5 Questions With… Kibbi Linga!

Los Angeles is known for its sunshine, but when I think of L.A. sun I immediately think of a dynamic ray of light coming from Cali called Kibbi Linga!

Kibbi Linga is a beyond talented artist, sharing her emotional artistic process online for all to see! Kibbi is a mental health warrior who paints through her PTSD pain and creates stunning pieces of artwork that are visual representations of what she feels inside. Her ability to express herself through art is even more impressive after you hear Kibbi’s responses to my 5 Questions!

I asked Kibbi if she wanted to participate in my new interview segment called “5 Questions With” and she thankfully agreed! I have wanted to interview Kibbi Linga for London Mind Fit since the website’s creation because Kibbi is so open about her mental health diagnosis and her therapeutic creative process. I knew that the interview would be abundant in wisdom and Kibbi did not disappoint! I asked my 5 burning questions and received a treasure trove of insight!

  1. You and I both suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and yet it is possible that our experiences of the condition are almost completely different. For instance, I get night terrors and flashbacks, but it is possible that you do not suffer from either and could still have PTSD. Over the years I have been able to find mechanisms to manage these symptoms, some days with greater success than others. Can you share with London Mind Fit readers what your experience of PTSD is like and how you have learned to work with this mental health condition?

My main experience with PTSD is underlying emotional pain. For me,
it showed up in many ways! Prior to embracing recovery, until age 30
I was exhibiting many dysfunctional and self destructive behaviors.
Until recovery, I lived in a world of denial so as I started to embrace
truth and my denial slowly shed, many new symptoms occurred! I
personally have a very chronic case of PTSD, so I acknowledge that
not all symptoms may be relatable, but for me I had many night
sweats, insomnia, flashbacks (one I couldn’t escape and had to go to
the emergency room), irritability, a compulsion to control, a
heartbreak from uncovering truth, a dislocated jaw, and extremely
tight muscles. It sounds hopeless, but for me I’ve been blessed with
many miracles since and many of these symptoms have subsided.

2. At what stage in your recovery did you discover art as a therapeutic outlet? Have you always been an artist?

I found art 6 months into my recovery, in May of 2019. I was never an artist
before because I grew up in a very rigid upbringing that taught me not to
talk or express myself. When I started painting, I remembered my dreams
as a child of becoming an artist to escape my emotional pain. My dream
has been becoming more true every day, as well as my progress in
healing. As a child, I wanted to use art to escape my upbringing and its
impact on me and it’s happening today. For this, I am so grateful.

3. Your artistic process is inspiring to watch! Not only because of the methods you use to paint, nor the beautiful paintings created by the end, but you literally often work through your emotions on the camera as well. What inspired you to show that raw, real, and sometimes very emotional process on camera? How does it feel to create and share that process?

It feels amazing to share the whole process! Exposing my truth and art
heals me just as much as creating it! I am saddened that I don’t have the
time right now to create more YouTube videos expressing my process, but
I have faith that I’ll be able to return in the future! What inspires me to be
raw, real, emotional or vulnerable on camera is the healing that I gain from
it. When I expose my true self, I heal. It feels scary to do, but I hold faith
that it will heal me, and it always does to some degree! When I paint, I aim
to manifest my pain into something beautiful, and I find that being
authentic, raw and vulnerable helps me get there! That’s not to say it’s
easy, but it does help my “I don’t give a F what people think” muscle that I
get to continually strengthen!

4. In one of your latest Instagram posts you mention that “social media is a substantial tool” in your healing process. Can you explain to LMF readers how you have been able to use social media in a healing way and how they could possibly do the same?

Social media has been a (safe enough) place for me to express my art, get
validated for it and find a lot of support and encouragement! I started
Instagram because my feelings and truth were so unimaginable and ugly
that I struggled to receive validation. In essence, I knew that my art pieces
were my feelings, so I sought out validation from social media. Did I just log
on one day, post my art and receive the validation I was looking for? No, I
still had to “search” for it. I found other supportive souls or artists to connect
with on instagram, spent time engaging on the platform to grow, etc. As a
result, many people validated my art (my feelings) which REALLY helped
me in the beginning of my recovery because nobody else could validate
me. As my social media journey continued, I’ve expanded platforms and
use them all the same way. I have truly found a lot of love, support,
encouragement, inspiration and unity on the social media platforms! The
more love and authenticity I put out there, the more love and healing I
receive. I am grateful for social media in my recovery!

5. What do you think one of the most common misconceptions are about those with PTSD specifically and mental health conditions in general?

This is a sensitive area for me, because I am saddened by my own
observations that society’s attitude is “don’t talk” and “dont’ feel.” To
me, this is denying the disease and others’ pain. I’ve heard many people from acquaintances to mental health professionals tell me that
I don’t have PTSD, until it became evident. In short, I think PTSD is
widely denied, yet the reason why there is evil in the world today. We,
as a whole, are not treating trauma and it is being repeated
generationally. In my utopia, when someone wants to be heard, they
would be heard! As negative as my answer may seem, my hope is
that whoever reads this has a piece of my heart filled with hope and
faith that they can find the validation and recovery path that they
need. I believe recovery is there for anyone who wants it, despite
society!
As far as society’s misconceptions on mental health conditions in
general, I am more hopeful. I find that people judging me while I’m being
brave and embracing pain is probably their own projection. I don’t care,
especially when I get to choose not to have them in my life. I am excited to
say that I’m witnessing more and more people embrace mental and
spiritual health, making it the “new sexy.” I have A LOT of hope in regards
to dampening the overall, negative mental health stigma that most of us are
used to. To end, I have hope and believe that love always wins!

Follow Kibbi Linga on Instagram at @kibbi.spills.art, on Twitter at @KibbiLinga, check out Kibbi’s official website here and all of Kibbi’s links here!

Peace of Mind With Taraji

I interact with a lot of mental health media on a daily basis. If you have curated your social media content to look like mine does now, then you get updated often when something new surfaces in the community. But if you don’t, I am here to share a gem with you today in your path towards healing. Peace of Mind With Taraji on Facebook Watch is as refreshing as it is enlightening. One of my favorite things about the show, is that Taraji is unafraid to be candid and open about a subject as typically hidden as mental health.

When I was diagnosed with PTSD, I had no idea what I was in for. And every day since then, I have been navigating this path of living with the effects of trauma but never giving up on having a healthy mind. The whole mantra of this website is “I can recover, I will recover,” which I can say like a broken record (and will). The thing is though, sometimes you need to see it in motion for yourselves.

Cue Taraji P. Henson’s new show Peace of Mind with Taraji. The show delves deep into often taboo or stigmatized subject matters such as PTSD, suicide, and rape but it does so in a way that is different from other media. Something that I pointed out when I was a guest on The Eric Ibey Podcast is that these conversations don’t have to be all dark and dismal, there can be light moments within a difficult conversation. I believe that Peace of Mind with Taraji captures that necessity for mental health discussions.

I want to tell you what prompted me to write this post right now and why I believe it is so important to do so. A lot of people are struggling mentally at the moment, so I want to caveat what I am about to say with that.

I was on Facebook doing a regular scroll down the timeline when I saw a post from The Source Magazine. It was an article written about Taraji P. Henson. The headline reads, “Taraji P. Henson Reveals She Contemplated Suicide During The Pandemic.” I had seen this news in headlines a few times before since the media has been sharing it almost everywhere, but a comment on this one prompted me to read the article. The comment reads, “I don’t want to hear that shit. She is richer than rich and I’m sure she wasn’t all alone or completely staying in the house.

I would like to address this comment in its entirety. The first message in this comment is that wealthy people do not suffer mentally. The second message is that only those who are “all alone” are given license to suffer mentally. And the third message is that staying in the house at all times is the only circumstance that gives you permission to suffer mentally. The circumstantial nature of this comment is a fallacy. Wealthy people suffer mentally. People who are alone and with company are suffering mentally. And those who are both staying in the house at all times or not have equal permission to suffer mentally.

We are in a pandemic. Times have gotten dark for almost all of us at some point or another during this time period in our history. What is important is that we do not place shame on anyone for any divisive reason we can think of, especially one as lacking in relevancy as socio-economic status.

People from all walks of life can and do deal with mental health conditions on a daily basis. We are all survivors.

After I read the Facebook comment, I went further and read The Source Magazine article about Taraji. After reading that article I took it one step further and finally sat down to watch both episodes of Peace of Mind with Taraji. I knew that I wanted all of the context before deciding to share this post with you. As. I watched the show, and my tears began to flow as I related on so many counts, I also felt relief that there is work being done to destigmatize mental health in an effective way.

This type of work takes a lot of bravery. I would like to thank every single woman on the show for sharing their experiences in order to raise awareness for such silenced topics.

Taraji discuss her thoughts of suicide during the pandemic in the video below.

My recommendation is to watch all 4 videos with comprehension of the heroism it takes to be that open and vulnerable.

In order to heal we must actively do the work and seek out the resources that will help us improve our mental wellness. Well, now you can add a new show to your list.

Tune into Monday’s episode with the iconic Mary J. Blige!

PSA: You Are NOT Alone

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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.

London Mind Fit Sessions: Ep. 1 – Diagnosis

It’s been a while since I have posted on London Mind Fit. That has been deliberate. I was going through a lot on my own and didn’t feel it was appropriate to bring you on that potentially tumultuous journey with me. I was right.

Back at the beginning of lockdowns, I began to think about how to create a mental health mini-podcast series. I wanted for it to be on point, which means that I needed to be. Finally, the first episode of London Mind Fit Sessions has come together! The subject matter for the first episode is one that is heavy to a lot of people within the mental health field: diagnosis.

To watch or listen to the first episode of London Mind Fit Sessions click play below.

Dear London Mind Fit Reader,

I am in this with you.

I recently saw a tweet that said something about being cautious when it comes to “toxic positivity” in the spiritual community. The point of the tweet was to make the reader aware that it doesn’t have to be “good vibes” all of the time and that being human involves feeling low in some moments. Some healers make it seem as though they are constantly happy, and maybe for some it is not an act but most human beings experience highs and lows. Some experience highs and lows in greater extremes; however, for the most part we all respond to stimuli that is positive and negative that has an effect on our emotional regulatory systems and mental health patterns.

My last post was about being sexually assaulted by someone that I cared about, and while it may be difficult for some to read it is important that you know that just because someone is a mental health advocate does not mean that they are “cured.” If anything, it means that they have a certain level of insight into mental health and are advocating based on that knowledge set. Some people advocate based on personal experience, others because it is the people they love who are afflicted and so on and so forth. Every source has a particular reason for speaking out…mine is that I’ve come so far and feel as though I can help others through sharing my story.

At this site, I want for you to feel as though your mind is sparked on the subject of mental health. I want for these words to instil thinking, and hopefully healthy thinking in the long-term. Everyone is on a mental health journey whether they recognize it or not, but this website is particularly intended for those who are on that journey actively. I am looking to reach those who want to be reached, not those who are close-minded. This is not a diss, but a strong alliance I have for people who are “in the thick of it.” People who have gone so deep they see no way out. I was one of those people. Hope pulled me out of it and faith kept me going.

Sometimes with mental health issues it can feel like there is no rulebook for regaining stability. The truth is the path to get well is really deep within you. It is rooted to your happiness and learning to follow that path in order to bring positivity into your life and higher vibrations to your being. Happiness smiles through all of your cells. Speak kind words to yourself, be patient with your path back to you if it is going slowly. Rome wasn’t built overnight, and neither is a mind that needs to be rebuilt after a struggle.

I want to leave you with one final thought. Mental health issues can be likened to a house fire. Imagine your mind is your home and there is a fire in one of the rooms of the house. There are multiple options for how this fire can be put out, and there are multiple scenarios for how much damage this fire can potentially do. This is like your mind in crisis. If the issue is dealt with correctly, swiftly, and with care, there could be minimal damage requiring few repairs. However, if the fire becomes out of control, is not dealt with in an appropriate time or manner, the fire can devastate the home and potentially burn it to the ground. Now, either way, we assume in this scenarios that the person survives the fire, however, they still need a home. They have the funds to rebuild (i.e. the physical capacity/inner will) and they have options for how to rebuild their mind.

The fire in my mind required me to rebuild my mind entirely. I sought to have as sound of an infrastructure as prior to my mental health issues, filled with even greater knowledge sets and skills sets structured to fulfill my purpose in this life. This looked like doing self-interviews in real life, reading books on mental health, watching documentaries, creating as much as I could, and praying to God that I would get my mind back.

Trauma may be able to set a fire, but you have the power to put it out. If you need help from a professional there is no shame in that, my best advice however is to thoroughly research the individuals you are going to entrust with your care. You are in charge of your mind, the work you put in to make it stronger, and the knowledge you feed it to make it wiser.

Feel your power, claim it, and own your experience.

Wishing you love & light,

Arielle London

How To Conduct A “Self-Interview” While You Heal

To kick off Mental Health Awareness Month on London Mind Fit, I am going to start with a very important technique that I used during recovery. In fact, it’s something I continue to use and see myself using for a long time. It’s called a “self-interview.”

At a time when the majority of the world is in, or emerging from, some sort of lockdown, collective mental stability is essential right now. Maintaining our critical thinking at this time is more important than anything but making sure not to lose ourselves and what is important to us is another.

No matter where you are on your journey of healing or self-discovery, I find it helps to periodically conduct a “self-interview”. I started this practice when I was in a debilitating depression where my self-expression was practically null. When I began interviewing myself I did it verbally because I wanted to hone my verbal skills back to the level of expression they were at before, or better, and through this practice and other exercises as well, I recovered.

Recovery is a process, one that I continue to be in every single day. This is what I committed to and what is most important, and I have seen the results of putting my mental health first help transform my life for the better. Improvement is what is important here, not achieving some sort of image of perfection.

A self-interview is simple, although for some it may be harder to complete than others. That’s okay though. Some self-interviews are very emotional because we are the ones asking the questions, and when it comes down to it, we want the answers to the big ones. If you’re not sure where to start, perhaps consider setting the lighting to one you are comfortable with and meditating first. Or, if you’re ready, dive right in!

Aim to ask yourself around 5 questions but don’t be disappointed if you start with less or even go over. The idea is to not overdo it but also to get to a good place in your responses, and believe me, the responses can be revealing.

You can conduct a self-interview verbally or in writing, and I would recommend doing the writing by hand and the verbal interview definitely when you are alone. I am a writer. Sometimes I use dialogue to illustrate a point, so writing in someone else’s voice is something that comes naturally to me. But this is something ANYONE can do. You just have to believe that you can.

If you find that it’s just not working but you’re committed to seeing what you find out about yourself and how it helps you with your freedom of expression & communication skills, start with brainstorming labels of identities that you associate with. Then use some of those labels that you identify with to help guide your questions like an interviewer looking at you would.

If you want to hear a little bit more about the self-interview and the origins of this practice in my healing process listen to the episode of The Eric Ibey Podcast where I discuss it.

Healing is a journey we all take, and mental health is something that affects everyone. You have a mind right? It’s in your body, right?  So, therefore by law it must also be subject to at least some of the same principles as the rest of the physical form even if it has its differences. Well, I applied the concept of repetition in exercises like for a physical workout towards my brain at a time when everything looked bleak and got out of it. Now that I’m in this place, I’m going to do everything in my power to stay here and continue to improve. In the process, I am also in a place to share the journey with others.

Balance is essential, but learning who you are in life can help any person, whether these words resonate with you or not. For me, the self-interview helps when I need some unscrambling, venting, clarifying, or healing. For you, perhaps you can find that it is helpful in different ways. But whichever way you look at it, you really don’t have anything to lose in trying it out.

The one fear you have to overcome prior is finding out the truth about yourself. The intention and expectation is that you will answer these questions honestly, otherwise you will get no where. You are supposed to learn what you want to know about YOU, not someone else.

Another great tip is to envision your favourite interviewer asking you the questions. I visualized Barbara Walters and Oprah to start, and now I don’t need to envision anyone else doing the asking.

An example question and answer from a written self-interview I did in 2019 is:

Q. What is it about mental health that makes you so interested in the field?

A. The fact that I had accomplished as much learning about health, had experience in the field, and an attentive eye on the mental health crisis affecting our global community and yet, until my bipolar diagnosis, I didn’t know the full extent of what mental health was. How deep it could go and how complex it can be.

The answer goes on for another long paragraph, but you get the idea. Ask yourself things you would want to know about yourself and go from there. This sample question is from a 6-question long interview that I conducted at a time when I needed to make, what to me was a big decision. I may not have come to the decision through the interview immediately, but it helped me in the process to see things clearer.

Make no apologies for what you do to maintain your mental health and never assume that it does not apply to you to do some work because there was a day when I had no diagnoses or real issues to speak of. Prevention is key to avoiding any type of crisis. Who cares if you look silly to someone else? It’s your mind, and it deserves some attention and challenging exercise sometimes.

If you’re looking for a place to start with your mental health, this is an effective practice to throw into the mix.

And if it doesn’t work for you, cool, but it could work for someone else who needs it.

It worked for me.

Baby Steps Are Essential

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.

London Mind Fit & The Eric Ibey Podcast

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!