The Holidays and Mental Health

Thanksgiving is historically known and intended for a time of gratitude.* For many, finding something to be grateful for is easier said than done. People suffering from mental illness struggle from one minute to the next trying to find even the smallest of happiness. Caregivers of those with struggles also find their own battle to continue holding sincere smiles

If you know someone has struggles (mental health disorders or others), loss of loved ones (hard to deal with during the holidays for many), trouble finding joy (pessimistic)…. don’t just “consider” reaching out, if you care to see how they are, be like Nike and just do it. It could end up meaning so much more to them than you realize. If it’s not a blessing in their eyes, then consider what was lost by doing a good thing for a short moment of your time? I am certain you will find it was still worth it.

For those who need mental health outreach please consider texting: 741741 or calling: NATIONAL SUICIDE PREVENTION LIFELINE 1-800-273-8255 (please note that this is not solely for suicide prevention and can assist with any urgent emotional needs)

*This is from a US culture perspective and not an assumption that everyone believes in celebrating this holiday in the same way

The Same Apartment, Very Different Lives

Our lives looked very different from so many points of view and yet we were in the same place. She grew up with strong parents. They had good paying jobs and took care of their family, were respected in the community, and taught their daughters ethics, morals, and values. Mine struggled to keep jobs, had drugs/alcohol problems, inappropriate sexual parties, and violence surrounded our family on a regular basis. She had two beautiful babies out of wedlock and struggled, despite her family upbringing. I watched the girls for her while I attended college and tried to get out of our neighborhood. We both heard the same stories about the people we knew being shot on the corner of our street, wounded and bleeding, never to be reported on by the news/media. We saw the girls we went to school with turn into prostitutes, thinking they were doing what was necessary to survive financially, losing all their innocence, desensitizing themselves, and all sense of who they truly are as a human. She would complain about those girls, and how much money they were making, while she struggled to pay the bills with her legit job. It didn’t seem fair to anyone. I continued going to school and got jobs that paid higher salary, I can only imagine how much she resented me as I left the area and lost contact with her. We lived in the same town, the same apartment, and walked out the same door every day to face the world. The difference for each of us was black and white. Can you guess who was who?

Striving to Thrive, Her Story of Trauma

She told me that she understood everything happens for a reason, and that what happened to her was somehow meant to be.

She shared her experience of abuse that started in childhood and how it was suppressed throughout adolescence and young adulthood. The realization she now contains of relationships that were ruined, the psychological damage that was done, and the emptiness that was caused by one person to so many. It pained me to hear how she still had healing to do because of it all.

I saw two major things in her story:

1) This woman is striving to find something good, out of something awful that happened to her (she continues to carry so much courage)
2) This woman is in so much pain from something that she did NOT deserve to go through that she struggles to see who she is now (she is weighed down in mental fog to think she “earned” something bad to come into her life)

Here’s what can be learned from this one story…terrible things happen. Sometimes, terrible things happen to good people and it crushes their spirit.
Digging deep inside is sometimes the only way to thrive (not just strive) passed the evil that weighs us down. If our spirit was a candle….someone who wants you to be in the dark with them will blow it out. That does not mean you need to stay in the dark! Find a match and light that baby back up!

My hope for anyone, who has been weighed down in depression by trauma, is that you see your true beauty inside and accept that we may never know a logical reason to every bad thing that happens, and it does not need to stop you from being your amazing, beautiful self! So don’t let the trauma win, shine bright again.

Hurt People Hurt People

This saying has been going around in so many circles that it makes my head spin. Whether the rich want to be richer by way of manipulating people’s emotions, or the empathic want to spread love to those who need love to gain more empathy themselves, one thing is made certain, God takes note of the heart, not man. It is not our place; however, it is important to recognize that he does not want us to be treated as doormats, so he gave us discernment. How strong is your discernment in this area of life? Let us look at a couple examples and see. In the case of a missing parent the term may suggest that the parent in question is a hurt individual and therefore inflicting their hurt onto those they are not around by being absent. Discernment would then teach us that it is more probable that having the parent around could cause more harm than good and allowing the parent to be “missing” would be in the best interest of the child (still loving and praying from afar while possessing healthy boundaries). On the flip side, if someone has the direct intention (whatever their motive) to come into someone’s life simply to inflict hurt and/or pain then they are not only perpetuating more hurt and unnecessary psychological damage but breaking down someone’s faith and love they already maintain. Side note: Many may argue that someone who has faith would not be shaken from it. It does not matter how strong you feel your faith is, Jesus warned us that we will ALL fall short. No one is indestructible and to think otherwise is very dangerous. He himself threw tables in upset over how people were behaving (if you do not know where that is then I urge you to read your bible), would we not get to that point as well? Are you a better human than Jesus? I certainly am not. Back to the example: It is cruel to believe that you should put yourself in a situation that God has shown not healthy for you, and those that attempt to come around with continued UNHEALED hurt are essentially mocking God (not just you). How do we know if they are unhealed or not? Time and discernment. There are gangs of people out there using this well-known phrase to their advantage (again, for whatever their motive) and making a living wage on it while also betting on the idea that kindhearted people will support them. Guess what, they are right because kindhearted people do support each other, and God-fearing ones know how to discern (by his confirmation) who those people are and/or when to get closer to them. Can God’s people be misled? Of course, and God will walk them through that fire and out to the other side, but why go through something that he did not intend on having you learn from in the first place? Maybe you already learned that lesson? I may be wrong (because I am an imperfect human) however I believe that it is VERY important to have a healthy sense of ego. This is not to say be egotistical, and this is not to say to be devoid of ego all together. I came to this conclusion because of the problem I see in our culture right now. It is that people feel the need to be on one side or the other. Why? We all must live here RIGHT NOW. That is not being on the fence with faith in God, that is having the faith that God will handle it better than my skewed knowledge of it. So, it would make more sense to take notice of both sides and allow things to play out in the way that God oversees. Do you believe you ARE God, or simply have God within you? Do you feel hurt people deserve to be loved even while dealing with their hurt? What about continuing to hurt to the point of spreading their hurt to you and/or others? Do you feel your faith is strong enough to handle what God put in front of you? Have you discerned that what is in front of you is for you, or is that your will? Do hurt people hurt other people? Sometimes. Can and should you love those that hurt? Always. Do you need to accept someone into your life that is hurting? If you choose to. Do you need to accept someone inflicting hurt into your life? The answer to that should be taken to God.

Equality, Inclusion, and Reevaluation…Where Do You Stand?

For generations women have been fighting for equality in the workplace. It stemmed from a time when women were working at home, raising children, keeping a clean house, being the chef in their own kitchen, managing schedules of their family, and some were also the secretary of their husbands. Often women had no money of their own, unlike the men who were making the money outside the home.

The right to have some money of their own for the work they did was not uncalled for, however the feminist movement took it in another direction. Women began to start in the workforce, aiming to someday be seen as equal in the same positions of “power”. It has happened, women got their way and there are many who have not only made it to the top of the food chain (so to speak) but also exceeded many men in the same fields.

So, are women happy now? Many men are not and so the balance remains off. Some men are now fighting back and asking for women to be more feminine and appealing to them (their wording not mine), but rightfully so from their perspectives. That just upsets some women more. But think of this: These men are being told by most modern women that they want to be “wanted”, “needed”, and treated like a “lady” in the same breath that they are saying “I am your equal in every way”.  It seems to confuse some people (in both genders). How can a woman be equal in every way and still ask to be treated as a more delicate vessel? It is not as complicated as people make it.

Today the lines are becoming blurred by the notion that we need to be so inclusive that we cannot decide what gender we are anymore. It is simple when we think of it from another perspective. When it is learned that a hammer is a strong instrument used to get certain jobs done, it is not looked at or handled like it will break under a small amount of pressure. A hammer is used to fix and/or create incredible things and its value is appreciated. When a teacup is taken out from a cabinet, it is not slammed on the counter, or it will break because it is indeed more delicate, and yet it can withstand the boiling temperature of tea (and yes, some are painted to be more attractive). Before you get mad at my examples keep reading.

Men are (typically) born with more testosterone…they are more masculine BY NATURE. Women are (typically) born with more estrogen…. they are more emotional BY NATURE. These are facts. Back to the example: Hammers are important things that were created to help us get things done. Teacups are beautiful vessels that were created to help keep us nourished. Both are equally important in their own ways. Both are equally a financial benefit in our lives and depending on the budget, a more expensive version may be acquired. It depends on the individuals wants and needs as to which version they choose, but it does not make either instrument any less valuable because they are not chosen by someone, it just means that instrument has not found its true home yet.

So, as society keeps fighting to be inclusive in every way, ask yourself…. are you equal where you stand currently? If not, why are YOU still standing there instead of finding the place that you belong? Are you a hammer in the China cabinet, or a hammer in the kitchen cupboard? Is it time to reevaluate the place you reside?