Enemies of Progress Part 1 – Fear

Psalm 138:7 – Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life. You stretch out your hand against the anger of my foes; with your right hand, you save me.

We all have enemies. Some come in the form of people whereas other enemies come in the form of things.

In this blog series, we will be looking at three different types of enemies – Fear, Food, and Frenemies (the three F’s).

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Introduction

Fear is an unpleasant emotion that is characterised by feeling scared or hopeless.

The problem with fear is that it gets in between you reaching your full potential. It can consume your life to the point that you don’t see any reason to live.

Symptoms of Fear 

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In a book by Sarah E. Ball called Fearless in 21 days, she brings across an interesting concept that fear isn’t our enemy, Satan is. Fear became a natural response to danger as a result of sin. Satan twisted godly fear into torment (1 John 4:18).

Some of the symptoms of torment/fear are: panic attacks, physical exhaustion, cold hands and feet, inability to think clearly, disrupted sleep.

If you experience any of these symptoms on a regular basis, it is important to talk about your feelings to a friend, family member, health professional or counsellor. You could also contact Samaritans (call: 116 123, if you need someone to talk to).

Racism, Anger and Fear 

interracial-hands-stop-racism-campaign_18591-64829At the time when I wrote this blog, there were (and still are) horrible things taking place in the world. One of them has been around for thousands of years, and is an uncomfortable reality – racism. The abominable acts that we have seen in the media have brought out different feelings out of different people. Some of the feelings are anger and fear.

There are many reasons why people are angry or fearful. Some people are infuriated with the injustice, especially when it is trivialised and it seems like nothing is done about it. Whereas, others are frightened of losing their lives or the their loved ones to racist hate crime.

Sometimes, certain media platforms and organisations encourage people to stay away from the news in order to preserve their positive wellbeing. In my opinion, I think it is about having a balance. Yes, it is important to look after your mental health but it is also vital to be informed about what is happening around us. We have to be informed firstly before we can think about making a difference.

So I would encourage you to find out what is going on in the world. It doesn’t have to be through the news. It could be through books, online blogs, documentaries, etc.

Fear may be one of the things preventing us from educating ourselves on these issues. But as Marie Curie said, “Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more so that we may fear less.” And as the great Nelson Mandela also said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”

God’s Promises

pexels-photo-3902732During these tumultuous times of a pandemic, many people, including myself, react by feeling fearful for the future. When we are fearful, we need to remind ourselves of God’s promises.

One of the promises that continually encourages me is “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11).

This promise was given by God to the children of Israel, who hadn’t kept God’s covenant and were experiencing the consequences of rejecting God. However, He didn’t give up on them and assured them that He would see them through to the end.

We have to believe that God hasn’t given up on us. If we allow His will to be done in our lives, He will ensure that all things that we go through will work together for our good, and He will carry out His purpose through us (Romans 8:28).

Fear of Missing Out (FOMO)

black_man_phone_cafe_upset-100719384-largeAnother type of fear that is dangerous and sadly pervades society today, more than ever before, is the fear of missing out. It’s easy to look at people’s Instagram posts and Snapchat stories and think that life looks lush. Remember, the grass always looks greener on the other side until you realise it’s astroturf.

Sometimes it feels like everyone else’s life is better than yours. This is an unrealistic feeling. Try not compare yourself to others. Everything takes time. Appreciate the journey you are on because it’s your journey.

What helps me deal with fear 

life affirmationsSo far, we’ve talked about fear that is related to anxiety, and fear of missing out. However, there are more types of fear that we haven’t discussed. You may wonder `”how can you overcome all the different types of fear?”

I have asked myself the same question many a times. Personally, I find it helpful when I replace my negative thoughts with positive thoughts, by using positive affirmations. These are realistic affirmations, for example, “by God’s Grace I will be fine”, and “with God, I can do anything”.

A book called Life affirmations from scripture by Shelley Quinn has also helped transform my negative thoughts into positive thoughts. Applying the biblical promises in the book has caused me to shift my perspective, and realise, I am not a victim of the devil; instead I am a victor through Jesus Christ.

Practical Tips

A practical tip I gave you earlier was to seek help. You can also:

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  1. Check in with yourself
  2. Look after your body – Balanced diet, adequate sleep, regular exercise and hydration, etc. These things may seem insignificant, but they can go a long way to improving your wellbeing. You won’t necessarily always get quick results but the long term benefits will be worthwhile. According to Michael W. Otto and Jasper A. J. Smits, PhD, those who exercise regularly are 25% less likely to develop depression or anxiety disorder.
  3. Deep breathing  – It’s natural to resort to shallow breathing when you are stressed out, but if you are more intentional about your breathing. It can make your body feel more relaxed.mni-indian-man-praying-prayer-hands
  4. Count your blessings – This is something that can be difficult to do at first, because our minds naturally gravitate towards the negative instead of the positive. But when we think about the blessings that God has poured out upon us in the past, it definitely lifts our mood. Always remember that the words we speak to our minds have power to make us or break us. So let us feed our minds  with positivity.
  5. Biblical meditation – This is when you meditate on God’s Word (Psalm 19:14). “However,” as Sarah E. Ball says, “there is a very distinct difference between biblical meditation, New Age Meditation, and Eastern religion meditation.” Some of these forms of meditation include repeating a phrase or word until you feel calm. Yoga (meaning “yoked to the divine”) is about being connected to the spirit realm of nothingness. Many of these practices go against what the biblical meaning of meditation is, which is to think about God’s Word and rest in Him. I could go on and on but I’ll leave you with this text if you are not sure which type of meditation is for you – Romans 12:1-2 .

Conclusion

I know that the effects of fear are far-reaching, and it can seem as if there is no hope. But have faith that your fear won’t consume you. Faith is the evidence of things not seen, so even if you are currently feeling fear, don’t think that you have lost the battle. Keep on choosing to overcome fear with the tips above, along with other advice that you may find helpful.

Thanks for reading 🙂 Please comment if you have any other tips on how to overcome fear!

Dealing with a diagnosis

diagnosis

A few months ago, I had to come to terms with a new version of my diagnosis. This was difficult at first because of my preconceived ideas about it. I believed that I had the type of diagnosis that a psychiatrist gives to someone who has no chance of recovering. Also, I believed that it was a sign that my mental state was getting worse. In reality, my mental health was improving and my thoughts towards the diagnosis were false.

The purpose of this article is to help anyone who struggles to come to terms with their situation or has distorted thoughts about it.

In this article, I will give you 7 tips on how to deal with understanding your mental illness.

  1. Research your diagnosis

mental health diagnosispexels-photo-3958403This is a good place to start if you have never heard of it before. Researching will give you more of an idea of what other people with the same illness experience. Moreover, you will be able to see if their experiences resonate with your own.

When you do research, you may get a better understanding of your triggers (although these will vary depending on the person), the range of symptoms you experience, and the types of treatments available to you.

When I became aware of my condition, my diagnosis had an extremely long name and there was little information on it. This made me think that my condition was different from everyone else’s. Then I went to a day treatment centre where I met people who went through similar situations, and that made me realise that I am not alone.

2. Understand yourself

new-how-to-better-understand-yourself-via-character-survey-1I think it is very important to understand who you are, regardless of your situation. If you can manage your wellbeing when things seem calm, you will find it easier to manage your mental health problems when the storm comes.

If you already have an idea of what aids your mental health and what causes it to deteriorate, you will be able to use the right coping mechanisms to maintain a positive mental wellbeing.

Some examples of healthy coping mechanisms are: reading, cooking, singing, playing an instrument, exercise, etc.

Knowing your strengths and limitations can also be helpful as it gives you an idea of how to manage your mental health, without a psychiatrist or other professional telling you.

For example, you may struggle to handle with stress in certain situations.  So don’t force yourself to do too much in one day.  On the other hand, you may thrive in social situations, so make an effort to spend time with your loved ones. It’s all about finding out what works for you.

3. Don’t let the diagnosis define you

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It is imperative to know that your diagnosis doesn’t consume your identity. It is just a label that helps yourself and mental health professionals categorise you, based on your symptoms and history of your illness.

When I learnt about my mental health problem, I was scared about how people would view me when they find out. After all, I heard “friends” associate people with mental ill health with killers and dangerous people. I didn’t want them to think that I am like that. 

When I asked my psychiatrist about what I should say to people, he replied, “you don’t have to tell people”. He then went on to explain how I could be as vague or as specific as I wanted to be.

If you want to keep your mental illness to yourself and only a small knit group, then so be it. If you feel comfortable to open up to people, then that’s ok. Please don’t let others ideas and views about you dictate how you view yourself.

4. Think about treatment

treatment

Mental health treatment can come in the form of:

  • Talking treatments (counselling, CBT, psychological therapy, talking treatment, etc)
  • Medicine (Antidepressants, antipsychotics, mood stabilisers, etc)
  • Art and creative therapies (art, music, dance movement therapists, etc)
  • Complementary and alternative therapies (aromatherapy, natural remedies)

For more information and links on the mental health treatment, visit this link.

It is definitely a good idea to consider treatment as soon as you are aware of your mental illness. Just like physical health conditions, it is better if you get mental health treatment earlier.

It is beneficial to get treatment because it can help improve your quality of life. Although living with a mental illness can be difficult, getting a suitable treatment will make it more manageable.

Additionally, treatments can help improve your physical health by improving your sleeping habits, boosting your immune system, and lowering pain levels. Improved physical health can have long lasting effects, for example, it could lead to increasing your life expectancy.

I can personally testify that ever since I started using a range of treatments, my recovery has been a lot smoother. For example, I went to a health treatment centre where I received a life protocol that involved me changing my eating habits, drinking more water, and exercising more. This caused my mental and physical state to significantly improve in less than three months. It changed my life for the better.

5. Think about recovery

Recovery-signpost

“You can recover from mental illness. Recovery means different things to different people. Personal recovery is about working towards something that is important to you. And having hope for the future” (Rethink Mental illness).

It is possible that you may still experience symptoms during your recovery journey. For example, I still occasionally experience symptoms even though I’m recovering.

When I experience the symptoms, I remind myself the it is actually a journey. It won’t be easy. Don’t worry about how quick it will take you to get to the finished line. The most important thing is that you will get there in the end.

We should strive to be like apostle Paul, who was able to say about his life, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” – 2 Timothy 4:7.

Keeping the faith is key. If you lose faith in God as soon as a hurdle is in your sight, then you have to change your outlook on the race, and accept that there are more obstacles to overcome. This means that you may need to train more and build your spiritual muscles, so that you can run the race with endurance and stamina.

The great news is that you don’t have to do it on your own, God is with you throughout the whole journey; He will keep you and sustain you.

6. Talk about your mental state

conversationTalking about your mental healyh can come in various forms:

  • Speaking to someone face to face
  • Speaking on the phone
  • Writing a letter
  • Writing a blog
  • Start by journaling and then transition to speaking.
  • Practice speaking in the mirror before you talk to someone, if you are struggling to do so.

I would suggest, first talk to a person you can trust and confide in. They may be easier to talk to than someone you don’t have a relationship with.

One of the reasons why talking about your diagnosis is helpful, is because it can help to reduce the stigma that you or others have on mental health. This can be done by talking about it more regularly.

When I have written about being sectioned on my blog or other media outlets, people have told me that they didn’t know that someone who looks like me can go through mental health problems. I believe that this reduces the stigma that people with mental illness look a certain way. People begin to realise that mental health problems can affect anyone.

Another reason why talking about a diagnosis can be helpful is because someone else might be going through the same thing or a similar mental illness, and you could encourage them.

Approximately, 1 in 4 people in the UK will experience mental health problems each year. This means that it is quite prevalent, however people still don’t talk about it often. Talking about mental health can help a friend feel like someone else understands them.

7. Stick to what you do know and leave the unknown in God’s hands

The mind is very complex, so it will be impossible to have a full understanding of what exactly is taking place in your mind. However, you are the one who is living with the mental illness and you will know more than any mental health professional, how it is affecting you and how your recovery is going.

Even though the internet may have some valuable information on mental health, our Creator knows more about our bodies than anyone else. He is the Master psychologist. He knows the ins and outs of our minds and nothing is impossible for Him. When we have doubts that God can heal us, remember these texts:

  • “O LORD, you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar” (Psalm 139:1–2).
  • But I will restore you to health and heal your wounds,’ declares the LORD” (Jeremiah 30:17).
  • And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19).
  • “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us,” (Ephesians 3:20).

Sometimes we want quick results, however I believe that there is beauty in waiting on the Lord. He will show us the bigger picture and how we can encourage others on our journey to restoration.

Once we stop trying to have our own way and let God’s will be done, we will see Him do mighty things in our lives.

Conclusion 

If you haven’t taken anything else away from this article, I hope that you realise the importance of taking the positives out of a situation that may seem negative. When life gives you lemons, make lemonade! Likewise, when you are aware of your mental illness, use it as an opportunity to educate yourself and others, empower others to take care of their mental health, and see God work, knowing that you too can finish the race and say that you have kept the faith.

Stay blessed x

Life update: Life in isolation

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How has isolation been so far? Sobering.

It is extremely humbling to think that “life is a flash of lightning in the dark of night. It is a brief time of tremendous potential (B. Alan Wallace)”.

This period of isolation has shown me a few things:

  1. First of all, life is too short. Time feels like it is going quicker than it was when I was younger.

I believe this is so because Jesus is coming very soon. In Matthew 24, Jesus talks about the end time and says that there will be wars, famines, earthquakes and diseases, etc. Jesus says that these are the beginning of birth pains. From that, we can infer that the time between the different events will become shorter and shorter.

Jesus doesn’t stop there, He says that for the sake of His chosen people, the days of hardship will be shortened (Matthew 24:22). This means that time will become shorter so that people don’t have to experience so much pain.

2. The second thought I had was: people are dying, people are ill, and there is little I can do about it. This is something that hit home when I heard about escalating deaths due to covid-19, in my country and around the world. It was something that was out of my control and I realised that I don’t always have the answers. 

Although I came to the conclusion that there was little I could do about the situation, I realised there were ways that I could help others and encourage them. One of these ways was through calling and contacting friends and family to make sure that they are safe and well.

Some people may think that isn’t a big deal but others are seriously struggling of loneliness during this period of isolation. For example, a friend of mine was feeling extremely low and needed someone to talk to so I spoke to her and suggested that she contacts the mental health team.

Another way you can encourage others is through sharing positive things with others and encouraging them to realise what they are thankful for. Paul recommends in Philippians 4:8 – And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.

It’s easy to get caught up in the negative when you hear people falling ill at an alarming rate and witness people dying from a horrible virus, but it’s possible to have some peace and joy when you realise that God will see you through the hard times and you shift your focus to the positive things that are in your life.

This can be your health, your family, having a sound mind which helps you make  decisions, having knowledge, integrity, being able to forgive, perseverance, and many other qualities that all come from God.

pexels-photo-39522313. I had an experience which got me to question my faith that things would get better. To cut the long story short, I had an auditory hallucination that was talking about this coronavirus situation and saying it was a sign that Jesus is coming and I won’t be able to meet Him.

It made me realise that covid wasn’t just affecting others, it was also affecting me. I had the power to chose how I was going to react to the situation. My option was to either panic and believe that I won’t survive this period or I could claim God’s promises and believe that He is with me and my life is in His hands.

Although I was struggling with anxiety, this time brought me to want to seek God more and overcome my fear of not being able to make it.

I had to remind myself, I may be isolated from the world but I am not isolated from God.

I start my day with God by praying and studying the Bible, I try to keep a song in my heart by listening to uplifting gospel songs. Additionally, I spend time doing things I enjoy such as workouts, playing instruments, writing, etc. By keeping my mind occupied with things that are meaningful to me, I am able to feel more hopeful that even if I lost my life during this period, I would have spent my time wisely and when Jesus comes, I will be able to see Him and spend eternity with Him.

My question for you is, “What has isolation taught you?”

 

 

Mental illness and Resilience

Does my mental illness make me a weaker or stronger person?

This is a question I’ve asked myself without realising. If you have ever been in a tough situation, you may have asked yourself the same question.

A study by researchers at New York’s University of Buffalo, showed that people with “chronic back pain who had some problems in their past, were less functionally impaired compared to those with a great deal of past trauma, or no trauma’s at all.”

When I read those findings, I thought to myself, it isn’t that comforting for people who have or will experience a great deal of trauma. However, I would argue that it isn’t about the severity of your hardships, rather, how resilient you are.

Resilience is defined as the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties. Resilience isn’t something you either have or you don’t, it is something that we can take steps towards achieving.

Many people feel like they are no longer strong when they have a mental illness. However, I’m here to tell you that your situation doesn’t determine your resilience. You have the power to build on your resilience at any point.

In this article, I will discuss 3 misconceptions about some aspects of resilience.

  1. You are weak when you depend on others. 

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The truth is, building your support network can make you more resilient. Sometimes just telling the people close to you how you’re feeling can make a big difference. They might be able to help you out in other ways too.

I speak to my parents when I am experiencing any symptoms of my mental illness and they generally give me good advice.

Your loved ones may encourage you to seek professional support such as speaking to your GP. GP’s can check your health and help you access treatments.

Support at work, such as your line manager, human resources (HR) department and occupational health can also be helpful. Try not to worry that talking to your manager or colleagues about mental illness will be seen as a sign of weakness – your wellbeing is important and responsible employers will take it seriously.

Last but certainly not least, look to God for support. This involves coming to Him in prayer, telling Him all your problems and listening to what He wants to tell you through His word. In Phillipians 4:13, Paul says, “I can do all this through Him who gives me strength.” This shows that the strength comes from God who is able to support you and make you whole.

2. Self-care and selfishness are synonymous.

running-runner-long-distance-fitness-40751Self-care can be extremely vital in building resilience. Promoting positive lifestyle factors like proper nutrition, ample sleep, hydration and regular exercise can strengthen your body to adapt to stress and reduce the toll of emotions like anxiety or depression.

  • Proper nutrition.  When you’re stressed, it can be tempting to skip meals or eat too much of the wrong kinds of food. But what you eat, and when you eat, can make a big difference to how well you feel. For example, when I eat late, I have found that I am more prone to getting nightmares.
  • Ample sleep. Stress can often make it difficult to sleep, and can cause sleep problems. Getting enough sleep can help you feel more able to deal with difficult situations.
  • Hydration. Drinking water helps regulate your body temperature, aids in digestion, and rids the body of toxins. Staying hydrated also helps lower stress, keeps your weight in check, and allows your muscles and organs, including your heart, to work properly.
  • Regular exercise. Being physically active is important for both our physical and mental health. Even making small changes such as going for a regular walk outside may help you to feel less stressed.

3. Setting goals doesn’t work; life is too unpredictable.

Seven-reasons-why-goal-setting-is-critical-to-success-4Yes, life is very unpredictable. Sometimes, you have to take detours. By having a clear, long-term goal, with specific plans to achieve it, you can keep your focus on the final destination. Take the detour, but keep your eye on the end goal.

I like to set myself SMART goals and review wether I have met the goals at the end of the month. You may want to make goals that you review on a weekly basis. The most important thing is that you review how things are going and it helps you get into the habit of actively working towards your goals.

It is important to remember that although we may have our own plans, it is really God’s will that should be top priority. So if a goal that I have isn’t in line with God’s will, then I should revise that goals and pray that God will show me what path to take. The wise King Solomon expressed this in Proverbs 16:9 “In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.”

Conclusion

I hope you find this blog helpful and realise that you have the choice to take steps towards being more resilient or being overwhelmed by your problems.

The text I will leave with you is Joshua 1:9 – This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.

Wherever means through the bad times and good times. God is saying He will be there in every situation so know that you are not alone. You are strong because God is with you.

 

Faith not Fear

jesusLately I have been feeling fearful. Fearful for the future. I’ve felt like everything that I believe and hold dear could all be fake. I don’t know how to explain it but it was such a strong feeling that consumed me and I didn’t know how to get out of it.

I’m not yet completely out of it but I thought I’ll write this because there might be someone else feeling the same way.

Jesus says in John 14:27 – “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”

This promise that Jesus will give us peace is completely true. I know because I’ve felt it in the past. I may not be feeling it at this very moment but I know that I’ve felt it before. This peace is the one that transcends all understanding. People will marvel at how you are calm in the storm but you are because Jesus is with you in the midst of the storm.

I would like to suggest, the reason we get overwhelmed with our struggles is because we forget who is with us.

When the disciples were in the boat before Jesus calmed the storm (Matthew 8:23–27, Mark 4:35–41, and Luke 8:22–25), they were panicking. While they were afraid, what was Jesus doing? Sleeping.

Sometimes it feels like all God is doing in the midst of our troubles is sleeping. It’s as if He’s turned His face from us and has let us perish whilst He is unaware what is going on.

Whilst that may be what it seems like, the truth is that “Behold, He who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep” (Psalm 121:4).

Jesus, the Word who was with God and is God (John 1:1) is never unaware of our situation because “He is always with us, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:10).

Back to the story, the disciples were so scared and called Jesus, panicking that they were going to perish. The truth is some of us don’t even go straight to Jesus when we have problems. We go to our therapist or family member or close friend, thinking that they can help us. The only person who can undo the damage is Jesus.

You may think that the damage is the storm but I also want to suggest that the problem wasn’t necessarily the storm. It was how the disciples reacted to the storm.

See, as the story goes on, Jesus rebuked the wind and the waves and told them to “Be still”. And the wind and the waves listened.

Then Jesus didn’t tell the disciples, “look the storm is finally over!”. He asked them “Why are you so fearful? Is it that you have no faith?”

His problem wasn’t with the wind, because all the wind knew was to destroy but rather with the people who knew Him and should have had faith that God will deliver them from the storm. After all they were with Jesus.

Sometimes that’s the problem with our situations. We look at the storm or the giant in front of us with fear, thinking that we are too small and feeble to fight against it. But Jesus is trying to remind us that we are not alone. He is there with us and He has given us the power and the authority to “trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt us.” (Luke 10:19)

So I hope this hasn’t discouraged you or made you feel upset, but rather that it makes you realise that “you are more than a conqueror through Him who loves us” (Romans 8:37) and your storm doesn’t have to take your peace and faith, but rather it can build your faith because it teaches you to exercise your faith in God.

Testimony Thursday #2

Hello everyone,

It’s been a while since I have written on the blog.

I’m so thankful about what God did this week and it reminded me that I am not alone. The angel of the Lord encamps around them that fear the Lord and delivers them (Psalm 34:7).

I was woken up by a scary nightmare and I didn’t know what to do. I was quite disorientated and it took me a while to realise that it was only a dream.

Once I got back to normal, something impressed me to go on my phone and go onto the Bible Promises App, something that I never usually do. So I went onto the app and the first bible text that came up was John 16:33 which says, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

At this point, I was so amazed and shocked. The text wasn’t saying that I wont have trouble, but it was assuring me that I will have trouble. And I love the next word that come after which says “But”. It means that’s not the end of the story. There’s more to it than just trouble.

Jesus goes onto say “But take heart! I have overcome the world.” That part left me speechless. There was a mixture of thoughts going on in my mind. One of them was that “could God be telling me that I will overcome not just my nightmares, but this world of sin?” This was bigger and better than anything that I could ever imagine. And it didn’t stop there.

I went on to read the bible promise before John 16:33 and it said “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.” (Psalm 91:1)

I knew that this was no coincidence that I read that text and the specific version that uses the word “rest”. I felt so privileged that God knew what I was going through and was merciful enough to do whatever it takes to get my attention and remind me that I can rest in Him and He is my strength and shelter.

Those two texts meant so much to me and they reinforced in my mind that God is an ever present help in the times of trouble (Psalm 46:1).

I thought I’d share my testimony with you to encourage you if you’re going through a hard time, it may not be nightmares. It may be something completely different.

But you are definitely not alone because God is on your side. Although you walk through the valley of the shadow of death, you should fear no evil because God is with you, His rod and staff, they comfort you (Psalm 23:4).

God bless x

Testimony Thursday

Hi guys,

I thought I’d share with you a testimony that I have from yesterday.

I was feeling extremely low and I didn’t know why or how I got myself into the situation.

I didn’t know if it was to do with the nightmares or voices I was hearing. It also could have been due to the events that took place throughout the day. All I knew was that I was feeling depressed.

When I got back from home, I ate and decided to go on my phone to YouTube to look for a video to lift up my spirits. I had the idea of watching a secular video that was quite shallow but at least it would improve my mood… but for how long?

I went onto YouTube and the first thing i saw was a video with the title “How to fight the spirit of sadness”.

When I saw this, I thought “Could it be? Is this the answer to my hearts desire?” Because deep down, I knew I was searching for happiness, for contentment.

So I put on the video and it exceeded my expectations.

In the video, Samona Watts was discussing the topic of sadness and she mentioned how it’s a spirit. She said that the enemy studies us and knows after we go through certain circumstances, then he decides to attack us with spirit of sadness, doom and gloom.

One thing that stood out to me is that she said her husband had a wound on his leg and when she saw it, she told him that she wished his wound wasn’t so big. Then he told her that he’s glad that he still has a leg. So it made me think that I shouldn’t look at the glass as half empty but I should at it as half full.

She also gave 3 practical tips on how to fight the spirit of sadness. The first one is the principle “what you look for, you will find”. If you look for sadness then you will only find things to be sad about but if you look for happiness then you’ll find it.

I can relate to this because sometimes it feels like all I can think of is things to be upset about. It’s as if I’m searching for the smallest reason to be sad and I chose to magnify the problem. This is called a mental filter and it is one of the unhealthy thinking habits that we discussed in one of the previous blogs.

In the blog we said that we could overcome this negative thought pattern by thinking of things that are positive (Philippians 4:8).

Another tip was to get a reality check. She advised us to write down the reasons you are unhappy and then write down all the things to be grateful for. I conducted this exercise and after I did it, I felt so refreshed and like I was looking at things from a different perspective.

If you’d like to find out the last tip, then I encourage you to watch the video yourself as I think it will be best if you watch it and take in as much as possible and I’m sure it will be a big blessing to you as it was to me.

https://youtu.be/NtoYFZoXxwk

Life update: nightmares and voices

Hi all,

I thought I’d give a quick update on what’s been going on with regards to my mental health.

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So far I’ve been doing well. My medication was reduced last week and I’ve been on iron tablets for my iron deficiency.

Ever since my medication decreased, I’ve been having nightmares nearly everyday. I don’t know whether it is related to the medication decrease or related to something else.

The nightmares have been quite alarming. They tend to have people that I’m familiar with in the dreams and the people are either trying to kill me. Or in one instance, the person was controlling me as if I was a robot. You maybe reading this and thinking that surely I don’t believe that the dreams are real so it shouldn’t be a problem, but when you suffer from psychosis, it easier to believe in things that aren’t real since one of the symptoms is to experience delusions.

I thank God because I am able to distinguish between the dreams and reality when I wake up in the morning but sometimes I’m not able to distinguish between the true and false in the middle of the night.

Other than that, I hadn’t been hearing voices until today. I woke up at 8:30 am then I decided to go back to sleep because I slept late. When I went back to sleep, I started hearing a voice that was impersonating my dad, and it was doing a good job. The voice was having a conversation with me and basically knocking down my confidence.

It was saying things along the lines of me not being able to do things the way I used to because of my disorder. And I was arguing back in my head saying that I am fine. Then the voice would reply with examples of things that prove that I’m not the same as I was before.

I may not know exactly who this voice is but I know that its words come straight from the devil. You may think I’m sounding superstitious but I know I’m not.

This voice never has anything nice to say and it is always tearing me down rather than building me up. It tries to make me depressed and anxious about anything but I won’t give in. I know that the word of God says “do not be anxious about anything,  but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:6-7.

That text means so much to me because it gives me hope that if I submit to God and rely on him, He will give me an unexplainable peace. There is no guarantee in that text that the trials and hardships won’t come your way. In fact Peter says “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.” – 1 Peter 4:12.
So the hardships will come your way but your state of mind will be different once you have submitted to God. So I don’t know whether these voices will go but I can boast in knowing that Christ is on my side and He will give me the peace that surpasses all understanding to guard my heart and mind in Christ Jesus.

If there are any of you going through something similar or know someone going through something similar, I want to encourage you to keep on going and never give up because God doesn’t give you more than you can handle, He helps us handle what we are given.

Thanks for reading and please feel free to comment and share your experiences.

 

Dealing with the stigma of psychosis

BETTER

“You either have it or you don’t”. This is something that I have heard which is simply not true. There is always a spectrum when it pertains towards mental health.

There is defintely a stigma when it comes to mental health and specifically with psychosis. Many people joke about being schizo or psychotic when they don’t actually understand what it’s like to have psychosis.

From a first hand perspective, I’ve had to deal with being looked at like a mad woman and being asked if I have any harmful thoughts towards myself of suicidal thoughts. It didn’t offend me because I knew that people had to be mindful that I could be feeling like that.

However I strongly feel like psychosis is misunderstood and it’s my duty to educate people on what it is.

Here are a few misconceptions about psychosis and here are the actual facts:

First of all, a misconception is that psychosis or schizophrenia means split personality, and there is no way to control it. First of all, schizophrenia and psychosis aren’t necessarily the same thing. Schizophrenia is a type of psychosis. In fact, the estimated 1% of the general population with schizophrenia have symptoms ranging from social withdrawal to hallucinations and delusions.

Another misconception is that children can’t get psychosis. If only this was true but unfortunately the sad reality is that children (under 16) can suffer from psychosis.

The most common age when symptoms of psychosis first begin is 18-24 years old, but can vary dependent on individual circumstances with the majority of cases first occurring between ages 13-30. Males tend to have earlier onset than females by an average of one or two years.

Another major assumption is that you have to be on drugs to suffer from psychosis. I can’t even count the amount of times that I’ve been asked whether I have psychosis because I smoke or drink.

The use of street drugs may trigger psychosis in some individuals who are at risk for developing psychosis. However there is a significant percentage of people who suffer from psychosis who don’t take any drugs or drink alcohol.

Furthermore, many people think that once you have psychosis, there is no turning back. That is incorrect as you can heal from psychosis if it is diagnosed in the early stages. So if you know someone who has psychosis or you have it yourself, know that your case is not hopeless.

The final misconception that really get’s to me is that psychosis can be ‘willed away’ or ‘prayed away’ and if someone uses treatment, they have in some way ‘failed’ or are weak.

A serious mental illness like psychosis cannot simply be willed away. Don’t get me wrong, I am definitely an advocate for the power of prayer and I believe that prayer works. However, I think it is quite narrow minded to believe that God is limited and cannot use other things as well as prayer to help you in every situation.

For example, if you had a flu, you have the option of praying, going to the doctors, or using natural remedies such as lemon and honey. Some may think that you can only use one option at a time however an open-minded person would know that God can work through all those options to heal them. Yes, God can even work through the doctor to heal you.

What would not be wise is to go to the doctor and use the natural remedies but not pray. Prayer is a way of directly communicating with the God who created the doctor and created the natural remedies so not speaking to Him is like believing that you can heal all by yourself without His providence.

So back to the topic of psychosis, it is possible to see a psychiatrist and still be a devout believer in God. It takes courage to seek professional help. Being treated for psychosis does not mean an individual has in some way ‘failed’ or is weak.

There are many more misconceptions about psychosis but I hope that you have understood that it is important to know the facts before you make assumptions based on the name of a disorder or the rumours that you have heard about the disorder.

I hope you found this blarticle (blog/article) helpful and stay tuned for similar posts.