In the month of July, I shared on my Social Media my experiences with Bipolar and Dating, Mental Health and Education, and Mental Health and Ministry. I did Instastory posts on Instagram @sheree.p.braswell sharing my journey because I am not ready to blog or do a Youtube video fully about it but prayerfully one day I will. But I did want to write a blogpost about how it's been 7 years since my last hospitalization in psychiatric care! I've had four hospitalizations and ever since my last one in 2014, I realized that something was truly wrong with me that I had no control over. That I did have a mental illness and I needed to take care of my mental health. I've learned taking care of your mental health should be a priority just like your physical health should be and that it is just as important. I had to learn there is no shame in having a mental illness and I had to unlearn the myths and let go of the stigma around it. I had my ideas about mental illness that were totally wrong before being diagnosed. When I got in the shoes of those who dealt with the things that I looked as "crazy" or embarrassing, I realized you never know what someone is experiencing until you are in their shoes. It has definitely been a humbling experience. Being diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder has been a bit of a rollercoaster ride but I am learning how to manage and get through. I 'm going to share 7 ways on how I have been able to manage my mental health to stay out of hospital.
Disclaimer: If I have to be hospitalized again due to my mental health...that is okay. I don't want to anyone to feel ashamed of going to the mental hospital and receiving professional help. I was actually told by a doctor "I don't ever want to see you here again!" I knew he meant well but it stuck with me...what if I need to go back because I can't get myself together mentally and was having another nervous breakdown? Relapses are normal with mental illness. I don't want anyone to feel the shame I felt about being hospitalized four times. Don't give into the shame others will try to impress on you for seeking help and needing to be hospitalized. ONCE AGAIN, there is no shame in having mental illness. Being healthy and safe is what matters most!
These 7 things has helped me to manage my mental health and stay out of the hospital. I hope this helps someone!
1. I take my meds daily. I know people like to pill shame people but there is nothing wrong with taking medication. God uses doctors and medicine to heal people as well. I am all for supernatural healing but I no longer question God's sovereignty if he was to take me off my meds or not. I trust that God has me in the palm of his Hands and He cares for me. He is an amazing God that loves me. Yes, this may seem like a thorn in my flesh but He allowed my sorrow and pain turn into purpose to help and bring forth healing to others. Since I've taken Lithium in 2014, I've been the most stable because I actually gave myself time to get used to the meds and heal. Mental illness is a chemical imbalance...medication helps with it.
2. I go to therapy VERY frequently. I honestly believe everyone needs a therapist whether you have mental illness or not. Therapy has been so helpful in my inner healing process and mental well-being. I literally learned a lot and how to educate myself as well as learn from my amazing therapist on how to manage my mental health and learn how to overcome stagnation in my healing process. I learned about my disorder, how to overcome triggers, unlearn the myths and stigma and really turn this misery that I experienced with the illness into a ministry and soon to be career.
3. I grow in spiritual health. Going to a church that operates in healing and deliverance has helped me to grow in my faith in God and literally lean onto Jesus. It has given me a better outlook on life even in the rough moments. God has seen me through every valley and has been with me. If you doubt that He will do that for you...know that He is no respecter of persons. He longs to be with you every step of the way. My faith has definitely been tested during this journey but it has definitely made me stronger. I need God and I can't do this life without Him. Prayer ALWAYS, meditation and doing Christian yoga from time to time has helped me combat anxiety, stress, and depression as well.
4. I work on my health and fitness. Your eating habits have a HUGE role on your mood. Eating healthier and exercising even if it's just 15 minutes a day helps boost your mood, relieves stress and combats anxiety and depression. You will not only look great by doing this but you will feel so much better too! I am still on this journey...it's definitely a marathon not a sprint. It should be for a lifestyle and not a quick fix. Let go of vanity reasons for your health and focus on the health and healing you will receive mind, body and spirit when you do. Looks are just a bonus!
5. I laugh daily. I have a funny laugh but I enjoy watching something that would make me laugh. I try to watch something or talk with someone that I can laugh with daily. Life can be stressful and stress can definitely trigger my illness but when I'm on the phone we are definitely going to be cracking jokes. When I'm reminded of some things I have said and done while sick...I make light of it by cracking jokes. My favorite social media people to watch that makes me laugh are @KevOnStage and @TonyBaker voice overs on Instagram. Life is too short to be so serious. Just Laugh! P.S. laughter does help boosts your moods and lessen depression as well.
6. I connect with my family and friends. Bonding with family and friends whether online, over the phone or in person helps me to feel so loved and eased with my disorder. Leaning onto them for support, love, encouragement and a hug has helped me during the toughest times. Sometimes, I want to isolate but they help me to see there is no need to so. I appreciate them so much.
7. I disconnect from Social Media. Sometimes social media can be overwhelming for me and can trigger me. When I catch myself too caught up in the Web (no pun intended haha lol) I can become consumed with the lives of others and there can be so much drama, grief, and stress. It was definitely a huge comparison thing for me as well but I'm learning to stay in my own lane. I disconnect with Social media and connect more with God, family and friends. I love it when I disconnect. Honestly, if it wasn't for the benefits of networking and promoting my books and keeping up with long distance family and friends to see pictures and videos, I would not have a social media.
BONUS**: I TRAVEL! Traveling has helped me reset and refresh myself. Not saying it has kept me out of the hospital but it has helped me with my mental health. A change of scenery is always nice. It feels good to have new experiences, see new people and do new things. Even if it is just traveling to a new city in your state...just try it. Even if it just going to the beach and spend time with God. Just do it. Breathe in and out and experience nature and embrace the breeze through the air. Pay attention to the smells, how the sky look and how the birds chirp and fly.
Don't forget to express gratitude to God and those you love. Having a habit of gratefulness does wonders for mental health and changes your perspective on life. You can purchase gratitude journals on Amazon.
And just in case you didn't know I have THREE published books!! YAYY! I'm so excited to share with you in the near future my fourth book but for now I want you to know you can purchase my books now on Amazon. Look up my name: Sheree Braswell and all three books should pop up. I will attach the links to purchase your copy as well. Please be sure to share!
Here are the links to my books:
Hope you are staying well and are mentally okay! I am praying for you!
Until Next Time...