What Recovery Means in Terms of Mental Health

Hey y’all! Since I’m on spring break and currently visiting one of my friends at college, I have waaay too much time on my hands, so here I am, back again!  What’s good about this break is, I get to relax before getting back in the rhythm of school, next week.

Nah, but in all seriousness, I’m ready to start refreshed and anew.

So tonight’s blog post is going to be about what recovery means in terms of mental health.

So… Mental health, as we know it, is nothing to fuck around with. I mean, think about it, if we aren’t mentally okay, then how are we able to focus on the task at hand? We all cope with our mental health and unwind on our days off-from school, work, or both- in different ways.

Some people go shopping…

Some workout…

Some even just sit at home, heat up some tea and read.

Whatever you do to unwind, you get the picture. The thing is though, not a lot of people pay attention to their mental health or stress levels. In fact, it is something that people need to do, but many feel like they don’t have time to do so.

At least that’s how I saw it before I got depressed.

Not too long ago, I remember talking to someone about my mental health and how I dealt with it. I kept it brief, because: a) I do not remember everything when I was struggling with my depression and b) it’s too much to even talk about, it’d probably take a whole day to talk about it (but even then, I’d unknowingly leave out some important details). Regardless, this person noticed that I kept reiterating the lighter side of my depression, when I was in recovery.

“Karen, you keep saying ‘recovery’. What does that mean?” They ask.

I get it. It’s a questionable thing because mental health illnesses like depression and anxiety, can come back at any point in your life. It’s all in how you deal with it, that makes all the difference. I think this question speaks for anyone who is wondering what “recovery from depression and other mental health illnesses” actually means if it is something bound to come back.

Recovery in terms of mental health, means that you have been able to deal with your illness without the help of medications and instead, with a knowledge of coping skills (fancy word for ways of dealing/coping with depression and anxiety or other mental illnesses).

Coping skills are, but not limited to:

  • Deep-Breathing Exercises
  • Mindfulness
  • Meditation
  • Making To-Do Lists
  • Writing
  • Working Out
  • Grounding Yourself
  • Reading Self-Help books
  • Petting your dog/cat
  • Visualization

You can make anything (that is good for you, of course) a coping skill. Like I said before, it’s all in how you choose to deal.

You learn these coping skills, as you take medication or as you see a trusted therapist.

For me, when my depression hit, I was on medication for it. I had mild to moderate depression. Regardless of the severity in my depression, I believe it needed be treated and needed to be looked at as a serious problem. End of story.

The positive thing about my recovery, was that once I ran out of Paxil, I didn’t need to continue taking it. Medication goes a long way, but it can also become a crutch. That crutch can be a good thing and a bad thing, but if you feel like you’re doing so much better mentally, then ask your doctor if you can ween off of your medication. By ween off, I mean lowering your dosage of your anti-depressants or anti-psychotics under the supervision of a Doctor/Psychiatrist. The way I see it is, you don’t really want to be on crutches for the rest of your life, if you know that you are doing a lot better. You want to recover (there’s that word again) and possibly go back to a life where you didn’t have to worry about taking medication. This also means that you apply the coping skills in place of it.

The subject of medication and whether or not people with mental illness need it, is kind of a double ended sword and I don’t want to come off as anti-medication, because I don’t know what each person’s needs are. I’m writing this as an informative post and if you have something to add, please feel free to leave a comment below!

There are some people who need to take their medications, because if they don’t, they break out in hives or get weird bodily sensations that don’t help them focus on the task at hand and that is when medication is necessary. That is completely within their needs. Everyone has a different brain chemistry.

The thing about many of these medications, is they alter your brain chemistry. For example, when I was on Paxil, it gave me more of an appetite. With a significant increase in appetite, came my sleeping patterns. Essentially, the more I ate, the more I was able to sleep well.

Even though I gained 45 pounds, Paxil did its job as my anti-depressant and with the help of my family and medical professionals, I was able to recover from my depression. Because of this, I am forever grateful. Recovery ain’t pretty, but it’s well-worth the effort.

A good bit of recovery consists of 3 things:

  1. Having a good support system (friends, family, doctors, significant other, etc)
  2. How well the medications are and If they are doing their job (If they aren’t, then talk to your doctor about it)
  3. If you’re doing your part in remembering and working on your coping skills (making the effort in talking to a trusted therapist).

If you’ve hit a crossroads in your recovery, then try re-evaluating what is missing in your recovery. Do you need to start looking for new friends? Do you need another kind of medication? Do you need to see someone different? Speak up about it and make it known, because the sooner you know, the better off you’ll be when dealing with your mental health illness.

Make it a priority to check in on how you are doing and what you’re doing to cope. Life comes with all these crazy twists and turns, it’s up to us to decide whether or not we want to continue going with the fast paced lifestyle or to take a break.

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What Happens When We Act on Our Expectations?

Awhile back, I had watched an interesting TED talk by Psychologist Dr. Jennice Vilhauer about how we don’t really act on what we want, but rather on our own expectations of things. It’s a subconscious thing. We’ve probably heard the saying “Thoughts become things” at some point, right? Well basically if we think about an event coming up, like a date, a party, a festival, etc, If we keep thinking about how everything is going to be great, then chances are, it will go right, because you already made it clear that this is going to be your moment or your time to shine. Sometimes, however, we have terrible feelings about how the event will go that it becomes a subconscious thing where you’ll do or say certain things that really enhance the negative feeling.

So say you play the lottery, you’re just trying your luck, and you find out later on that day that you won. What do you do? Was this what you expected would happen? No, of course not. You weren’t expecting to win, you were just playing for shits. In this example, our expectations of certain things don’t really align with what we want.

Then again, when we think something isn’t going to go well, it can sometimes end up going better than expected and vice versa.

What I’m trying to say is that this concept can be applied in just about everything from relationships to events/experiences. Vilhauer goes on to say that she had a client who was gorgeous and accomplished and decided to give online dating a try. Once the client received matches and started going out on dates, the guys that she went out with either weren’t who they looked like in their profile photo, forgot their wallets, or just wouldn’t show up at all whatsoever. Through all these dates, the client began to settle with the terrible dates. They became her expectations.

At one point, she had agreed to go out on a date with this one guy after her yoga class. She, thinking that the date wouldn’t go well, arrived at this cafe to meet up with this guy. The guy was a well-groomed, all-around great guy and the client basically didn’t know how to act. Because she had gotten so used to such terrible dates, she never once thought that she might actually land a pretty decent guy. So the whole time, she stared at the ground and felt really self-conscious. At some point during the date,  she told the guy that she needed to put more coins in the meter and just left the date.

The bottom line was: he was great, but given the fact that she had no idea how to act in a situation like this, it was something new and out of the ordinary for her. I mean, think about it: put yourself in her shoes, shes gorgeous but over time she realized that she wasn’t worth those second dates or a decent man who wouldn’t forget his wallet. Imagine how that must feel. Pretty shitty, right?

Vilhauer then poses a scenario to the audience like:

Say you’re going on vacation to a tropical island.

She then asks something along the lines of: How is what I am expecting, making me feel?

This question not only brings into mind the idea of the future, but it also brings to mind how you feel about a specific thing in the future. This gives you a chance to be in tune with your mind and body.

If you’re like me and are down for a new adventure to a tropical island, then there’s nothing to do. If you’re having positive thoughts and feelings about the whole thing, then you’ve already achieved the goal.

If you’re anxious for this trip, then she follows up with another question: What would I like to have happen instead?

Here, you address to alternatives that go with what you’re comfortable with. What you really do want in the situation. What you want isn’t really what you expect. She then goes back to the example of winning the lottery : you want to win, but you don’t expect to win

She then asks: What do I need to do to make what I want happen?

She says that when we have a negative expectation, we think about all the things that would go wrong. Your aren’t really generating any thoughts and/or ideas about this experience going right.  You begin to see a shift in your thinking once you generate some positive thoughts. In other words, what can go right?

Vilhauer had a client who was depressed and they had been doing a ton of work together, to help this person gain some coping skills and be better equipped with what life throws at them, but nothing really seemed to be working. So Vilhauer posed the question, “Where is the light at the end of the tunnel?” The client looked at her with a puzzled expression. When you’ve been depressed for a while, you don’t really think about the future, you just see everything as a big black hole. It’s like time goes by, but you feel like you still hang in the middle of it, not going forward or backwards, but staying there. So Vilhauer began to pose a variation of this question to many more of her clients, she recalled that she received the same response. Five years later, this is where she began to pioneer a new approach to counseling, called Future Directed Therapy (FDT).

I find this stuff amazing that psychologists like Dr. Vilhauer are changing the way they approach a patient’s unique illness or issue in life. The more we have this, the more we will have psychologists and mental health professionals provide a more interpersonal approach to each patient they treat, which is absolutely fascinating! You focus on what you want, keeping in mind that your expectations should align with your wants.

Check out the video!

Fear of The Future

Happy December, everyone! I’ve been so busy this past week, which was why I had LITERALLY no time at all to keep you guys updated on the next big thing! So I apologize, but I’m here now, so let’s talk!

Lately I’ve been doing things that plays roles in planning ahead. I’ve signed up for courses in Spring 2018, continued on my process of applying to colleges, applying for scholarships, among other things.

In the midst of all of this, however, I sense a familiar wave of emotion that kind of washes over me. Fear, if you will, of the future. The same fear that just paralyzed me and played an integral role in my depression the first time around. That same fear of the future, which made me realize that I would be going from a place where I knew where everything was and who my friends were, to a place where I didn’t know any of that and therefore, I would have to learn to do that all over again.

Learning new things and doing something different doesn’t always have to be a bad thing. It could be a positive experience for you. You’ll never know until you make that first step. I used to accept change with such grace, but what part of my anxiety and depression has affected was how I perceived change.

Now, big changes affect me, but that’s normal, right? People are affected in one way or another to big changes, like moving to a new city and going to school. For me, if I want change to happen in my life, I need it to be small and gradual. Of course, in this fast paced world we live in, nothing ever comes small or gradual, it comes at us the size of a train going 150 mph.

But I’ve learned that we cannot be afraid of that change. We must accept it and learn to face this fear, embrace it, and live our lives. The future is in another dimension, it’s something that we prepare for. Why should we be fearful of it? We spend years preparing for a job that we want, we take all the courses necessary to be able to do all things in an appropriate and ethical manner, we prepare ourselves for the degree we want.

As I’ve said before, it is normal to be afraid of the future, because that fear is the same fear that helps us and motivates us. This fear is the one where you actually care about being successful in the future. Paralyzing fear, however, has been known to be detrimental for you. You care too much and you literally cant sleep because, on top of caring too much, you are also thinking about it too much. Instead of working for us, it works against us and we work for it, fueling any insecurities we may have about ourselves. In reality, you don’t have to overthink your future successes, no one is telling you to detail every aspect of your future. Only you are ingraining that into your mind. I mean, think about it, if we were to narrow everything down in our future down to a T, where does that leave the present? Where are you now? What’s even more, is if all of us think too profoundly into the future, imagine how high our stakes are.

Imagine having only one aspiration that leads you to a house, family, etc., what are the odds that it might change? We shouldn’t have to hold one general idea or one general goal and expect that same goal to be the same. For example, for many years, I’ve always wanted to be a doctor or something along the lines of the field of medicine. I would watch all these medical shows and be fascinated at the knowledge of doctors in their fields. But then in my Junior year of high school, I wanted to be a Physical Therapist, I had my plan figured out, I would major in bio then apply for a seat in the Physical Therapy program at the college that I would go to. By the time I got to my senior year of high school, I wanted to become a Physician Assistant(PA), so I toured schools looking for a perfect fit in their Pre-PA majors. I didn’t really find it. So that’s when I resorted to Nursing. When I applied to a school for Nursing, I got my acceptance letter, buuut… I wasn’t exactly in the Nursing program, I was Undeclared-Nursing, which meant that I would be taking a course that was required of all first-year nursing majors and I’d have to work my way up into the Nursing program. I ended up switching my major the second semester of that same year. The reason why I took too long in realizing that working in the medical field just wasn’t for me, was because I was still stuck in that mindset of holding one general idea about myself and my future. When I realized this, I thought to myself, “what would my life be like if I wasn’t a nurse?” “What other job is out there?”.

Fast forward to now, I am happy to see how far I have come and how this experience has led me to where I am. I’m a Communications major with a focus in Marketing and I am looking to get my MBA in Marketing, as well. My dream is to work in Digital Marketing and hopefully contribute to the overall growth of sales and provide ideas for more traffic on certain sites.

The fact of the matter is this: You can plan for your future all you want, you are entitled to how you feel about it, too, but always be open to what life throws at you. Don’t ever feel like you have one set choice. In this life, we have an unlimited amount of choices and it’s up to us to find one that suits our goals. All of this is meant to give you perspective in this life, mapping out your future is a good way to start gaining some perspective, but don’t go overboard. Enjoy your present and be open to your future.




Where Being Honest and Authentic Get You In Your Professional Life

Hello everyone! I hope you are all enjoying the fall weather and all its festivities! What are some of your favorite fall festivities? I personally like pumpkin picking, hay rides and apple picking! So piggybacking off of a more recent blog post called “The One Sign Telling You To Let Go and Move On,” (If you haven’t read it, I’ll put the link at the end of this post, so that you all can read it and get a feel for what I am getting at in this post) I’m going to talk more about the importance of authenticity and being honest with yourself in today’s modern world

Being authentic is an integral part of professional life. I mean people want to work with someone who is real (am I wrong?). Someone who really knows what’s going on, especially in terms of what your career is. Okay! So think of this scenario, imagine you’re the boss of this awesome business and you are looking for people who share the same passion you have, are willing to create more, and contribute to the ideas you have for this business. Now that you have an idea of who you want on your team, you are not settling for anything less than that ( and if you are, then you should probably get you priorities straight and get focused). You are not going to bring along someone who ACTS like they care about the job and the business you are trying to promote, nor are you going to bring along someone who is just in it for the “yearly bonus” or salary. You made it explicitly clear that you want focused, driven, passionate individuals. When you’re driven to do something, money doesn’t matter and the right job will definitely bring your best self to the table. Your dream job should be everything that you look for in a job and more, it should go in accordance with your dreams and your overall drive in life.

A job isn’t a one size fits all type of thing, it’s either you like the job you’re doing or you don’t. It’s quite simple, I really don’t understand why people stick around at a job that constantly stresses them out and does nothing but bring in negative energy. That negative energy is dangerous and all of you have heard me say it before so I’ll say this again and louder for those in the back, when you bring in negative energies into your life, you are opening yourself up to a lot of stress and many illnesses associated with it, including mental health illnesses. So don’t quit the job just because you don’t like it, quit the job because you see that it doesn’t do you any good sticking around something that really drains you.

A while back, I had gotten this book as a gift from my parents. The book is called The 11 Laws of Likability: Relationship Networking . . . Because People Do Business with People They Like by Michelle Tillis Lederman. In this book, Michelle talks about these 11 laws of likability and how she was able to apply these laws in not just her professional life, but in her personal life, as well. She goes in to detail and talks about how when she was teaching this Business course, student made her realize that we, as human beings, have a strong desire of being liked by other people. Whether we like to admit it or not, we really do care about being well liked by our superiors at work or by our very own professors in college. Michelle also teaches you how to network with potential employers and with being able to relate to different kinds of people in your everyday life.  Now, this book doesn’t help you get people to like you. It’s more about getting people to like you AND doing so, by just being yourself. This book has done an amazing job in terms of helping me find who I am and how I can uncover my authentic self. Regardless of your career, I definitely recommend this book to anyone who is willing to embark on a journey of self discovery into finding out your most authentic self. I hope this book gets you to where you need to be in your academic, professional, personal life and more!

Like I’ve said before, I have no tolerance and no time for fake people, Why should I even be around people who don’t value me or see me the way I see my most authentic self? Through that book and many other resources in my life, I have been able to walk away from people and things that just drain me, fill me up with doubt, and make me feel less like myself. Honestly, if I had stayed around at the retail job that I used to work at, I think I’d become a more different person than who I am now. I wouldn’t be following my heart or what I wanted, I would be following the way of a lot of people who just don’t like their jobs and are only in the job because the pay is decent. Why should you even settle for something that’s just ‘decent’? When you have the ability to go further.

Now, I’m the kind of person where I’d rather be out here looking for my authentic self.  In my journey of self-discovery, I realize that friends-who actually value me- to be with will eventually come at some point. Either way, as long as I know that I am living my best AND authentic life, I know that everything else (i.e friends, new career, etc) will fall into place. Thankfully, I can say that I have found those friends who definitely value me and see me as an authentic individual.

Instead of being stuck at a job that you hate, why not just branch out and go back to school? Now, in today’s world, there are many more resources that can help you become more qualified for the job that you want. All you have to do is look. I see a lot of older people who didn’t have the opportunity to do that, and now they’re following their dreams.  They’re just becoming their most authentic self.

In order for your life to come together, you have to figure out who you are, what you stand for, and most of all how you value yourself. Surround yourself with people who share similar values and who challenge you everyday to be a better person, an authentic person. 

Here’s the link to my other post!

The One Sign Telling You To Let Go and Move On

Here is Michelle’s book on amazon!


My Definition of Success

All throughout my life I have seen success in so many ways. Whether it be in a small milestone, or in a team that finally achieved their goals in winning a game, or even seeing someone you love finally get that degree they have worked so hard to earn. I have seen it all. My family has always told me the importance of success, especially my dad. Throughout my life, I’ve realized that achieving success isn’t always easy but that in the end, it would be worth it. I aspire to get my associates in communication, continue my studies in communication with a focus in public relations to obtain my bachelor’s and ultimately my masters of fine arts in visual arts. I aspire to become a creative director of a magazine or a movie. For that, I realize that I’d have to work my way up and make connections along the way. Remember: success also means that you need to network along the way, it’s all about making yourself well known.

 I know that with God, the success He will give me will be well worth it The bible talks about success in the book of phillippians. In Phillippians 4:13, it reads ” I can do all things through which God will strengthen me”. That’s powerful. We can do all things we are capable of doing through God! Praise Him! I ask that god may grant us the serenity to accept the things we cannot change, the courage to change the things we can, and the wisdom to know the difference. Amen.

God bless you all on this somewhat muggy, yet beautiful day!