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.

Dismantle Your Triggers

Dismantle your triggers.

Do not fear them.

Identify them.

Write them down.

Break them down.

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.

I Am Close-Minded (A Poem)

In 2010 I wrote a poem out of frustration. I remember sitting at the table in my flat writing this piece while I was supposed to be studying as a way to make sense of the world around me. I wrote a lot of poetry around this time since life was swirling in so many different ways, and as I was becoming more and more hypersensitive to the news, I increasingly needed to rely on my creative outlets to get me through the heartbreaking truths of our society.

This week, I tried relentlessly to record a video of myself discussing what is going on right now in the media, specifically in regards to the murder of George Floyd. I sat down 3 or 4 times to do it, wrote notes on what I wanted to say, but when it came down to it I couldn’t express how I truly felt.

Then I remembered my poem, I Am Close-Minded.

Right now we are seeing an incredible amount of division, racism, and exploitation of power globally. The news has been overwhelming for many for a while, but right now it seems to have come to a clear head for many of us who are tired of seeing innocent Black lives be stolen because of the systemic injustice of racism that has yet to be addressed worldwide.

I Am Close-Minded encapsulates how I feel in this moment, despite the fact that it was written one decade ago. It could have been written today, but it wasn’t. What has changed from the time that I wrote this poem and today is that social media exploded over these past ten years. While our main news sources were largely mainstream media corporations back then, now social media dictates where our attention goes. There is people power in that.

This poem is helping me right now, I hope it can do the same for you.