Leader

I’ve been at my current job as a nurse educator, for six months now.

My boss recently asked me…”is this job what you expected?”

My answer was NO. It’s so much more, in a kind of good kind of not so good kind of way.  I’ll explain.

Career wise, I’ve hit the jackpot, but when it comes to balance and my mental health, I’m struggling.

I told my therapist a few weeks ago that depression has robbed me of my creativity and ability to act ‘fast’, or think fast (depression does make life slow down, according to research and my psychiatrist).

So, I have struggled these pass six months to perform at my absolute best, while battling the woes of depression and anxiety; anxiety from the lack of creativity and slowness plaguing my life right now.

Am I qualified for this job? Can I perform and put on that mask that’s needed to appear as though my life, thinking isn’t slow, and to show the world that I am a creative person? All of these things have wondered in my mind.

I was afraid, in the beginning of starting this job, that involves teaching nurses, that I wasn’t able to put the mask on as well as I have been in the past; I was getting bad criticism from my colleagues, saying that my presentations were monotone and lifeless…I was afraid of that ( I was struggling with my depression, my mood during that time).

Well, that feedback continued to happen for another month, until I finally was able to fix my mask on another way- I had to do better and not let depression rob me of such a great opportunity.

So, how did I conquer my mood and perform on my job? I’m not gonna lie, it was difficult, but the key to donning on a strong mask, was to deny myself, my feelings, and be the best actor who put on the greatest show- it worked; smiling more, even when extremely forced, worked and the bad feedback stopped.

Just because the bad feedback stopped, didn’t stop my anxiety from acting up from the sheer fear of bad criticism from my colleagues; and this fear I battle every time I get ready to present or go to a meeting where I have to lead it and be able to think fast, or create new plans to better nursing and my profession; it’s hard.

But, I continue to truck on, though it’s hard to get up sometimes knowing that those I work with our expecting a strong leader rather than a mentally weak individual; I know I’m not alone.

I know there are other business women and men, like me, who are mentally struggling professionals.  But it’s important for us to remember that through all the meetings, expectations from others, and enormous workload, we can’t forget to remember to care for our mental health- a true leader knows how to serve others and most importantly yourself.

 

It’s a small world…

After all.

How small is this world you may ask?

0E421E47-9FA5-414C-BB3C-3E17430AED92 Just look at the over 20 different minds this blog has gathered; that’s right, over 20 (pretty proud of it).

Ya, I’m sure the most posh fashion blog receives over 20,000 viewers, but I’m grateful for those that even think to click on my blog but don’t, because this blog isn’t about me, which may be hard to believe.

This blog is about us, this small, small world we are a part of, but connect and come together through such monumental things like this life; have I mentioned what ‘a mental life’ we are a part of.

Since the events of last week, losing both dear Kate and Anthony, now more than ever do I stress how much of ‘a mental life’ we live.

The only thing separating us from each other is location…really, if you think about it.

I don’t know who those individuals are that stopped by my blog, what they might be thinking in Senegal vs the United Kingdom, but what I do know is that there’s a whole lot of thinking going on, whether their thinking about the stress of their job or the happiness a loved one brings them, their thinking…

And that’s what I want you to keep doing.

Think about what makes you happy.

Think about what motivates you.

Think about what you can do with out.

And just simply allow life to be motivated by your thinking.

Where would we be without a brain? It’s such a powerful tool and that tool needs to be nurtured, even when it’s hurting.

So if you’re hurting, or feel like like help is worlds away from comforting your aching mind, just remember that it’s a small world…

Look to your left, and look to your right, look straight ahead, and look behind you; there’s someone that understands how you feel, because after all, it’s a very small world.

Behind the Glamour

I once wrote a blog about my glamorous Kate spade bag that my husband gifted me with as a push present; I loved that bag, in fact I still do, but do you ever stop to think about the individual behind the design, behind the glamour?

We all know the saying, ‘everything that glitters ain’t gold’, well there is some truth to that.

As we all have heard, Kate Spade, the woman behind the design of my gorgeous, glamorous push present, has passed away.

It May be too soon to speak of her or even write anything with the mentioning of her name,  but I feel that her life as well as countless others who have left us by way of suicide, would all but be a stone passing on the water, a fading ripple in time, if we don’t talk about their tragic end; tragic in the sense that a hurting human being thought it would be better to be a memory.

This is a touchy subject for me, because I too have travelled so dark mentally, with only but one decision standing in the way of life and memories.

No I’m not here to glorify suicidality or condone it in any way, but for those who haven’t experienced what it’s like to feel so helpless, with seemingly no way out, I harken you to try to empathize with those we remember, and those still fighting for dear life.

Before I was bestowed with this challenge in life, depression, I use to think ‘why on earth do people cut themselves…why must they take their lives?’ But I know all to well why these acts occur.

Imagine being thrown out into the ocean in the middle of the night, no help in sight and the only light is in the distance, the moon.  How would you feel? How would you cope knowing that you may be stuck in the middle of that abyss for eternity; the medication hasn’t helped, therapy has been anything but life sustaining, and everyone around you is coping, living their lives.

Do you feel a sense of isolation?

If not let me take you a bit deeper.

Its like you are not only in the ocean with no help in sight, but it constantly thunderstorms and rains, no matter how good life appears for you, no matter how much money you possess, NOTHING brings you happiness.

Do you feel alone now?

Its painful, a kind of mental pain that no amount of cutting can cure, but it’s a distraction from the mind throbbing pain; there’s only so much of these feelings one can take…

Some find a life raft floating in the distance, and some unfortunately slip away under the rip currents, thinking that the pain will stop, but the pain never stops, because tho depression or anxiety or any mental illness makes you feel isolated and alone, you are never alone, and there is always someone left behind to take on that pain.

I had a coworker once say that ‘I think people who commit suicide are so selfish’

That hurt me to the core, because what she didn’t realize was that my mind had went there before, not by choice but by way of the decaying of the mind; suicidal thoughts are a symptom, not a choice.

So, if by now you don’t understand the mind of someone who is in an abyss of hurt, it’s ok…I just hope and pray that your mind never wonders there, because tho a raft of hope may not seem near, there is hope for all, and I am a living proof of hope.

And, for those who we have loss to the fight, let’s not remember them for how their life ended, but let’s concentrate or remember them by fighting to help understand and help those who are helpless, who work 9-5 daily, excercise 5 times a week, and make a decent living, but feel that untouchable pain; let’s help them stay in this life and feel like they are worth more than a mere memory.

Let us fight together for infinity, because we are ALL worthy.

RIP Kate Spade…

Ghost Writer Series: E3: It’s Alright to Fight

Written by Diana Briceno

Depression is a common thing on my mom’s side of the family, but I never really wanted to accept that I was also struggling with it.

My personality has always been the type that keeps things bottled up, because I would feel like such a bother if I explained my situation to someone. The few times I started to slightly open up, I’d be completely misunderstood. People would think I was seeking attention for my sadness, that I would just “get over it”,or that depression is not a real thing. This caused me to feel ashamed and keep everything to myself; by sharing, I felt like I was putting my emotional burden on others.

Eventually, I became so overwhelmed with all the emotions and all my internal struggles that I got to my tipping point. In December 2011 I tried to kill myself, and well obviously (and thankfully) it didn’t work, because I’m still here alive and breathing. That was one of my first eye openers that I needed to live my life. Still, I let my health get out of control and gained 50 pounds. I would put a lot of my focus into work and make myself feel like I didn’t have time to exercise or make healthy meals; the excuses were endless.

Anyway, let’s fast forward to the last couple months of 2015. This is when I decided to start getting off of my medication. I felt so alone in this process, because I had nobody I knew going through a similar journey. I tried to look on Instagram for fitness people who brought up mental health or just anyone really, but I couldn’t find any at that time. This is when I decided that maybe I had to be the one to initiate the conversation, maybe others like me were scared to be judged and were also waiting on someone to relate to.

In January 2016, I began to openly talk about my depression and how eating well and working out has helped me get off my pills and get it under control. I was so surprised to see the amount of support and people sharing their journeys. It’s like all these accounts I couldn’t find before, found their way to me and I felt like there was now a community of people who help could one another.

I cared way too much about what people thought. I also realized that sometimes those who misunderstand depression just needed to be educated about it. I met my husband 5 years ago and he did not understand it at all, which really angered me; but then I realized I had to talk to him about it and try to explain, as best I could, how it was. He is now my biggest supporter and always listens to me. He gave me the push I needed to be unafraid to talk about my good and bad days.

Now there’s so many people that I see online that share their stories and we message back and forth. It feels so good to not feel alone in this because sometimes it can get really dark and we need some help to let us see the light in any situation. I want everyone going through difficult times to know that the hard times will pass. You are not alone and people care about you. People that you might not even know in person care about whether you live or die. I wish everybody could see that and really realize that because it’s true!

You are not a burden and there’s people out there that will listen to you and try to help. Keeping everything inside makes it feel like a slow painful death, don’t do that to yourself. Talk to someone, be it a friend, therapist, teacher, anyone really, because you will feel a weight coming off of your shoulders. Sometimes repeating the nasty thoughts out loud makes you really realize how wrong they are. There’s no need to be ashamed of your moments of weakness, there is strength in discussing them which in turn helps you learn how to overcome them. •

 

Diana Briceno is a stunning boss lady.  Having the opportunity to stumble across her amazing, as well as inspirational Instagram account, was an honor.  Her transparency and disclosure of her unique road to recovery with depression, and current fight against relapse, will make you feel like you are a bit a lone warrior.  I appreciate her bravery for showing those with a mental illness, that it’s possible to LIVE with a mental illness and fight against succumbing to it, with everything you have in you.  All her days may not be perfect, but she keeps it real no matter what, while creating a healthy lifestyle, free of medicine (Shero), and encouraging others about the importance of caring for their mental health; it’s alright to fight!

 

Fruit Aisle Sanctuary

There is a lot of misunderstanding and stigma surrounding mental health and mental illnesses. Anxiety and depression are the most common mental illnesses in Britain (mentalhealth.org.uk) and over 16 million people here in the U.S., have had at least one episode of major depression in the past year (NIMH).  In my attempt to help break this stigma all over the world, get people to comfortably talk about mental health openly, and unite for mental health awareness, I am having real conversations with prominent influencers in today’s society, about the issue at hand.

It was an honor to begin this discussion with Anna Whitehouse, formally known as Mother Pukka in the realm of social media.  As a journalist, editor, wife, and mom, turned entrepreneur, making her love of work and parenting coexist harmoniously, Mother Pukka has graciously and hilariously opens up her world to us, and talking about mental health is no exception.  From self care tips to crying in the fruit aisle of Tesco, Mother Pukka keeps it real about how important it is to care for your mental health.

—-

Dominique: Mother Pukka! I am so honored to have you be apart of my new ‘break the stigma’ initiative: a conversation series. Thank you for taking the time to do this:)

Mother Pukka (MP): Of course! Sorry I’ve been a bit all over the place and not got it over sooner. My organizational skills are a concern on many levels.

Dominique: Taking care of your mental health is so important.  How does Mother Pukka make time for herself with such a busy schedule?

MP: I do two things every day: have an apple and a black filter coffee at 9am and a bath with some kind of posh foam at 10pm. I book-end the day with these small things so there’s some order in the chaos. And it is chaos – I don’t trust myself crossing the road at times. Like, basic stuff.

Dominique: What does that alone time mean to you, and how does it affect your day or days?

MP: Alone time is stuff like this. Writing words to or for people I like – people who have got in touch because there’s a thread of unity somewhere. I can’t explain it but I like meeting people through the pixels. The Internet/ social media doesn’t scare me like it does some; I think it’s a great place to connect (and, perhaps, to cry together through the madness.)

Dominique: There is a lot of misunderstanding and stigma surrounding mental illnesses. What advice would you give parents who are leary of seeking help, because of this stigma?

MP: Just do it. It’s done well for Nike. I’m a believer in stepping into things and working it out afterwards – that includes seeking help. What is there to lose?

Dominique: Can we get really real for a second, Mother Pukka:)?

MP: Sure, go ahead.

Dominique: After giving birth to your beautiful Mae, did you have any experience with the baby blues or postpartum depression? How did you overcome it?

MP: I don’t think I realized it at the time but yes, definitely looking back. There was a point where I was stood in Tesco holding a pineapple with one solitary tear running down my cheek. Yeah, I wasn’t in great shape. But I hauled my ass out of the building and went and did things that brought me together with other people feeling weird in the fruit aisle of Tesco.

Dominique: Mother Pukka, again, thank you so much for taking this time to help spread awareness about how important it is to care for your mental health and breaking the stigma of having a mental illness!

MP: OF course, I’ve loved being in touch. Such a great thing to highlight.

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For more information about Mother Pukka and to keep abreast on how she is tackling parenthood, as well as ‘finding order through the chaos’, visit her website and follow her on Instagram and Facebook!

(photo courtesy of Anna Whitehouse)

*To inquire about how to get involved in the ‘break the stigma’ initiative: a conversation series, please contact me.

Unexpected Therapy: Toddler Perspective

I literally treat my depression like a toddler, and you know what, it works. {onemillennialsguide.com, 8/2/16}

It’s funny how such a seemingly simple statement, can carry so much weight.  As I softly laughed, a school girl chuckle, as I read those words, I immediately felt inclined to reread that sentence a few more times.  Who would have ever thought to relate depression to a toddler?; David Self did, the humorous and highly intellectual brain behind onemillennialsguide.com (a necessary support system and guide to helping make the transition to ‘adulting’, a little less daunting).  I’ve mentioned in a previous blog that I already feel like David and I share a bumble friends type connection, even though Instagram made the connection, but reading about his analogy between depression and toddlerhood, pretty much sealed that deal further.

For as long as I’ve been fighting depression, it seems crazy, but getting into the head space of severe lowness, to the point where you have lost all control and even mindfulness won’t help you, I always seem to feel like that feeling will always be there; permanence.  I’ll never feel like getting out of bed, I’ll never feel like playing with my kids like I use to, going to the movies will be torture forever, etc.; typical uncontrollable negative reaction to your frustration with having to deal with these deathly lows.  But once I come out from the miry clay, and I feel neutral emotionally, to the point where I have a little interest in doing things and more hope then ever, that feeling of permanence, turns to a temporary notion. David’s analogy made me think about when my toddler, Sydney,gets upset.  She throws the most violent tantrum, turning into what feels like a monster, sometimes making sounds that probably have only been heard in mars, and creating cries without a single existence of moisture running from her eyes; toddlers are extremely outward with their emotions, but it lasts all but 20 seconds to at most 45ish seconds, and then they go on with their life like nothing happened.  It’s as if they got sudden amnesia about what took them to an emotional outer space, and the need for time for recovery is immediately suspended by the rustling of cookies in the cookie jar, or the bribe to do something they’ve always wanted to do, but were waiting for the parent to turn their back to do it.

Toddler tantrums are just like depressive episodes; or how they can be, if it works for you.  Really low lows in depression are temporary, but feel permanent when your head is below water; just like a tantrum.  Today I had to remind myself of this notion, feeling that uncontrollable feeling of lowness, suddenly, with feeling like there was no way out; I liken it to how someone with clostrophobia might feel.  If it weren’t for remembering David’s writing about treating depression like a toddler, inviting recent memories of today’s 10-20 second tantrums from my daughter, that brought me comfort thinking about how happy she was when she resumed playing as if nothing happened, I probably would still be in that low place.  The likely hood of me even writing right now would not be a possibilty if it weren’t for a simple statement I read, from such a powerful blog post.

The moral of the story is:  This too shall pass, and if you can find something to hold on to that will remind you of the good times that will come eventually (I know it’s hard), then hopefully those lows will be a little easier to get through.

So David Self, thank you for being my unexpected therapy this week.  Bravo, my bumble friend, bravo.

* Please visit onemillennialsguide.com for more inspirational posts.  You won’t be disappointed.