Featured

The Journey

Winners vs. Losers

I hate failing. I absolutely loathe the feeling when I play a game of scrabble with my mum, and she absolutely decimates every opponent, including me. I remember once, I protested in disbelief that she defeated everyone. The rest of the players had accepted that they lost but I struggled to gracefully lose.

If you want to see another example of a bitter loser, then look no further than across the pond, at the contested results of the US Elections.

Even though I was dejected by the defeat at scrabble, I recognised that it didn’t change the circumstances. My mum won, I lost. It was an uncomfortable reality that I had to become accustomed to.

Recently, I came to the realisation that I viewed life from the same prism with which I viewed the game. Hence, I felt as if I was losing in life whereas others were winning. The difference is, life isn’t a game, and it can be detrimental to view it as a race against others.

The ideology of winning and losing that I developed was based on societies standards of success. Success in quantifiable achievements i.e. completing my Honours Degree, acquiring a house, passing my practical driver’s test and having a full time job.

I understood that these accomplishments wouldn’t get me to heaven and I would never be satiated by comparing myself to others. However, I couldn’t change my mindset.

Comparison

Then, the penny dropped when I had my therapy session. I spoke to my therapist about my debilitating thoughts and she reminded me that

Comparison is the thief of joy.

As soon as I heard that proverb, I mentally time-travelled to the past, when I listened to a sermon about God ordering our steps. The sentiments of the sermon were that God has placed each one of us on a unique path because He wants to build our character and He has set us apart (ordained us) for a specific purpose.

In the sermon, the preacher used the quote “Comparison is the thief of joy” and related it to the children of Israel, who were encouraged to follow the “cloud” not the “crowd”. The cloud represented the glory of God and the crowd represented human beings. This resonated with me as, at times, I felt like it was easier to follow the crowd rather than follow God.

When I recognised that my therapist and the preacher used the same maxim, it reinforced the importance of applying the message to my life. If I wanted to overcome the feeling of lack of fulfilment and worthlessness, I had to cease comparing myself to others and see myself through God’s lenses.

God doesn’t look at us the way we tend to look at others – by their actions and the way they are in that moment. Rather, He looks at our potential [through Him] and believes that we have the victory because He already won the battle for us. He won when He sent His only begotten son, Jesus, to die for our sins.

Focus on the process not the outcome

Another gem that my therapist shared was,

Don’t focus only on the outcome, focus on the process.

This was something that I needed to hear as I was tunnel visioned with regards to achieving my goals, to the extent that I would not consider the journey to accomplishing my hearts desires.

I have learnt to appreciate the journey that God has placed me on. Even when I think that it isn’t where I expected to be, it is exactly where I need to be.

There is a Proverb in the Bible which says, “In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps.” (Proverbs 16:9).

Sometimes it seems like you are taking steps backwards, but remember that you are exactly where you need to be. The journey to your destination is not linear. It isn’t easy. It will include some highs and lows but you have to keep pushing forward.

Where is your destination?

So we have comprehended that life isn’t a race and we should focus on the process. But the question still remains, where are we going?

Some people hate formulating goals. Others can’t function without them. Regardless of whether you love or hate goals, the fact of the matter is that we all have aspirations of some kind. The aspirations could range from being a data scientist to possessing a peace of mind.

It is natural to aspire to obtain something that you don’t already have. However, we need to recognise that we already have a great amount of blessings.

Having a sound mind, good physical health, knowing that you are loved by God, family, friends, and the list goes on. There are so many blessings in our lives that we often take them for granted.

My challenge to you is to count your blessings each day and see how your perspective changes. Once you’re perspective changes, you will be content before you even reach your final destination.

Blessings x

Sponsored Post Learn from the experts: Create a successful blog with our brand new courseThe WordPress.com Blog

WordPress.com is excited to announce our newest offering: a course just for beginning bloggers where you’ll learn everything you need to know about blogging from the most trusted experts in the industry. We have helped millions of blogs get up and running, we know what works, and we want you to to know everything we know. This course provides all the fundamental skills and inspiration you need to get your blog started, an interactive community forum, and content updated annually.

Life Update – 2020 Recap

If I could describe 2020 in three words, I would use the words – uncomfortable, growth, and gratitude.

Uncomfortable

The uncertainty of the pandemic, loss of family friends, racial injustice, managing my mental health, changing jobs, not visiting family, just to say a few.

All these experiences have tested me to the core, however, I can now say that I’m thankful for what I’ve learnt through the situations.

The uncomfortable events have encouraged me to exercise love and kindness to myself and others. Also, I learnt that although I can’t control what happens, I have power to chose how to react.

Growth

When I realised that I could control how I react to situations, I started to look into how I can take on challenges in a way that makes me more resilient.

One of the ways was by viewing my “obstacles” as “opportunities” for growth, always finding out what I can learn from the uncomfortable feelings or experiences.

Growth has definitely been a priority this year. I’ve prioritised it by reading more, setting goals in therapy, having thought-provoking conversations that lead me to action, and trying out new things (even changing careers).

Gratitude

Finally, I can testify that Paul was right when he said, “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

When I remember where God led me from, and how my life has changed dramatically over the past 5 years, I have nothing but praise and gratitude to God.

It’s easy to take for granted the blessings you have in your life today but it’s good to be intentional about reminding yourself so that you can cease from seeing yourself as unlucky but see yourself as a blessed and highly favoured child of the King.

Life Update: Story Camp Experience

Hello all, it has been a while since I posted on this blog site.

Today, I’m going to focus on the positivity rather than the negativity. There has been a lot of chaos and confusion taking place in the world. Although we are living in unprecedented, uncertain times, there is still hope and reasons to smile amidst the storm.

So, let’s get straight into the life update. 

This summer, I had the privilege of taking part in an online StoryCamp by TimeToChange, a mental health organisation/movement that aims to end the stigma of mental health through campaigns, surveys, resources, etc. 

StoryCamp 2020 was about sharing your experiences with mental health and other aspects of life. There were themes each fortnight that covered different topics from “how to support someone with a mental health condition”, to “the other side of mental health”. 

In my opinion, it was an educative, exciting and edifying experience. I found it educative as I learnt a lot about how to structure my writing. I realised that it’s more about quality over quantity. I used to be set on writing an elongated piece but neglected the attention to structure. Now, I write shorter pieces and people are more receptive to the message.

When I shared the creative piece, I was pleasantly surprised with the reception I received from people on Facebook. I made an infographic with 8 practical mental health tips. The feedback I received was amazing and made me feel like I had come a long way from the beginning of StoryCamp when I was extremely timid with regards to sharing my mental health knowledge or experiences. 

StoryCamp was exciting because we were encouraged to allow our creativity to aid our storytelling. You may think this was a simple task however, I found it difficult initially. I had to push my mental boundaries and go outside my comfort zone to discover how to create content that I was ultimately comfortable with sharing.

Last but not least, I found the whole StoryCamp edifying because I was able to get exposed to a community of wonderful people who have their own lived experiences with mental health and I read about how they managed their mental illness and how they persevered. It was great to read their inspiring blogs and I definitely hope the community group will stay active. 

In summary, I am grateful for the experience I had in taking part in StoryCamp. Furthermore, I would absolutely recommend checking out the @TimeToChange website and joining StoryCamp2021.

Love and peace to you all 🙂

How to Persevere

Another inspirational blog from Life lessons with Clare! This one is a must read!!

Life lessons with Clare

Role Models

don't give upHave you ever been in a crisis that seems never-ending? Or a circumstance that seems to ruin your plans, and you feel like you can’t keep going anymore?

Thanks to many people, who’ve chosen never to give up in their crises, we have so many examples of how to persevere when we don’t know what the future holds. I’d like to share a story with you below that inspires me to keep going.

Stopping At Nothing!

Born into a family of surfers and living in Kauai, from young, Bethany Hamilton’s dream was to surf. At age 8, she started competitive surfing and got her first sponsorship at 9 years old. bethany young

She won her age group and older surfers at the Local Motion-Ezekiel Surf Into Summer contest in 2003 and came second in the open women’s division of the National Scholastic Surfing Association (NSSA) National Championships in California. She…

View original post 563 more words

The Other Side Of Mental Health Part 2 – The Link Between Spiritual and Mental Health

Introduction

As part of @TimeToChange’s StoryCamp, I am writing about my experiences that might be less understood.

My last blog was about how my mental health affected my university situation. Today’s blog is about how my mental health effects my spiritual health.

Spiritual health is very significant to me as my faith has always been a big part of my life. I was born into a Christian family, and over time, I developed a personal relationship with God.

Disclaimer

Some of the subjects discussed in this blog are sensitive and may distress people. However, I want to end on a positive note because I believe there is always light at the end of the tunnel, especially pertaining to spiritual health.

Delusions

Some people who are diagnosed with psychosis experience religious delusions. I am one of them.

Delusions are defined as fixed, false beliefs that conflict with reality.

These delusions attack my belief system. They cause me to question what I have confidence in, such as the origin of life (which I believe comes from God).

Hallucinations

Hallucinations are defined as the “perception of a nonexistent object or event” and “sensory experiences that are not caused by stimulation of the relevant sensory organs.”

Hallucinations can also cause people to believe that themselves or other people aren’t who they say they are. This can make people feel insecure about their beliefs.

When I was in hospital, I heard auditory hallucinations that made me think my dad was the devil. I was perplexed and petrified at the idea that my own father could be associated with such evil. This affected how I interacted with him and others. It ultimately impacted my relationship with God and skewed my view of my religion.

Faith Tested

When someone is recovering from psychosis or any other mental health problem, their faith in what they hold dear may be tested. My faith was tested countless times when my perception and cognition adversely affected my belief in God and my belief in myself. Sometimes it was because of vivid nightmares, racing thoughts, or something that occurred during the day that triggered my psychosis.

I developed grounding techniques that could help me stay rooted in what I believe and love. I would quote my favourite Bible verses or say a positive affirmation.

One of my favourite verses is:

Psalm 23:4 – Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

This was a great soothing technique for me as it reminded me that’s God comforts me in my darkest moments and I don’t need to fear anything.

Holistic approach

From my experiences and knowledge, I believe that mental health and spiritual health are inextricably linked. Hence, a holistic approach to recovery is the best approach. It covers all aspects of a person’s wellbeing (mental, spiritual, physical, emotional) and helps improve our quality of life.

Ever since I took a holistic approach to my recovery, I noticed significant improvements. I am not where I was before. I’m able to distinguish between reality and fiction. Although I sometimes have nightmares, they don’t leave me in despair and feeling hopeless. I can truly say I am pleased with my progress.

Conclusion

If there is anything I want to you to take away from this blog it is this: Keep on going. Don’t give up. Hang in there. One day your mess will become your message.

I didn’t think that from my mental health experiences, I would encourage others and have opportunities to share the lessons I’ve learnt.

Yes, spiritual and mental health is misunderstood. However, you have the choice to learn more about what works for you and you have your life experiences that will aid you to get to the point where you are content with your wellbeing.

The Other Side of Mental Health part 1 – Leaving University

Did you know, data reveals that 1,180 students who experienced mental ill health, left courses early in 2014-15, up 210% from 2009-10? Shocking, right?

As part of @TimeToChange’s StoryCamp, I am writing about my experiences that might be less understood.

One of the things I feel isn’t understood or isn’t talked about so much is how mental health problems can affect your studying/work situation.

When I was first diagnosed with psychosis, I was studying psychology at university and I was on a positive trajectory. Then I was sectioned under the Mental Health Act, meaning I was hospitalised against my own will. So, I left university in January 2018. Then in June 2018, I was sectioned again.

After leaving hospital and coming back into the community, I had to live with the uncomfortable reality that I may not go to university for a while. To make matters worse, I received emails from the Student Loans Company in the UK, saying that I owe them grant overpayments. This increased my stress levels. 

More recently, I have sent complaints to the organisation that asked for the payments. It’s a shame that some organisations aren’t empathetic towards individuals who have been through a lot with their mental health. However, I hope that I can challenge them to change their policies and regulations, so that they don’t discriminate against people with mental health problems.

I have spent many nights crying because of my thoughts that my mental health hindered my prospects of getting the dream career or finishing my studies. But over time, I’m starting to shift my perspective and look at my mental health condition as something that can be used to my advantage. 

Because of my mental health experiences, I am able to empathise with people and show them more compassion. It also enhances my passion to pursue a career as a mental health social worker, because I have received support from mental health support workers and I see the opportunities for me to support and give back to my community. 

Please share with me how your mental health experiences have affected your work or studies. 

3 things that aid my mental health

Hello everyone, I am taking part in @TimeToChange’s StoryCamp. I decided to write about 3 things that aid my mental health because these three things, as well as other healthy coping mechanisms, have transformed my lifestyle and significantly improved my mental wellbeing.

  1. Positive affirmations

Sometimes, I experience racing thoughts. They intend to control my life, however, I realised that I have the power to control them.

I experienced racing thoughts just before I was sectioned under the Mental Health Act. After that experience, I associated racing thoughts with being hospitalised. This association caused me to experience a lot of anxiety.

I have found that when I think of positive affirmations to replace the debilitating thoughts, the negative thoughts eventually disappear. For example, I may think “I am going to fall ill and go into hospital.” So, I change my thought by intentionally saying to myself “I will be well and stay well”.

This is something that has aided my mental health in a tremendous way. I believe my recovery journey has been smoother because of the positive thoughts.

2. Exercise 

I can’t express the extent to which exercise has aided my mental health. Being physically active has helped: improve my mood, manage stress, improved my sleep, connect with people (walking club), and increased my self-esteem.

If you exercise regularly, you will experience the benefits within three months, or even less!

There may be someone reading who doesn’t find exercise therapeutic. The great thing is that you do not need to restrict yourself to only one form of exercise. For example, I do not enjoy running outside. However, I do enjoy running or jogging on the spot. I also enjoy doing high intensity interval training. But that might not be for you. So, you can find another form of exercise that suits you.

3. Sleep 

Sleep is a vital aspect of maintaining a positive wellbeing. I didn’t realise the importance of sleep until I was diagnosed with my mental illness. Prior to my psychosis, I was sleeping extremely late and sometimes waking up quite early, so I wasn’t able to get quality sleep. Due to this, I would feel quite lethargic during the day and mentally, I felt under stress because I was never getting a good amount of rest.

Now that I have realised how beneficial sleep is, I make sure I get at least eight hours of sleep and have developed good sleeping habits. Some of these include: gratitude journaling before I go to bed to put my mind at ease, eating earlier, having a comfortable sleeping environment and sleeping before 12am.

Now that my sleeping patterns have improved, I feel more energised when I wake up, and happy that I am looking after my wellbeing.

The Grand Design

I’d recommend you read this great blog by Clare!

Life lessons with Clare

art guy

Have you ever looked at an artist creating a picture, and you can’t guess what they’re creating until it’s done, and you see the bigger picture?

Our individual lives are like pictures being created by a Master Artist (God, if we let Him), and we often look at how are lives are while the Artist is still in the process of creating the picture, and we get confused.

Sometimes, life doesn’t seem to be going well, and we don’t know whether the Artist knows what they’re doing, or what the future holds for us. Ever felt that way?

Grit

The old, true story of a young man got me thinking that it’s possible to stay calm when you’re circumstances are unfortunate. Though favoured and mollycoddled by his father, life was about to get ugly for him.

He had 11 brothers (I know, crazy right?) and all except one were bitter…

View original post 685 more words