Everyday Inspiration; Day 15: Take a Cue from Your Reader

Good Afternoon, World!!! Today’s assignment for Finding Your Everyday Inspiration is to take a cue from you my reader. A few days ago I asked you to give me some suggestions. I didn’t get as many suggestions as I would have liked however I did get some.

It appears from what I received from the feedback I got is that the answers were all different however one thing everyone was in agreement with. That something is to continue with what I do in regards to sharing my journey. I guess it gives people “hope” even those individuals who “don’t struggle with mental illness.”

Another common theme amongst most of the feedback I received was the education piece of my blog. The part of my blog that I’ve pretty much failed to do. Something, I hope to start doing it again. It is my plan to start it no later than the New Year (2018). Yes, I realize that the New Year is two and half months away but it gives me time to do research. Research that realistically will be hindered by the upcoming holidays which is why I’m giving myself two and half months. An idea I have is to get suggestions from you on what type of educational topics you would like me to discuss regarding anything to do with mental health (i.e. Treatments, Peers, Clinicians, Diagnosis).

Education and sharing my personal journey may have been a common theme amongst the suggestions, I received however I got some ideas that are all great. Some are a little bit controversial however those topics are necessary to the subjects of mental health and/or a persons recovery.

One such controversial topic is one’s faith, spirituality, and/or religion. One thing that is in agreement among those who have a mental health diagnosis is that one’s faith is key to one’s recovery. Yes, faith or religion can be a controversial topic however spirituality is a topic that needs to be continued to be discussed. Discussed so those who don’t have lived experience know that it plays a major role in recovery and the treatment they may need and/or desire.

Another such controversial topic is politics. Politics play a major role in mental health. Maybe not directly to one’s diagnosis but in other ways. Ways that it could and have effected those with a mental health diagnosis. In one such political topic related to mental health is health care. Having the proper health care and insurance is key to one’s recovery and treatment.

Since we are on the topic of health care someone did bring up the topic of it and how both mental health and physical health can effect each other. This is a topic that is near and dear to my heart. It’s near and dear to my heart for many reason and I am more than sure that when the physical health topic is brought up again, those reasons will be more clear.

As I end this particular post, I want to remind you that if you have any suggestions on any topics or educational topics related to mental health you will like me to bring up, please don’t hesitate to reach out. I want to thank you for reading. I hope everyone has a great rest of their day. Peace Out!!!

Thrown to the Wolves but Not Eaten by Them

Good Evening!! It’s been a month today since I started my new position as a peer specialist at work and I am still loving it. It’s been quite a month for a number of reasons.

When my supervisor informed me that he was throwing me to the wolves he thought it was only for my first week and not for my first month and beyond. A colleague  went on an  unexpected leave. A leave my supervisor was shocked as hell about and went to bat for him so he would be able to return to work. Thankfully, this colleague came back yesterday (Wednesday) and felt bad for leaving myself and my other colleague out of loop and out for so long. We may not know exactly why he was out but we understand more than others because of being Peer Specialist.

I am loving  my new position. It is quite challenging at times. Then there are times where it is fun and full of laughter. For instance today, I was called a butt loud names by client who is not doing so well and on the other end of the spectrum, I was able to joke and laugh with another client. I am learning to take things in stride as they come my way, weather is insults or laughter.

My new position can be stressful at times which leads me to the training I was able to attend called Mindfulness as Self-Care which was held by the crisis clinic. I was able to attend because of being a Warm Line call taker and the Warm Line is under the umbrella of the Crisis Clinic.

The training obviously was on Mindfulness as Self-Care. It was geared toward those of us who work in the mental health  field. It focused on mindfulness skills. Part of the training also gave some back history as well. Some of the history included the focus of how various religions such as Buddhism and Hinduism focus on mindfulness and how it is a major skill taught in Dialectal Behavior Therapy (DBT).  The training gave me some new ways to be mindful and more tools to add to my toolbox.

I am looking forward till tomorrow. Tomorrow in my three year anniversary with Junior. It’s difficult to wrap my mind around that Junior and I have been together for three years.  After I get off work tomorrow, we are going to go on a romantic get away for the weekend. It is a much needed get away for the both of us.

Well, I need to get going. I hope to blog again at some point this weekend. I am tired and think it is time for me to go to bed. Have a good night and don’t let the bed bugs bite.

Daily Prompt: Come Fly with Me

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Come Fly with Me.” Share a story about the furthest you’ve ever traveled from home.

When I saw this particular (past) daily prompt, I automatically thought about my experience when I went to Nashville, Tennessee. This was the first time I had traveled from home when I was not with family or going to see family. In fact it was a much needed travel so I could get much needed help with the eating disorders I was struggling with at the time.

When I was 19, three months before I turned 20, my regular physician at the time told me that if I didn’t seek help for the eating disorders I was struggling with, I would be lucky if I “made it till 21.” Most people cringe and/or tell me that what physician told me was “unprofessional.” I personally don’t think it was “unprofessional” of my doctor at the time because if she didn’t tell me that I personally think I would be dead. That’s why I made the decision I did.

At that age, I considered myself a “Christian” and was a huge fan of “Christian” music. So with that being said, few weeks after my physician told me I needed to seek help for my eating disorders, I went to a Christian concert where the group Point of Grace was performing. Point of Grace is known in the Christian community to support those who may be struggling in some way. At that time (and even present day) Point of Grace was (and is) a big supporter of Mercy Ministries. During their concert they spoke of Mercy Ministries and even had a graduate give her testimony. Listening to the graduates testimony is what got me intrigued. At remission, I talked with graduate and she was able to provide me with more information. In fact she had extra applications to hand out for Mercy Ministries, which I filled out asap.

The thing that appealed to me in regards to Mercy Ministries was that it was Christian and free so of course I sent in the application after I filled it out.  After sending in the application and an intake interview over the phone, I was finally told that, I was accepted into the program. At that time Mercy Ministries had two homes, one in Monroe, Louisiana and the other in Nashville, Tennessee and was happy that I was “assigned” to the Nashville home.

I flew to Nashville and spent eleven months at Mercy Ministries. The average stay was (and think it still is) six months. It may have taken me five extra months to get through the program but it was something I needed. It was needed because, having so much time away from my family is what was best for me. I realized that they were hindering me in getting healthy in regards to my eating disorder. (Side note: I realized a few years later when I was in DBT that my family was also hindering me in my recovery with my mental illness.) I would be lying if I wasn’t scared about being so far from home and family because I was. Being so far from is what ultimately helped me get the help I needed with the eating disorders I was struggling with.

Now that I have told about how far I flew from home, I will end this blog entry for now. I hope that I will be able to continue to do daily prompts every Tuesday like I had discussed in my weekly goals yesterday. Thank you for reading. Have a wonderful day and Peace Out!!!

Daily Prompt: Grand Slam

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Grand Slam.” In your own life, what would be the equivalent of a walk-off home run? (For the baseball-averse, that’s a last-minute, back-against-the-wall play that guarantees a dramatic victory.)

It being the middle of the baseball season, this particular (past) daily prompt grabbed my attention and rightfully so. I love analogies especially ones that involve sports. This particular analogy, if its what you call it, strikes close to home from. (Pardon, the pun in regards to baseball.)

I have had my share of walk-off home runs that have lead to victory, even if I don’t necessarily want to admit it.  It is difficult for me to pick one so I will choose one if its not a long post and I’m not tired, I might share a second one.

The walk-off home run that led to a victory that comes to mind is when I entered the two year intensive outpatient Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) program. My back was literally getting against the wall with being able to get the proper treatment I needed because, I was starting to wear out some pretty good clinicians with my behavior, frequent self-harm and multiple suicide attempts. I was not the easiest of clients and new that if I didn’t accept the fact that, I needed to go into DBT, I would either be a lifer at the state hospital or six feet under (dead). I have the Peer Counselor to thank for sharing their recovery story with me because if it wasn’t for that, I honestly, don’t think  would have gone into the DBT program. The victory of all this is when I not only graduated from the first year but the second year as well.

I will share with you another walk-off home run that led to victory. This one was of the most difficult decisions I had to make in my life and am beyond grateful that I did. This one victory happened a few years before the DBT program I was in. I was nineteen years old and barely out of high school when I was told by my doctor at the time that if I didn’t seek treatment for the eating disorders I was struggling with I would be dead by my 21st birthday. Considering that my 20th birthday was three months away when I was told this, it hit extremely close to home. I didn’t know where to begin to look. I ended up going to a Christian concert where the group who was performing supported a program that helped young women with any number of problems. The program appealed to be for two reasons, it was free and it was Christian. At that point in time in my life I considered myself a Christian. I applied to the program and was in it a month after my 20th birthday. This decision was difficult for me because, at that time they only had to homes, I could go to, one in Nashville, Tennessee and the other Monroe, Louisiana. I had not been so far from home or family. I ended up going to the Nashville home where I graduated in ten months. The average stay is six months. Granted it took me longer to graduate from the program than most of the other girls and women but it was well worth it. It was worth it because, I knew I made the first “real” adult decision in my life and it was a great decision at that. Graduating was the first victory, I felt like I accomplished myself and with out the help of my family.

As you can tell, the two above stories were walk-off home runs that were both victories that ultimately saved my life. I am grateful that, I was able to make these choices because, I wouldn’t have been able to be enjoying life and sharing it with you fine folks. Recovery is a choice and in both examples, I chose recovery.

Now that I told you about my back-against-the-wall victories, I best be going. Thanks for reading. Enjoy the rest of you Saturday. Good night and don’t let the bed bugs bite. Peace Out!!

Pride Parade 2015

It has been a long, exhausting yet exuberating day. I marched in the pride parade today with my employer. It was awesome and an honor to march along side with my co-workers and clients. Many of the clients were quite surprised that many staff were not getting paid for their time marching in the parade. The cool thing about marching in today parade is that I had an option on who to march with. I could have marched with the Warm Line and Crisis Clinic staff and volunteers since I’m a volunteer with the Warm Line. I also had the opportunity to march with fellow volunteers as well as “guest” of the young adult homeless shelter I recently started volunteering at. In fact a couple of “guest” of the young adult shelter were disappointed I wasn’t marching with them however they understood why I would be marching with my employer.

My fiancé, Junior, even marched the pride parade. In fact he was with his employer. Junior is a firefighter and plays the bagpipes. Yes, that means he was marching in his rainbow colored kilt playing the bagpipe with the fire department pipes and drums. Junior, is quite the talented bagpiper. Unfortunately, I was unable to see Junior march in todays parade because I, too was marching in the parade.

Marching in todays pride parade had me thinking about my junior high and high school years. I was in marching band and loved it. Marching in todays parade had me realize how much I miss being in band.

Enough with my marching band days in junior high and high school and back to Pride Parade and its festivities. Today, was a warm, humid, cloudy day. In fact while marching in the parade, the weather decided to throw a thunder and lightning storm in the mix. In fact the rain felt good. The clients loved it. In fact they broke out into song. Not just any song. They sung “Dancing in the Rain.” Yes, they even started dancing. I wish I was able to get a picture of it however due to HIPPA laws I was unable to do so. In fact even some of my co-workers decided to join in the singing and dancing in the rain. I didn’t because I was enjoying the fact that the clients were enjoying the moment. It was a blast had by all.

After the parade I decided to go and volunteer at the booth my employer had set up. I volunteered for about an hour an half. It was nice to be able to educate the community about mental illness and homeliness and the effects it has on our community. The reason I decided to volunteer at my employers booth was not only to be able to educate the community but because Junior was farther down the parade route than I was and was wanting to do something productive as he was finishing up his portion of the parade.

When Junior was done with his portion of parade he stopped by my employers booth to come and “pick me up.” We then walked around the pride festivities and enjoyed our time together. In fact we discussed our wedding and how we are thrilled that one of his sister is now able to get married to the woman of her dreams anywhere in the United States as soon as she finds her. Isn’t it the most wonderful thing that now anyone can marry the person that they love despite their gender and the gender of their partner?

As we walked around the festivities we noticed some people holding up religious signs. In fact some of those signs were just plain ole hateful. I thought Christianity was a religion of love and compassion and not of hate and ignorance. Not only did the signs say hateful thing, the people holding the signs were saying hateful things. In fact one person told a little girl of 7 or 8 years old that not only are her daddies going to hell but she is as well. A nearby uniformed police officer stepped in and spoke up for that family. I just cant comprehend why people are so hateful especially to children.

Now that Junior and myself are home, we are relaxing. It has been a good day and am grateful that I was able to be alive during a part of a positive event in American History. I hope to blog again soon. Have good rest of your weekend. Peace out!!!

Love Wins In The United States; Same-Sex Marriage Now Legal in All 50 States

As many people in the United States (and around the world) are aware of by now, the United States Supreme Court ruled yesterday that same-sex marriage is now legal in all 50 states. Yes, all 50 states. I, like many around the country shed tears of joy when I heard the joyous news.

I shed tears of joy because this means that many people are now able to marry the person of their dreams, just like I am able to do so. I may be madly in love with Junior and engaged to marry him, I consider myself pansexual. For those of you that don’t know what pansexual is, the definition is as follows: not limited in sexual choice with biological sex, gender or gender identity. Yes, Junior knows I’m pansexual and he is fine with it. For me falling in love with the person of my dreams has nothing to do with the persons gender, gender identity or sexual orientation, it has to do with the persons personality. I fell in love with Junior because of who he is on the inside. I am thrilled I am able to marry Junior and just as thrilled same-sex couples are able to marry now.

Unfortunately, many people aren’t exactly thrilled with the Supreme Court ruling. It seems that the people who aren’t thrilled with the ruling happen to be people of faith and not just any faith; Christianity. The reason I say this is because I’ve noticed that on many social media sites (including WordPress) that Christians were being out right hateful. For example, I had posted on my the Facebook account I have for my given name, that I was beyond thrilled that same-sex marriage is now legal. Many people who are Christians on that particular account started messaging, texting, calling and emailing me saying they were offended and that I was “going to hell” because I support “gay marriage.” I even had a handful of people block me. I’m fine with that because if they are going to get offended for something I support then I don’t need them in my life. I just cant comprehend why a particular religion that preaches love and compassion can be so hateful when it comes to people getting married to the person they love even if that person is the same gender as they are. I am trying so hard to not be so judgmental toward that particular faith because I know many kind-hearted Christians out there and some of them even support same-sex marriage.

The ruling of same-sex marriage couldn’t have come at better time. It’s not only came in Gay Pride Month but the biggest weekend for the LGBT community; pride weekend. Yesterday, was a historical moment in United States history. I am beyond happy that this happened in my lifetime. I am sure that there are going to be many people and various types of groups that are going to try to get this ruling overturned. No matter how hard people may try to get the ruling overturned its never going to happen. Too many people will fight just as hard if not harder to keep the ruling in place.

I need to get going. I am heading out to pride festivities before I go and volunteer at the Warm Line. I know that the pride festivities will be more giddy than they have been in previous years because of yesterdays ruling. I love going to pride festivities. I hope to be able to blog after I get home from pride events and volunteering. Have a good day everyone and stay safe. Peace out!!!!

Mental Illness and Evangelical Christians

It’s Sunday and that means a number of people around the world went to their place of worship to celebrate their particular entity. It being Sunday, I decided to take a friend up on her invite to attend the church that she is a member of. The reason why I took my friend up on the invite was because she had a solo. Going to church is a major deal to me because I rarely go.

I rarely go  to church for many reasons and one those things happened today at the church I visited today. To give you a back story I use to self harm by cutting myself and that means I have scars and some of those scars are on my arms. Whenever I go and visit a church and wear short sleeves I get a lot of stares and some questions and that’s okay with me. It’s a way to educate others. The thing I have an issue with and is one of the reasons I choose to not attend church is when those in attendance of the church telling me various things in regards to my scarred up arms. Things like “You need Jesus because if you had Jesus you wouldn’t have those,” as they point to my arms or “The Devil must be inside of you because you cut yourself,” or “I think you should attend our healing service to be healed of your mental health issues. You obviously have one or you wouldn’t have scars on your arms.” All three of these statements were told to me today. Unfortunately, my friend didn’t hear the people who told me these statements because she was getting ready for her solo with the choir. My friend attends an Evangelical Christian church and I have found that with all the Evangelical Churches I have been to, I have at least five or six people make similar comments like the ones I shared with you above. When people of faith tell me comments like above or similar ones it has me feeling less than human and undeserving. I do have to say I was able to stand up for myself when I had people make comments to me today. The comments my friend was around to hear she backed me up and helped me convey my message and ultimately stood up for me. In fact, she even stood up for me when the senior pastor of her church made the comment, “Oh another lost soul that allowed Satan to take over so he could make you crazy.” Yes, he said crazy. I am so grateful that my friend stuck for me and gave her senior pastor a lesson on God, faith, compassion and mental illness.

My friend was in disbelief when she not only heard her friends make discriminatory and “un-Christ-like” comments but the comments her senior pastor said. When I told her I was hesitant to go to her church for reason such as I just described to you she told me it wouldn’t happen. I find my friend being a little naïve when it came to this issue. In fact many Evangelical Christians are naïve and ignorant toward mental illness. Many Evangelical Christian feel and think that we chose to have a mental illness or allowed the devil to give us one. Why would we choose to have a mental illness? I would wish a mental illness on my worst enemy.

I am not posting this blog to pass judgment on any particular person, religion or faith but to educate those who may not be aware that their comments and actions hurt and turn away potential Christians to believe what they believe or attend their church. I know some of the comments are well intended but not helpful. A great deal of the comments I receive today in regards to my scarred up arms were quite ignorant, discriminatory, judgmental and just plain ole continued the stigmatizing of mental illness.

The goal of this blog and blog entry is to educate those on mental illness. Stigma has no place anywhere especially in a place of worship. Everyone need to feel safe when they are worshiping their particular entity.

Now that I have gotten that off my chest I will call it an evening and night. Have a good rest of your Sunday evening. Peace Out!!