All Articles Tagged "mental health"

Why Self-Care Is So Important When The World Is Too Much

July 21st, 2016 - By Niki McGloster
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After President Obama’s PR perfect town hall meeting about race in America last Thursday, I was desperate to plan some distracting (and slightly drunken) weekend fun. In case you don’t have Twitter, woke friends or you’re living in the same land of delusion as Taylor Swift, the news cycle has been far more depressing than it’s been in a long time, especially for Black folks. In recent weeks, I’ve buried myself in the details of back-to-back shooting deaths of Black men and attacks on police officers without taking a real mental break. As a writer, it’s difficult to succeed without being in the know 24/7, but the rage and confusion I felt after watching President Obama and town hall goers gloss over the issue of policing in this country meant a mental vacation was mandatory for my sanity.

On any given day, with a few disparities based on socioeconomic status, African Americans are more likely to feel a sense of hopelessness and worthlessness when compared to White people. Then, imagine those same people constantly digesting the message that Blacks are disposable through the media every day. The mental pressure of both racism and feeling unsafe in your own environment causes higher-than-normal cortisol levels, which can lead to physical reactions like a weakened immune system and heart disease. It can even result in behavioral changes like overeating, heavy drinking and uncontrollable anger. And who wants to lose themselves because the world’s messed up? Nah.

The self-care you’d exercise to deal with everyday stress, like disconnecting from your work email and making a spa appointment, still applies in times of societal crisis. As the world seemingly unravels, find blocks of time to log off social media, hang out with friends (with your phone off) and create new, positive memories. Read something empowering like Sula by Toni Morrison and go to a boxing class (or just get active in general) to release built up anxiety. Or, take a boat ride around the Potomac River with friends like I did this past weekend. Just do anything to relax your mind and help reduce the negative effects of constant stress, and practice these coping methods often.

If you feel it’s selfish to ignore what’s happening in the world for 48 hours, you’re right. Petty people will assume things like the #KimExposedTaylorParty steal black folks’ attention away from “real issues,” but what they fail to realize is that many of us are begging for the mental relief that comes with celebrity clapbacks.

Truthfully, we all deserve some carefree moments. A few laughs with friends (and Twitter fam) far removed from the black hole of injustice is a welcomed psychological vacation. And we don’t owe anyone an apology for taking care of ourselves. Black death is traumatizing, and with the Trumps still trying to buy the White House, things aren’t necessarily looking optimistic out here. So, get your jokes off, ignore trolls and take care of yourself. I mean, you can’t help others unless you help yourself first, right?

According To A New Study, A Coloring Book Can Do The Mind — And Body — Some Good

July 6th, 2016 - By Victoria Uwumarogie
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People have been telling you time and time again that you should try coloring. There is even a coloring book for naturalistas to get you into the idea. And yet, you still haven’t bought yourself a coloring book and a fancy pack of colored pencils. But if you are constantly out here telling people how stressed you are and don’t know what to do about it, you really need to rethink your stance on adult coloring books. According to a new study, “art therapy” reduces stress levels to an amount that we’ve been underestimating.

Researchers at Drexel’s College of Nursing and Health Professions conducted a study for the publication Art Therapy called “Reduction of Cortisol Levels and Participants’ Responses Following Art Making.” They used “biomarkers” to measure stress levels, specifically the hormone cortisol through saliva samples taken from 39 adults between the ages of 18 and 59. These individuals were asked to take part in a 45-minute “art-making period,” and during such time, their cortisol levels were checked before and after.

There were options to color, of course, but also clay and collage materials. Study participants were told to use the materials as they pleased. And while just under half of participants stated that their art experience was limited, researchers found that the cortisol levels of 75 percent of the 39 adults lowered, some substantially. According to the firsthand testimony of one of the participants, “It was very relaxing. After about five minutes, I felt less anxious. I was able to obsess less about things that I had not done or need [ed] to get done. Doing art allowed me to put things into perspective.”

Researchers also found that about 25 percent of participants ended up with increased cortisol levels. But Girija Kaimal, EdD, who is an assistant professor of creative art therapies told the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s EurekAlert! that it doesn’t mean they were more stressed after art therapy.

“Some amount of cortisol is essential for functioning,” Kaimal said. “For example, our cortisol levels vary throughout the day — levels are highest in the morning because that gives us an energy boost to [sic] us going at the start of the day. It could’ve been that the art-making resulted in a state of arousal and/or engagement in the study’s participants.”

They also noted a small correlation between the age of participants and the outcome of their cortisol levels. Younger individuals had consistently lower cortisol levels after the 45-minute session. Kaimal pointed out that art could be the perfect remedy for stress for this group of individuals.

“I think one reason might be that younger people are developmentally still figuring out ways to deal with stress and challenges, while older individuals — just from having lived life and being older — might have more strategies to problem-solve and manage stress more effectively,” she said.

And this way of dealing with stress definitely sounds effective, as according to Nielsen, despite only one million copies of adult coloring books being sold in 2014, a whopping 12 million were purchased in 2015. More than 2,000 were published last year, as opposed to just 300 in 2014. And, as we all know, lower cortisol levels mean lower fat levels, and that’s good for the body.

Whatever your artistic background, five great options for folks looking to get into coloring include Color My Fro: A Natural Hair Coloring Book for Big Hair Lovers of All Ages, I Love My Hair: A Coloring Book of Braids, Coils and Doodle Dos, Calm the F–k Down: An Irreverent Adult Coloring Book, Color the 90’s: The Ultimate 90’s Coloring Book for Adults, and Mom Life: A Snarky Adult Coloring Book. Thank us later, sis.

18 Ways to Add More Joy To Your Day

June 30th, 2016 - By Kweli Wright
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Wouldn’t life be great if we could wake up daily in a joyful mood and move through the day without losing an ounce of that joy? Okay, maybe we could lose an ounce or two, but for the most part we would remain pretty happy. The thought of it feels good to us.

But we all know that finding and maintaining joy just isn’t that easy, especially when you are a busy mom with a ton and her plate. For many busy moms, the steps needed to add more joy to your day can prove to be quite tough. After all, who has time to worry about joy when you have work to do, bills to pay, kids to raise, and places to be. Of course, we all know how important joy is, but achieving it consistently can seem impossible.

Yet, here is what we all must acknowledge and embrace as mothers; moving through life feeling weighed down and depleted is no way to live. It’s not just bad for us, but it can really do damage to our kids. You see, the way we live life teaches them a lot about how to live life. Do you want your kids to grow up thinking that joyful living is some elusive dream? We want them to feel like joy is attainable.

So, when life is too much to bear and you just want to crawl under a rock and take a 20-hour nap, how on earth do you add more joy to your day? It isn’t always easy, but I think these suggestions are a start. Doing these things doesn’t make life perfect, and it won’t fix any major dilemmas you face in an instant, but it sure will leave you with days that have a lot more joy and a lot more hope. You’ll take that, right?

BaeHappy

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Smile… even when you don’t want to.

No News Is Good News: How Avoiding Sad Stories Protects My Mental Health

June 15th, 2016 - By Tracey Lloyd
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I barely watch the news. Sometimes it makes me feel guilty, like I’m an uninformed rube or something, but I don’t avoid the news because I don’t like to keep up with current events. I do it because news stories, like those about the Orlando mass shooting, make me very anxious and very depressed.

The Orlando shooting happened overnight, so I had a brief respite from the breaking story while watching “CBS Sunday Morning,” the kind of news program that fills my need for information. That was until the “Breaking News” graphic covered the screen and I was filled with dread; no TV station ever breaks into programming for a positive story. That’s when I learned what had happened and I was sad, for the families of the victims, for my gay and lesbian friends who lost a sense of security, for the country.

My sadness isn’t clinical, like my depression. You can’t treat it with medication. But it activates the constant thrum of melancholy that I feel every day, even under the best circumstances. It triggers a litany of negative thoughts about when the violence will be turned against a group of Black women like me, and how much worse it has to get before our laws are changed. The thinking and the over-thinking — plus the positive affirmations I need to help move my mind in a good direction — are exhausting. Actually, it’s exhausting to go through the process on a regular day. Add in a national tragedy and the chatter in my brain becomes unbearable.

Added to the story about the Orlando shooting — as happens with all public violence — is the topic of mental illness. The shooter always has a mental illness, or has seen a therapist, or maybe had a behavioral problem as a child. This layer of the story is something that I always ignore. There are millions of people with mental illnesses who aren’t violent. Who don’t buy guns or knives or weapons of any kind. Who are more of a danger to ourselves than we could ever be to others. But the general public will learn, again, that people with mental illness are dangerous killers to be feared and possibly locked up. This makes me just as angry as anything else, ready to don a t-shirt saying “I Have Bipolar and I’m Not Violent.” Not that the rabid news media would pay attention to a bit of truth.

So what do I do to maintain my sanity? Mostly, I ignore the daily drips of information. I never watch TV news, shielding myself from stories that aren’t intended to be useful but are meant to boost ratings. I don’t click on Facebook or Twitter posts about the Orlando shooting; I read the headlines and move along. I refuse to engage in conversations about the violence. Anger isn’t my best emotion, and I choose to avoid i,  lest it turn into anxiety and depression, which it usually does. I look at pictures of puppies and kittens and babies as a palate cleanser and a therapeutic tool to reset my mind.

You might think I’m a baby who can’t handle the real world, but I disagree. Mass killings aren’t normal, and I refuse to treat them as such. And I’m adult enough to know what I need to do in order to keep myself happy and healthy. So bring on the kitties and just let me watch.

For Your Mental Stability, You Should Start Unfollowing And Blocking People On Social Media

June 14th, 2016 - By Victoria Uwumarogie
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Remember when social media was a new thing? Or more importantly, when it used to be fun?

I’m talking about the days before mama, grandma, and your aunties and ‘nem joined and started judging your every comment, picture, and relationship status update.
In the early days of MySpace and Facebook, you would gather up your pictures on a scanner (terrible quality by the way) to share with your bunch of friends (or the thousands of strangers you decided to let into your world), excited to interact with people you met at college events and orientations, or just through the world wide web. It was all so simple.

But I should have known that things were going to go downhill when they introduced the “Note” option on Facebook. Out of nowhere, you were being tagged in long messages from ex-boyfriends, stressed friends and the like, where absolutely too much information would be shared. Don’t even get me started on the “As this year comes to a close” notes.

And then, as big events rolled around, whether it be holidays or presidential elections, you started seeing a different side of the “friends” you pretended you knew. Irritated by their rants about your favorite candidate, tired of their gripes with small, harmless things, inundated with subliminal attacks on significant others, former friends, and “haters,” hell, even beefs with the Christmas holiday, it was as if people started to have too much to say and share. Nothing was the same.

At this point, you log into Facebook and other social media pages and find yourself bombarded with all kinds of things that don’t really enlighten or enrich your day to day. Instead, they get on your absolute last nerve. And according to research, these messages and Debbie Downer people can actually leave you depressed.

In a study done by the University of Pittsburgh in March, 1,787 American adults were asked to share how much time they spent on social media, and they had their risk of depression assessed through a questionnaire. What researchers found was that, on average, people spent about 61 minutes on at least one platform during the day. The more time spent on it, the greater the risk of feeling depressed. As Cosmo pointed out from the study:

What you’re exposed to when you dive into your social accounts is also a huge player in how positively or negatively they affect you. Consider signing on to a feed filled with angry political rants, updates on breaking tragic news items, and hundreds of posts about people struggling with, say, debilitating illnesses or interpersonal turmoil. Compare this to perusing a newsfeed peppered with adorable animal photos, funny quips, and inspiring quotes. Chances are, the latter would be more likely to make you smile while the former would make you feel anxious, aggravated, or sad — no matter how strong your self-image is.

I wouldn’t say that I was left feeling down in the dumps by the actions and statements of the people I followed, but I definitely found that my mood would morph when I would come across certain negativity. Irritated by bait set to cause trolls to attack people comfortable in their skin (from women without makeup to plus-size girls and even EJ Johnson), over the shots of people sending the most mindless and offensive memes around with the caption “#facts,” and exhausted by the pointless, self-absorbed images people would post back to back to back in a day, I thought that I just needed another sabbatical from social media–my second in a year. But as my friend pointed out, I just needed to do some cleaning.

“Unfollow them,” she said.

Could it all be so simple again? In the back of my head I always imagined that such a move would create drama. In college, if you unfollowed an individual, say, on Facebook, they would notice. We were so thirsty to have a gang of “friends” that looking and seeing a decrease in just one would leave people feeling some type of way. But as she pointed out, “You have to filter out the negativity. Just follow people and things that bring you a sense of peace. There’s so much foolishness out there.”

And so I did. I clicked and clicked and clicked unfollow until I was left with the people I actually knew from school, media work, and my old neighborhood. That and fitness enthusiasts to keep me inspired. No more looking at friends of friends I had never spoken to, mean-spirited pages, or just flat-out ugliness. It has made surfing social media to be inspired, uplifted and enlightened so much easier…and dare I say, fun.

And I think that’s what more of us need to do for our mental stability and in our search for positivity. Some of us often feel trapped staring at feeds filled with foolishness and videos with the most ridiculous behavior to the point where we feel drained after scrolling through after a few minutes, but continue staring at the shenanigans anyway. And considering that we spend so much of our day on social media (at least an hour based on the aforementioned study), we need to do a more thorough job, for ourselves, of being better gatekeepers to the things that infiltrate our psyche and our spirit.

Social media is a big part of the way we communicate, get our news, and just stay connected to the world around us. Considering that it is something that will likely expand and be around until the next great tech development surfaces, for the sake of your sanity, know what to invite in, and what to block (or unfollow) out.

 

Women Are Twice As Likely To Experience Anxiety, According To Research

June 6th, 2016 - By Jazmine Denise Rogers
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Women are twice as likely to struggle with anxiety disorders in comparison to men, new research from the University of Cambridge, which was published in the journal Brain and Behavior, suggests.

According to The Independent, researchers also found that the disorder, which is estimated to affect four in every 100 people, disproportionately impacts those under 35 years of age.

“Anxiety disorders can make life extremely difficult for some people and it is important for our health services to understand how common they are and which groups of people are at greatest risk,” said Olivia Remes with the Department of Public Health and Primary Care at Cambridge. “By collecting all these data together, we see that these disorders are common across all groups, but women and young people are disproportionately affected. Also, people who have a chronic health condition are at a particular risk, adding a double burden on their lives.”

It’s currently unclear why anxiety seems to attack certain marginalized groups at greater rates than others, but according to Glamour, one licensed clinical psychologist, Dr. Alicia H. Clark, speculates that the heightened risk for women my be explained by the fact that, historically, we’ve assumed the role of caretaker, which has caused us to be more protective and cautious. Brain chemistry differences between men and women may also play a role, Clark speculates. Apparently, women’s brains may be more optimized for intuitiveness and analytical thinking while men’s brains are enhanced for motor skills.

“This brain difference is important when it comes to anxiety, or the ability to predict, feel, and protect against future risk,” Clark says. “For better or worse, women appear to be better able to identify and think about future risk, and this can translate into experiencing more anxiety.”

Hormones may also play a role.

“Many studies have noted a correlation between female hormone fluctuation, emotional sensitivity, and anxiety,” Clark explained. “Female hormones appear to facilitate more acute experiences of emotions which can lead to more anxiety.”

“We hope that, by identifying these gaps, future research can be directed towards these groups and include greater understanding of how such evidence can help reduce individual and population burdens,” said Carol Brayne, director of the Cambridge Institute of Public Health.

Can Race And Class Affect A Person’s Ability To Receive Therapy For Their Mental Health?

June 2nd, 2016 - By Charing Ball
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Woman in therapy. Photo: Shutterstock

Woman in therapy. Photo: Shutterstock

At some point, Black folks are going to have to realize that we are on our own.

This is especially true if you are poor and Black.

What am I talking about?

I’m talking about therapy. And how CNN is reporting that Black people are less likely to get an appointment with a therapist based on the color of our skin.

More specifically:

To study whether therapists had biases, researchers hired actors to record voice messages for 640 therapists in New York. In all the messages, the actors read scripts saying they had been feeling down, had insurance and would like to make an appointment.

The scripts varied the names, vocabulary and grammar to reflect race and class differences. For example, the name Amy Roberts was supposed to indicate that the caller was a white middle-class woman, whereas Latoya Johnson was used for a black middle-class woman. The scripts for working-class individuals used more slang and some grammatical errors.

The researchers waited one week for the therapists to return the calls, which went to a voice mailbox created for the study. The researchers recorded whether the therapists agreed to see the new client and whether they could accommodate the desired time, which was a weekday evening.

Middle-class black women and men were about 30% and 60% less likely, respectively, than their white middle-class counterparts to hear back from a therapist agreeing to see them. Working-class individuals fared even worse: Women and men, regardless of race, were about 70% and 80% less likely, respectively, to get an appointment, compared with white middle-class individuals.

No surprises there. Still, this is kind of depressing – pun intended.

According to CNN, the study, which appeared in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior, was authored by Heather Kugelmass, a doctoral student in sociology at Princeton University. Generally speaking, it is best to not make sweeping statements based off of a single study, but as CNN has pointed out, Kugelmass’s study also mirrors previous research, which has suggested that various other biases including income and weight may hinder a client from receiving proper mental health treatment from a therapist.

The article also mentions that working-class people were also less likely to get a call back at all.

The current study found that therapists’ response rate was low in general, with only 44% returning the call. In many cases, the therapist left a message saying he or she did not have availability: Only 15% of inquiries resulted in a therapist offering an appointment time.

Therapists were less likely to call back if the clients sounded black and working-class. Only 34% of black working-class individuals got a call back, compared with 49% of black middle-class and 51% of white middle-class individuals.

“As consumers, or potential consumers, of mental health care, we would like to think that everyone deserves a response,” Kugelmass said.

Overall, 28% of the middle-class white individuals seeking care were offered an appointment, compared with 17% of the middle-class black group and 8% of the working-class white and black groups.

What’s interesting here is just how dismal the response rates to folks’ mental health help queries are in general. Is anyone taking mental health seriously here? I mean, this is America. The place where people roll up into movie theaters and start shooting all because some strange voice in their heads told them to do it. We better start taking mental health seriously.

But back to Black folks…

There is this common belief among many that Black people are anti-therapy. While not conclusive, this study does raise the poignant question of what happens when Black folks make the effort to help themselves but are still rejected? And perhaps the reason many of us don’t seek out therapy is because we already know that people are not interested in helping us.

Personally, I have had good experiences with therapy, although I do feel that race was one factor in my decision to stop going. (My therapist was White and young. And while she was very insightful, due to my history with White folks in positions of power, I just couldn’t develop the trust needed on my end to be fully comfortable telling her all of my business).

I also want to take this opportunity to point out that Black people help everybody. No, for real. Just check out this article on a 2012 W.K. Kellogg Foundation report, which suggested that Black people are more likely to donate to a charity than their White counterparts. And while you’re at it, make sure you check out this video by ABC News on another study, which suggested that Black people are eight times more likely to be heroes.

It’s a damn shame that we can’t always expect the same kind of empathy and compassion back.

Nayla Kidd And Why Doing “Crazy” Things Doesn’t Mean You Have a Mental Illness

June 2nd, 2016 - By Tracey Lloyd
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nayla kidd explains featBy now, we’ve all read about Nayla Kidd, the Columbia University sophomore who ran away from her life and was thought missing for several weeks. Since the true story of Kidd’s disappearance broke, I’ve seen the scuttle on Facebook and Twitter hypothesizing that she was suffering from depression. Based on her own words, I’m going to refute that notion. I know what it’s like to be a depressed Black woman at an Ivy League institution and it looks nothing like Kidd’s behavior.

First, let me get this out of the way: yes it’s hard to be a Black woman at a large university and in the sciences. There aren’t many people who look like you and there aren’t many people who understand you. But when your mother is an academic and you went to prep school in Ojai, California – one of the whitest, most exclusive enclaves in the United States – I’m going to go with the fact that you’re used to a low-minority environment and that you have support available in your family. The fact that Kidd seemingly didn’t talk to her mother points to some family issue rather than a mental health issue. But I digress.

When I was a freshman at Yale, I suffered a little from Little Fish/Big Pond syndrome. For the first few months, I was sure that the admissions office had made a mistake, that I didn’t belong in school with the brilliant people around me. Soon I figured out that everyone else felt that way too, which made things a little better.

Then, I started not being able to pay attention in class. I was sleepy all the time. I couldn’t focus on my reading. I stopped going to classes because I just couldn’t get out of bed. I worried again that I wasn’t smart enough and got an F in some science class, not because I couldn’t do the work, but because I didn’t show up for the exams.

I tried to hide my grades from my parents, and I was worried about what they’d say, but they handled the failing grade better than I did. We chalked it up to me being away from home for the first time and the stress of an only child managing shared living spaces.

The next semester, I returned to school and felt the same way I had initially. I couldn’t concentrate, I couldn’t find anything to hold my interest. I started drinking with my friends every weekend. I withdrew from other social activities. Again, my grades suffered because I didn’t have the focus or energy to go to class or study. I spent most of my time in my tiny bedroom, kicking out my roommate and her boyfriend when I wanted to be alone, which was most of the time.

My behavior during that time looks nothing like that of Nayla Kidd, who actually had the energy and the wherewithal to create a new life for herself. Had she been depressed — or even suffering from anxiety — her symptoms would have paralyzed her into inactivity. Yes, she was sick of her life and didn’t know how to manage it, but by her own words, Kidd just wanted to get away. Depression doesn’t look like leaving your life for a new one. It looks like withdrawing from the life you have and not wanting to live period. I’m not saying that Nayla Kidd doesn’t have issues, but according to her self-described behavior, mental illness probably isn’t one of them.

Depression is a serious disease. It’s not the catch-all description for people when they’re sad or stressed or fed up, even though all of those emotional states can trigger a depressive episode. We need to be careful to understand what mental illness really looks like so that we can help the people who really need serious help and not put labels on those who might have other problems to solve.

Chekierra Parker On Bouncing Back After Anxiety Attacks And Depression Left Her Jobless And Homeless

June 1st, 2016 - By Lauren R.D. Fox
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Franklin, Louisiana, native Chekierra Parker is on a mission to raise awareness about how mental health illnesses can affect one’s employment, housing status, and even familial relationships. We reached out to the 26-year-old counseling grad student to learn more about the motivation for her undertaking and Parker opened up about the coping mechanisms she’s used to overcome her own issues, like persistent anxiety attacks and bouts of depression, as well as her plans to pay it forward to other millennials of color affected by mental health illnesses.

MadameNoire (MN): How did determine you were suffering from depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)?
Chekierra Parker (CP): I found out when I started to see a counselor, psychiatrist and social worker. I know something was wrong [because] I used to sit in the bed and cry. [And] I didn’t want to do anything. I [also began] pushing the people that loved me away and I just knew something was wrong. So I went to a social worker and the first thing he said was “you have to use what you were taught from your social work studies.” So, I began to have sessions with him and later began seeing a psychiatrist. She [the psychiatrist] diagnosed me after I told her about the past trauma I experienced and the symptoms I was experiencing. Afterward, she put me on anti-depressants and medication that would allow me to sleep.

MN: What triggered your mental health issues? 
CP: I began to have anxiety attacks at my jobs, despite sustaining very good jobs. It was a cycle—one job would let me go and I would find another until the anxiety attacks would start again. My jobs would let me go because they saw me as a threat because of all the anxiety attacks. Because I couldn’t sustain a job, I couldn’t sustain a home or a car. I ended up moving in with a friend but that didn’t work out so I ended up losing the car that I had, but I was still in school. After receiving a financial refund, I bought a $400 car from my uncle and would sleep in it in apartment parking lots. I would try to blend in my car with the residents’ vehicles and when daytime would come I would go to the library and get myself together. I would also go to the CVS bathroom to flat iron my hair because the library and Walmart didn’t have an electric plug in their bathrooms. [In the meantime] I kept applying to jobs but for the most part something would come up that would hold me back. For example, my driver’s license was suspended or my car wouldn’t make it to an interview. That’s basically how anxiety attacks triggered my depression and PTSD—things not going well with my family or friends and not being able to hold a stable job. The only thing that sustained me during that time was food stamps; that’s how I ate.

MN: Did anyone in your family step up to get you the help that you needed?
CP: To be honest, no. Not at all. Everything was becoming horrible. I had a mental breakdown at my last job and a crisis unit got me from my job and placed me into a mental institution. While I was in the mental institution, everyone would tell me “Use what you were taught to get yourself out of this.” Other than that, no one gave me an encouraging hand. Some people thought it was a joke or that it was funny that I was placed in a mental institution. The only thing that kept me going was God. I knew he made a promise to me: He told me he would renew my strength. So basically I didn’t ask anyone for anything. [When I was released] from the institution, I would still sleep in my car or on cold nights sleep in a Mission’s shelter.

MN: What coping mechanisms were you taught that helped you manage your anxiety attacks during this time?
CP: For me, I have to stay away from things that stress me out. I am not saying that I’m living a stress-free life but I [focus] on living an unnecessary stress-free life. For example, I moved to New Orleans two years ago but have no friends. So I’m just focused on doing my school work or on social media all the time. So, sometimes I have to catch myself from entering depression mode. So instead of focusing on that, I tell myself to read to perfect my craft of learning more about mental health issues. I also use positive affirmations as coping mechanisms, as well.

MN: Why do you think Black people shy away from addressing mental health issues, whether it concerns themselves or family members?
CP: People know that other people are very judgmental. They are very dependent on what other people have to say and how other people feel about them. [When people speak about] mental health issues, it becomes very emotional. When people find out you have a mental illness, they immediately ask “Are you crazy?” That’s when the jokes or bashing comes in. Also, some people don’t want to admit that some mental illnesses come from genetics.

MN: What can you tell us about your business, New Season?
CP: New Season is just a platform at the moment for others to gain support and awareness. I’m currently in graduate school for my Master’s to become a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC). After I overcame my own trials with my mental health illnesses, I knew I had to change my course of study. Once I graduate with my LPC, I will turn New Season into a mental health agency. Currently, the platform is for motivating others and sharing my story.

Pop Mom: Caring For A Mom With Alzheimer’s

May 19th, 2016 - By Erickka Sy Savane
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Uncle Bill Palmer and Aunt Babe.

Uncle Bill Palmer and Aunt Babe.

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.”

That’s refreshing.

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