or poems about death?
- Does he talk about suicide, even jokingly? Has he said things such as, “That’s the last straw,” “I can’t take it anymore,” or “Nobody cares about me?” (Threatening to kill oneself precedes four out of five suicidal deaths.)
- Has he tried to commit suicide before?
Yesterday, we, along with several other media outlets, wrote about the alleged cheating scandal between R&B singer Kehlani, fellow artist PartyNextDoor and NBA basketball player Kyrie Irving. What was once juicy and sensational, took a very real, very nasty turn as people used what they thought the story was, to attack Kehlani and her character.
When I wrote about the whole thing yesterday, I specifically mentioned the fact that I hoped she had positive, uplifting people around her. While people may try to make light of it, there is something so soul crushing about being berated and belittled by people who never have and likely never will meet you.
Unfortunately, yesterday all of the backlash got to her. And she posted an image on Instagram explaining how she tried to take her own life.
Later, she posted another image of the man she creates for saving her.
And then, lastly she offered even more of an explanation about what happened in her relationship with both Kyrie and PartyNextDoor.
A photo posted by The Shade Room (@theshaderoominc) on
You would think that Kehlani opening up about her feelings regarding the situation might elicit some type of sympathy. For some it has but there are still those who believe this is a way to get attention or to make people feel sorry for her, in light of what they perceived as mistakes. Trolls gonna troll. And I hope Kehlani really does distance herself from social media as she attempts to heal.
In the meantime, there have been well-wishes too. From the likes of Karrine Steffans, (Who’s currently going through her own drama.), to Erica Campbell.
See what they had to say below.
All of this b/c MAYBE she fucked whoever she wanted? Slut shaming drives women to suicide often. Ya'll gotta stop. pic.twitter.com/k34r14I6m0
— Mrs. Karrine Short (@karrineandco) March 29, 2016
I don’t usually do this. I don’t even know this pretty girl or the details of her situation but I saw her post about her suicide attempt. @kehlani yes God saved your life for a reason sweet heart! I’m praying God surround you with his love and his peace. Everything is gonna be alright cause when you search for God you will find him! You Are Loved! Sending Love & Blessings to you #kehlani 🙏🏽🙏🏽🙏🏽❤️❤️❤️
We’re praying for Kehlani and wishing her the best.
What To Do When A Co-Worker Spirals Out Of Control: An Interview With Katt Williams’ Former Personal Assistant
It’s no secret that Katt Williams is grabbing news headlines these day for bizarre incidents. One is more likely to see news about Williams’ arrests more than his comedy routine and, according to his former personal assistant, the incidents “are getting stranger.”
“I was in court many a time with Katt,” said Brooks Jackson Colyar, who worked as Katt’s personal assistant from fall of 2012 to February 2015. “But from what I have been hearing lately the situations are strange… I am really worried about him. I don’t think the people around him are taking care of him like he deserves to be taken care of.”
Like Colyar, many don’t know what to do when someone they work with is seemingly spinning out of control. According to Linda F. Williams, COO and founder of Whose Apple Dynamic Coaching Services, “There are often progressive signs leading up to a psychotic episode. The signs can be subtle. Yet, in hindsight they become a trail of breadcrumbs leading straight to the event. Depending on the core problem, these can be dangerous. At the time that someone ‘loses it’ is not the time for untrained individuals to intervene.”
Even if you feel you know your co-worker well, you can never predict how that person will handle stress or a personal crisis. Colyar is finding that out as she searches for answers about Katt’s current behavior. Colyar, who joined Katt’s team after her marriage to comedian Michael Colyar suddenly fell apart, handled an array of things for Williams–and she not only worked out of his house, she lived there.
“This isn’t the person I got to know so well. I would never say anything against Williams–he saved my life after my divorce by giving me a job and support. So the things in the news are really worrying me. I have never really known Katt to use drugs–I lived with him. And I have had my own past experience with drugs and my ex used drugs, so I know what drug use looks like and I didn’t see any of that in Katt’s house or from Katt. Even at one point he was apparently diagnosed as being bipolar, and even then he did not rely on medication. He worked out, avoided stress, and ate right,” she said. “And since I lived and worked out of his home, I got to see the other side of Katt. But it is true that if Katt feels he’s been disrespected, well then that’s when a different Katt surfaces. But people are always trying to provoke him for monetary gains.”
Colyar, who is now producing her own female comedy tour of U.S. military bases, said her time working with Katt was “fantastic” and reconciling her experience with what’s she’s been reading now about the comedian is almost impossible. While Colyar is no longer working with Katt and is judging the current situation from the outside looking in, if you are working with someone who appears to be suffering a mental or emotional breakdown there are some things you can do.
“When a boss or co-worker is spiraling out of control, the first step is to help them get out of the spiral. Ask them to go on a walk with you,” advised stress reduction expert and coach Melissa Heisler, author of From Type A to Type Me: How to Stop ‘Doing’ Life and Start Living It. “When we are in a stressful situation, our fight-or-flight limbic brain takes over. Unfortunately this is the part of the brain which runs on autopilot, resulting in cloudy thinking when it is engaged. By walking away from the situation, disengaging from it, we can deactivate our limbic brain. In doing so, we re-engage our conscious thinking mind, giving us the mental power to solve the stressful situation.”
In offering assistance, it’s important that you stay in control, Williams said. “Keep a calm demeanor and even-toned voice with the individual. The temptation will be to respond with commensurate emotion. Don’t do it. Calmly state that you wish to continue the discussion at a later time and remove yourself from the threat.”
If the situation is too tense for you to deal with, leave. Being around someone who is acting out of character can become dangerous. “Not all ‘losing it’ events are due to mental disorders. Yet, you are not likely to know whether it is or not,” Williams added. “Remove yourself as quickly and safely as possible from the situation and immediately report it to a person in authority. If you feel threatened report it. Do not second guess it. The authorities will sort it out. If you feel uncertain about reporting such behaviors, just remember the life that might be saved in the long run.”
Heisler echoed that advice, saying “If those steps fail, protect yourself by walking away. If the situation is escalating and the other person has no intention of calming down, walk away. Emotional energy is contagious. Being around someone out of control can negatively affect your own mood and clarity. Remove yourself from a toxic situation.”
You also want to be sure you discuss and report the situation or your concerns with HR. “Immediately report it to the appropriate individuals — his or her supervisor, personnel, whomever your internal protocol identify as the appropriate contact. Follow up any verbally reported incidents in writing . Because many workplaces have a no-tolerance rule against workplace violence, these incidents must be reported.”
Added Williams, “These are touchy situations. When a person is irrational, even the kindest gesture can result in a bad outcome. The best thing you can do to help that individual is to report the incident to the appropriate supervisory authorities. De-escalation of an event takes training and skill. Once the blowup occurs, it is best to safely remove yourself from the situation and keep very calm in doing so. Depending on the root of it, professional intervention might be required.”
According to Colyar, it is her concern that has compelled her to speak out when it comes to Katt. “I am a very private person and I would never want to say anything to upset Katt because he was so good to me. He saved my life! I want to keep my friendship with him intact. But I am hoping that by me talking out someone around him will step up and start taking control of the situation and make sure he is sleeping and being cared for.” If she could talk to Katt directly, Colyar said “I [would] tell him whatever he needs, I am here. I love and care for him. I will always be here for him when he needs. Katt is worth saving, and I just hope this happens.”
If you’ve followed any of the pieces written for this “Road to the Altar” column, you already know that while a wedding day is supposed to be one of the happiest days of your life, the time leading up to that day is a headache. Planning ain’t for everybody. It can be a seemingly nonstop headache filled with disagreements over everything from guest count to color choices. My wedding planning situation has been like that, and I think it got so bad for my stress levels as of late that something in my head snapped.
And I had a panic attack.
It happened late last month. I’m talking a full-blown panic attack where I couldn’t catch my breath in between sobbing and thoughts of just jumping out of a window. But since I live on the second floor of a three-story walk-up, I probably would have just twisted an ankle and then looked all kinds of foolish in my sleep dress sprawled out in the middle of my quiet Brooklyn street at the crack of dawn.
Other things had also been stressing me out, leading to my “moment.” Work stuff, issues with friends, money worries, my concerns about keeping my weight down, and apartment woes, but the wedding was the base of it. And certain opinions about said wedding had me worried that I was preparing for a marriage where people’s opinions would always be in the loop. That made me very uncomfortable. And that got my mind racing. That on top of the stress of answering questions about if certain patterns were okay, how catering was going to be set up, if my father and my fiancé’s mom could have extra seats for friends, trying to come up with deposit money, and making the time to do research just became a bit too much.
So I went home for a week. I went back to Chicago, holed up in my teenage bedroom with its bright blue walls, and just slept and ate. Each day had no set plan. I was tired of planning things.
“You want to use the car? Are you going anywhere today?” my mom would ask.
“Nope, I’m probably going to call it a night,” I would say as I prepared to go to sleep at 10 p.m. after being in the house all day with the ‘rents.
Many of us take days off of work to explore the world and do things for others, but I just needed that week to explore my mind and do a little something for myself. I just needed to be around people who would listen when I wanted to open up about my stress, and if nothing else, bring me food. Lots and lots of delicious food.
When I wasn’t eating, sleeping, or watching TV with a paper towel covered in peanuts and raisins next to me (I gave up candy and sweets for Lent, so that’s been my alternative), I was reading my Bible. I was looking to find my way back to a sense of peace, a sense of joy, and maybe some happiness, which I told you not too long before my “moment” I had very little of. I restored myself by being back at home with my parents, not letting anyone else know I was in town (lest they ask me to meet up–which would be planning for something all over again), and focusing on my mental health. I had been so busy ripping and running for a wedding I didn’t even want that much anymore, that I let it take toll on my mind.
A few weeks back in NYC and I do feel much better. I struggle sometimes when I have to have “What are we gonna do about ____?” wedding conversations with my fiance, but I’ve learned to find healthy ways to deal with my stress. Including telling him that “We’ll figure it out later” before changing the topic of conversation.
I also only get to wedding planning and doing research when I absolutely feel up to it. And when I feel myself getting overwhelmed in general, I zone out and try to find clarity through my mom, who still sends messages to check in (“Hang in there!!”), and through the Word. By taking things slow and not overextending myself, I’ve actually managed to get a lot more accomplished for the wedding. Including finding and putting down the deposit for a church, finding a makeup artist, finding a new caterer, a photographer, and checking out decor ideas for inspiration with my mom and planner. I’ve also found myself getting more excited about the wedding. Whoever thought that would happen?!
But more than anything, I’m realizing more and more what matters in the grand scheme of things. My relationships–with the Man upstairs, with my future husband, with my loved ones, and with myself. And I’m hoping to do a better job of being more kind to all four–especially the latter.