The journey you take in this life may feel as though you walk it all alone, and in some of the most beautiful ways, sure you do… but, even though there may be moments where you are in a room all alone, or rather are in a room with someone else and feel all alone, you in fact are not.
Isolation is an incredible deception because it tells you that you are the only person going through what you are experiencing. Yes, there are unique factors to the situation you find yourself in, it is after all your life; however, in reality, there are roughly 7.8 billion people on the planet, and many are experiencing the same thing as you are, just different versions.
I’ll never forget when I spoke at a Reclaim Your Voice event in Toronto back in 2016. I discussed my experience being hospitalized for mental health issues against my will and how difficult that was for my trust connections afterwards. At Reclaim Your Voice events, participants will write down notes for the speakers to read when the day is done. I received a note from one person in the group saying that while I was speaking about the psych ward and what happened with my family, he felt as though I was describing his life. He thanked me for speaking that day and then the note came to a close. I will never forget looking at the cue card sized note and thinking to myself, “wow, other people have been through this as well. I am not alone.“
Isolation is a liar, and a popular one at that. Feelings of being alone in your experience are not necessarily accurate.Yes, you may experience periods of solitude or even estrangement from others in your life, but even in that solo journey comes the reality that others are going at it alone as well.
This holiday season, do what is right by you when you celebrate. Make the day special for you even if you cannot be with your loved ones outside of your home. Do something you love to do, or even just something comforting, and enjoy your time to yourself. 2020 has presented unique challenges for us all, and even though we are all going through it alone, we are still in this together.
Start at the root of the issue and analyze the effects of that epicenter.
Retrain your thoughts.
The process begins with the will to not be ruled by what isn’t truly real.
Mental health is more than a hashtag or a slogan, it is a necessary topic for conversation because it is such a “mystery” to so many. Whenever people recover from a mental health ordeal it is always a case of “how did they do it!?” or “it’s a miracle!!” While yes, it is God-sent in my opinion, it is not as enigmatic as some may make it seem. There are active things that you can do to build your mental strength. And on that same train of thought, there are active things that you can do to regain control of your thought processes. One such area that can be tackled, (and needs to be approached in that direct of a manner) is triggers. Triggers are deceptive as f*ck. They take truths and cloak them into lies rooted in paranoia. But like everything that can feel insurmountable, the process begins with BABY STEPS.
Now, first off, I want for you to be very conscious of the fact that dismantling your triggers involves a lot of emotional work. It requires rigorously monitoring your thoughts and actions until it becomes second nature. But YOU CAN DO THIS! Learning how to break down what sets off negative mental patterns is a highly empowering experience because, it allows you to live in what is true and real as opposed to what your deceptive associations dictate. When you begin, remember to BE KIND TO YOURSELF. Pull out the tissues if you need to and get busy working on what it is that has been controlling you.
Grab a pen.
Grab some paper.
And get to work!
The work that you will be doing will help you in every aspect of your life. When you look your triggers straight in the face, you show yourself that you are not afraid. You are choosing to not be afraid of what is going on around you and what is going on inside of you.
I dove head first into my triggers and rode the wave all the way through. Whether or not that was the right way to do it, I can’t be sure. But, here I am on the other side. I did meet some people along the way who were able to get through to me when my triggers had taken control. I am grateful to those people. I am grateful for the mirrors they held up to my face that forced me to see myself when more than a fog had set in.
Triggers can be highly disorienting. They can set you on a path of self-destruction that, if you had the tools in your mental health toolbox to deal with them prior, could have been avoided. This is what I am talking about when I refer to preventative measures. This is what is necessary for the future of our society. We need to approach mental health education as being necessary for our youth. It needs to equip our children with the knowledge of how to deal with mental struggles because let’s face it: we all struggle mentally at one point or another in our lifetimes. Whether it is a breakup, grieving from a death, or the results of trauma, we all go through some form of mental turmoil at one point or another in our lives. While most can relate on that point, not all of us experience intense and overwhelming triggers to the extent that they need to be unpacked. Well, there is no shame in being a part of that group, but it is a shame when you deny your membership because then you deny yourself optimal functioning and happiness.
If you need help, reach out to someone you trust. Do research on exactly what your issue is. Do not pull the ostrich approach when it comes to your triggers, your head deserves to be clear.
Healing is a process that begins with identifying a problem. Tupac Shakur diagnosed what he saw in the streets with his concept of “T.H.U.G.L.I.F.E.” When you look at those two words together you can potentially think one thing, but in reality 2pac broke the term down letter by letter to mean something that most people I encounter do not expect. The acronym stands for “The Hate U Give Little Infants F*cks Everyone.” And in my opinion, there is no truer talk.
I have always loved Tupac. Ever since I first heard “Changes” on the radio I fell in love with his music and Hip-Hop as a whole. But, it wasn’t until I heard about T.H.U.G.L.I.F.E. that I realized just how intertwined my purpose is with what Pac was talking about.
The hate people give children is what creates the pain we encounter daily in society today. Until the issues 2pac was addressing with T.H.U.G.L.I.F.E. are properly addressed in our social system, we will continue to see hurt, and pain, and suffering.
I found out the meaning of the acronym around the time that I was working on my theory for the promotion of children’s rights, The Child-Centric Framework (CCF). CCF utilizes dominant psychological theories of human development to drive the point home that the relationships we have as children affect the dynamics we experience with others throughout our lives. CCF draws on the evolving nature of the social conception of the child and the proven effectiveness of macro level policy changes to help guide that evolution. I focused on this theory for a year, and realized at a certain point, that I was addressing 2pac’s concept of T.H.U.G.L.I.F.E with The Child-Centric Framework. CCF promotes child empowerment for an end result of healthy societal functioning. It is a perspective to begin a conversation from.
Tamir Rice would have turned 18 this week. 18. He would have finally become an adult. This week, as if almost overnight, Tamir Rice would have acquired all of the rights and responsibilities of being an adult in this world such as, the freedom to make his own decisions. But, because he was playing with a toy gun in a park, and was Black, he was shot by police and died as a result. Tamir Rice was 12 years old.
In 2012 Trayvon Martin was killed. People can play guessing games all they want as to why my mental health suffered at that time but they would be wrong. It was Trayvon’s death that I couldn’t handle. When I heard of his death, all I heard in my mind was a child being murdered. I had seen so many deaths and instances of police brutality online that when Trayvon was killed I broke open. That’s when I wrote my first rap verse. That’s when I turned to Hip-Hop to survive.
Tamir Rice was 12 when he died. Trayvon Martin was 17. Tamir Rice was playing, and Trayvon Martin was just getting Skittles. Please let that sink in. Do not forget their names because they were both someone’s sons and they were both valuable human beings in their own right.
Since George Floyd’s death, I have not known what to say publicly on this website, because I have mostly been having thoughtful conversations in private about it. But when I saw the above meme, “Healing comes from repairs. We need a systemic repair.” a quote by Mily Gomez, LPC, I knew how to contribute to this discourse properly.
Healing is something that needs to be done actively, so that eventually it can be done automatically, in order to allow you to proceed to the next level. Consider the concept of healing a physical injury, there are concrete stages that you take dependent on the type and severity. Well, our entire system is injured, so we must take steps in order to achieve the end result that we want, which is a healed new system.
When it comes to police brutality what we are seeing is generational policies embedded in white privilege isolating and targeting Black communities. As a collective, we cannot accept this as daily life. In a world that is over half a century down the road since the establishment of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) that outlines the rights of every citizen globally, how can we accept the systematic murders of innocent people for any reason. How can we accept the ignorance of racism being as rampant as it is in countries as wealthy as the United States, where it is commonplace to be harassed simply for being Black. Just as Tupac identified the root issue of T.H.U.G.L.I.F.E., we must identify the root issue that is plaguing every single one of us, every single day, due to the fact that racism can spread like diffusion. It can poison the mind, and it can create bias that costs others their livelihoods and even their lives.
The truth seekers are those who either actively or innately lift the veil of the lies that bind us and prevent us from living our lives more fully. The truth seekers can change the world, because to live in an ignorant state of any kind is to set yourself up for either failure of a major kind, or a sheltered and inaccurate existence.
As a starting point for a conversation about the root issues in our system, look at where the most pain resides. If you listen to 2pac’s music you will notice that he is often talking about pain, particularly the pain that he sees in his own life and his own community. Begin your journey of looking for solutions to the problem. Begin with T.H.U.G.L.I.F.E
Then, as a next step, think about The Child-Centric Framework as a springboard perspective to approach your problem solving for the issue. And from there, let your mind soar.
While thinking about potential solutions, think freely. Allow yourself to let a train of thought fail, so that you can eventually get to the one that does not. Trial and error is a process, and trial and error is often a process that is required in order to find the answer that succeeds in solving the problem.
I do not know the cure to racism. I do not know the cure to all of the root systemic issues that infect our society. I do not know how to solve all of our problems. But I do know some things when it comes to human rights. And I know that the bottom line is that everyone deserves to have them, not just those whose complexion matches the authority’s opinion of who should receive fair treatment.
The Child-Centric Framework was created in response to my identification of a mental health crisis across the globe. I saw a problem and I chose to address it by creating a framework based on a hunch. I knew that children’s rights was a part of the answer, it just wasn’t until I dove into the research, finished the theory, and then delved deeper into 2pac’s concept of T.H.U.G.L.I.F.E. that I realized just how potentially powerful CCF truly is.
Racism is an issue that affects everything, because like Pac said, “the hate you give little infants f*cks everyone”.
Baby steps are the best place to start when you are trying to climb out of a difficult spot. While regular steps tend to involve the more arduous heavy lifting, baby steps are a necessary part to beginning any journey.
“Baby steps” are sometimes the most nerve-racking steps to take, because they are typically the first ones. Everything at this stage is unknown and you are a novice, but once you find a momentum, those baby steps will eventually be eons away. You will eventually be making great strides. What is important is that you start, and what is important is that you believe that you can recover and reach your end goal.
Sometimes you have to start and stop, just to re-begin again when you are in a better place. There is no shame in that and the end result will be the same. We all have different stories and experiences that shape our perspectives. How we feel when we hit the depths that push us to finally do something about it has a lot to do with when baby steps can begin. It is often from hitting rock-bottom that things somehow can become clear again. And for everyone, this moment looks different.
In my mental health journey I have had to start and stop just to re-begin, more times than once. Actually more times than I can technically count. But there was a key “baby steps” moment in my life when I was “in the thick of it” mentally. I reference this moment on The Eric Ibey Podcast.
The instance I am talking about right now was when I couldn’t write. I was in my mid-20’s and I was highly depressed after harsh hospitalizations, overmedicated and trying to process trauma. At this point I could barely speak, and I definitely couldn’t write. This was especially alarming for me because I am a writer. I had no idea how to dig myself out of the hole I found myself in, and the mental health professionals didn’t seem to have the answers that I needed.
So one day I purchased a Van Gogh notebook and decided that it would be my second book. I called it “I & I”. At the point when I got the notebook, I couldn’t even write a sentence let alone a whole book. I knew that writing an entire book would be ambitious at that point but that was my end goal at the time. And so I told myself, “Okay, first I will write a word. And then, the next day, I’ll write a sentence. After that, I’ll write a paragraph. And from there, a page.” And so on, and so forth. “I&I” didn’t survive as a book, but within a few months of starting it I would write an 80,000 word book helping me process my trauma.
That process would lead to being published on multiple writing platforms online, writing numerous manuscripts, and finding the confidence to pour myself into songwriting as well. But none of that would have been possible without the baby steps at the beginning.
If you’re in a place where you have to take baby steps, please be patient with yourself along the journey. Most things do not happen overnight but with layers of bricks laid to create a solid foundation over time. Find your rhythm and put in the work; the results are always worth the effort and time where your mental health is concerned.
In 2013 I told myself, “I can recover”. In 2020 I realized I did recover. All of my prayers for how I wanted to heal mentally had been answered. I then created londonmindfit.com, because I finally felt ready to share the hard earned lessons I had learned with others in a real way. I want for London Mind Fit to be another mental health resource, knowing the caveat that my greatest experience in the field is from the perspective of a diagnosed member of the mental health community.
I started my journey with the mental health field as a volunteer at a children’s hospital when I was 17. On my ward were mixed cases, however there were a lot of pre-teens on the floor suffering from eating disorders. I was heartbroken at how somehow a breakdown from their minds was pushing their bodies so far to the point of needing medical intervention. Physical medical intervention.
Since my days as a volunteer I have been on the other end of the spectrum, being at one point a mental health in-patient myself, but for different reasons. I recovered from being in a zombie-like state only to discover that, ”My God! In 2013 I prayed to be in a place like I’m at today mentally, thank God I got here!” How did I get here you ask? Medical intervention and a lot of hard work on my part.
You can heal from an injury that you cannot see, such as an injury of the mind, but know that others will not believe you are healed until they see it with their own two eyes. But make sure that it’s your own perspective that you care the about most. I wish that I had the wisdom then to tell those young girls what I know now, but I can do something…
Welcome to London Mind Fit, where the overarching belief and central mantra is “I can recover.”
One of my commitments for this website is to bring fresh content for people who are struggling but also for those who just want to learn more about mental health. I had the pleasure of being a guest on The Eric Ibey Podcast and knew that the episode could be the best way to kick off London Mind Fit and I believe that it was.
In the episode I discuss my personal journey with mental health, trauma, and all that falls in between. I hope that sharing my story can help someone else.
Click here or on the image below to listen to the podcast.
Thank you to Eric for being such a great host. This is a conversation I will not be forgetting anytime soon!