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Mental health by the numbers….

After doing research and finding the statistics on mental health illnesses and the effects of it is disheartening. I believe the lack of information, embarrassment and cultural differences play a big role in the silence of mental illness in the African American community especially.

Mental health is not an easy subject but we have to be aware, be educated on the issue, stop judging, show compassion and SPEAK UP. Speaking up is a major step in ending the STIGMA associated with mental illnesses. I had so many doubts about starting this blog and telling everyone what my family was going through. And yes, I said family because it truly effected us all. I was only able to go forward after asking Jaime if she was truly OK with me doing this and she said:

Momma if I don’t say anything how anyone else will know it’s ok.

Jaime

Yes, it is ok hunni! With that being said… just know that mental illnesses are treatable, it’s not your fault, you are not a bad parent, you are NOT weak and yes, RECOVERY is POSSIBLE.

You Are Not Alone

1 in 5 U.S. adults experience mental illness each year
1 in 25 U.S. adults experience serious mental illness each year
1 in 6 U.S. youth aged 6-17 experience a mental health disorder each year
Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death among people aged 10-34 

The Ripple Effect Of Mental Illness

PERSON

  • People with depression have a 40% higher risk of developing cardiovascular and metabolic diseases than the general population. People with serious mental illness are nearly twice as likely to develop these conditions.
  • 19.3% of U.S. adults with mental illness also experienced a substance use disorder in 2018 (9.2 million individuals)
  • The rate of unemployment is higher among U.S. adults who have mental illness (5.8%) compared to those who do not (3.6%)
  • High school students with significant symptoms of depression are more than twice as likely to drop out compared to their peers

FAMILY

  • At least 8.4 million people in the U.S. provide care to an adult with a mental or emotional health issue
  • Caregivers of adults with mental or emotional health issues spend an average of 32 hours per week providing unpaid care

COMMUNITY

  • Mental illness and substance use disorders are involved in 1 out of every 8 emergency department visits by a U.S. adult (estimated 12 million visits)
  • 20.1% of people experiencing homelessness in the U.S. have a serious mental health condition
  • 37% of adults incarcerated in the state and federal prison system have a diagnosed mental illness
  • 70.4% of youth in the juvenile justice system have a diagnosed mental illness
  • Mood disorders are the most common cause of hospitalization for all people in the U.S. under age 45 (after excluding hospitalization relating to pregnancy and birth)
  • 41% of Veteran’s Health Administration patients have a diagnosed mental illness or substance use disorder

This information can be found at: https://www.nami.org/Learn-More/Mental-Health-By-the-Numbers

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Sharing in Struggle

Image result for cactus in desert
Thriving in Dry Places

My original plan was to go live with my website on October 1st, day one of Mental Health Awareness week. But then there was an overwhelming need to do it sooner, God said now! After posting I couldn’t be more surprised with the overwhelming responses from loved ones, friends, co-workers, and even some I didn’t even know. The responses were of encouragement, admissions to dealing with the same thing and commending me on my bravery for speaking out. That was confirmation that the time was right. I spent a couple of months trying to build this website and wanted things perfect but who was I kidding I would’ve never been satisfied either way LOL.

I have the pleasure of being a part of this new women’s empowerment group called She Declared: W A R (willing and ready). Saturday past was the first actual meet & greet event that went very well. After having such a wonderful time who knew a mini war would be brewing for me after getting home. I got home at about 6pm, received a call at about 8:39 pm and it went like this…..

Jaime’s coworker: you need to come Jaime is having an anxiety attack at work. Me: where are y’all? Jaime’s coworker: In the restroom at work and she won’t stop crying. Me: i’m on my way.

I grabbed her medicine, got in the car and began to PRAY. It took me 7 minutes to get to her job, she came out crying hysterically. For a moment I was speechless, I just looked at her and in the back of my mind (don’t judge me i’m just being real) I was thinking this girl is crazy as hell! For one moment I allowed the STIGMA to take over me.

Me: why are you crying? what’s wrong? Her: IDK Me: just staring. Her: I miss my uncle Geroid and Momo, I’ve been thinking about them a lot lately.

My heart dropped because I knew her pain, I suffered the same pain. So, I calmed her down, went and parked my car and stayed in the parking lot until she got off @10pm.

Anyone caring for a loved one with a mental illness is definitely sharing in the suffering. The emotions we experience in witnessing their episodes are heartbreaking and tiring all at the same time. As a mother wanting to protect our children puts us in all kinds of positions but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I would gladly sit in my car for hours again, have sleepless nights to check on her every hour, and do things with her although i’m tired just to make sure she’s OK. Parents/caregivers stay prayed up, stay strong, be attentive, take nothing for granted and please take care of yourselves.

Feeling down from time to time isn’t necessarily a symptom of depression. Depression doesn’t always need a trigger. Sadness can arrive without any unpleasant event or warning.

Common depression triggers include:

  • a major life change such as a move, graduation, or a new job
  • financial troubles, including bankruptcy or debt
  • relationship issues such as tension in the family, a breakup, or a divorce (your own or a loved one’s)
  • the death of a loved one
  • giving birth to a child (this is called postpartum depression)
  • loneliness — for example, if friends and family have moved away
  • stress at work or home
  • using alcohol or drugs
  • major illness

– Hope

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My Truth…

As I sit here with so much anxiety at the thought of typing/writing/speaking my truth I know it has to be done. If exposing my truth and experiences can help one person I’ve done what I’ve been called to do. I know that a lot of times God gives us the hardest task, the things that stretch us and make us uncomfortable to do. But, I know that my task is not just about ME, it’s about helping others as well. So here goes…my daughter is battling depression and I suffer with anxiety… WHEW I SAID IT!!!!! Mental illness is REAL! Not that I didn’t believe it before but when I say it’s REAL its REALLY REAL. This year 2019 has been the by far one of the hardest years of my life. Never did I ever believe I would be here dealing with this.

Through this blog I aspire to give real life situations in caring for someone with Depression while dealing with my own Anxiety issues. No two situations are the same but I do believe that sharing my experiences will lead to someone else possibly recognizing signs or symptoms of depression and anxiety in a loved one, friend, coworker etc. Trust me I didn’t just catch the signs and symptoms of depression in Jaime and proceeded to get her help no no no…. I missed all the signs, I blew a lot of signs off to her just being a typical teenager. I just thank GOD that at the point when it got to be too much for her she cried out vs. doing something more drastic like harming herself, someone else or suicide.

Now looking at the signs that I’ve now identified Jaime as having were some of the typical signs of a normal teenager or so I thought. Teenagers sleep all day and stay up all night, they eat funny depending on how their schedule is, and those GIRLS OMG they carry constant attitudes. And, although I have zero tolerance for attitudes I could still see where she was more moody than usual. Jaime and I talked on a regular basis and because she was still making great grades and holding a job I thought she was fine. I later learned that her being able to balance school and 24hrs a week at work was a way for her to not cope or deal with the emotions she was having and that later lead to a break down.

Signs to be aware of:

  • Changes in sleep (Jaime would stay up all night)
  • Changes in appetite (eating habits became less)
  • Lack of concentration (lost focus in school)
  • Loss of energy (stayed in bed a lot)
  • Lack of interest in activities
  • Hopelessness or guilty thoughts
  • Changes in movement (less activity or agitation) (highly irritable)
  • Physical aches and pains (stomach upset & body aches)
  • Suicidal thoughts (YES, these thoughts. If she had not gotten help I would’ve never known)

Y ‘all I’m by far no writer, nor specialist in mental health, I’m just a real person/mother living through a real situation where as my journey may be able to help someone else. What I’ve shared is just the beginning of my story and I’ll take you all through it all week by week. I’ll also be sharing struggles with anxiety and how I manage it. So, stay tuned in and subscribe, feel free to leave comments, advice, encouragement, ask questions or whatever (no negative vibes please). We’re all in this together lets be “Iron Sharpening Iron” lets “Glean in one another fields” .