This is our journey & our normal. #specialneeds #AutismAwareness #MentalHealthAwareness #advocate #mother

If you don’t have time to read this entire post, then just keep scrolling.

If you don’t have a special needs child or a child with a mental health condition, then you have not a clue what it’s like in our world. So don’t speak on something you haven’t no experience with.  And don’t put us inside the general population of general parenting, yea there may be some commonalities but not all the way. We do what we gotta do to help ease our own daily challenges and frustrations and we don’t need you to advise us on what you think works. I don’t care even if you’ve accomplished a degree in child psychology because it still doesn’t and will not ever compare or measure up to the daily challenges that we live with, battle through, and sometimes pull our hair out about throughout the entire day and wake up to the next day and do it allover again.  It’s really NOT as simple or as easy as we make it look.  Behind closed doors alot of us parents, caregivers, have a lot to navigate through.  So after your few minutes of assessing a situation, and your input is to just spank him/her or some other punishment that you think works effectively, well it doesn’t. 

Some of us parents, have it harder than others, some of our children aren’t able to verbalize how their day was while in another person’s care, and they become just as frustrated about things as others would, only their unable to verbalize it to us, so we are left to figure it out based upon other behaviors.  Some of us have children who can verbalize their day, and yet they have behavioral issues that are sometimes unexplainable and outbursts that occur for no apparent reason.  Some of us have children that have destroyed our property because of their aggression and anger but we don’t talk about that.  Some of us have children who appear “normal” by physical appearance but their bullied because of how they sound when they speak.  Some of us have adult children who are still wearing diapers and aren’t toilet trained.  Some of us want to do things just like any other average family, but it’s not possible due to other factors. Some of us can’t work because of the needs of our children, the multiple hospitalizations, ongoing procedures, medication management, feeding therapies, etc. 

Some of us are at a point where we’re fed up with others saying insensitive statements.  Some of us have chosen to become advocates for others.  Some of us are tired of the jerks in this world, but who isn’t.  Some of us just want to be able to have a full nights sleep without our kid getting up at 3am and rewinding their Barney tape.  Some of us just want a day where we can breathe and have some quiet time.  Some of us just want to the freedom to relax and not have to always feel rushed because we feel tense because we know our child is getting ready to have a public meltdown. 

Most of us lack outside, trustworthy, adequate, appropriate supports.  And therefore we don’t want to just put our child into the hands of just any caregiver.  Some of us have to walk on eggshells.  Some of us have to avoid triggers that set our kids off.  Some of us are drained and worn down.  However, we get through it, and we learn as we go.  We make it look like it’s no big deal. 

Another fact, most others don’t know, is this, many of us special needs families don’t have very many close friends, many of us are left without that village to help us raise our children.  Few of us have extended family support and compassion.  Many of us don’t get included or invited to your typical gatherings, so we stick to our own familiarity of “special needs events” so we don’t have to worry about being a “bother” to others, so we don’t have to deal with the stares, or hearing whispers and laughter at us and about us, not with us or together.  Ask yourself this, how often do you see any special needs individual out in public on a day to day?  Like when your at the mall, in the grocery store, or dining out at a restaurant?  To be honest, unless our child is “higher functioning” than you don’t see any of us. 

There are so many different terms and labels and categories that in my own opinion and it’s become white noise to myself.  None bother me anymore.  I’ve heard: “handicap, disabled, delayed, special needs, downs, autistic, non verbal, high functioning, low functioning, and they fall under the spectrum” and that’s just a few.  In anycase, Our normal is “our normal”.  Understand this, years before we even probably had a thought of bringing forth children, we didn’t forsee our future like this.  I don’t think any parent has ever envisioned what it would be like to raise a family with a child that will require extensive round the clock supervision and care well beyond adolescence.  

If we’re all unique, all different, not one of us the same, than who are you to say, our children don’t fit in.

I think if I’m honest most of us special needs parents had visions of having a child who would be considered the “typical” child who is self sufficient on an independent capacity and can work a full time job, play regular sports, and possibly move out and get married one day.  Well the truth is, for some of us, our journey has taken us a different way, and that is no longer our vision.  Because it’s truthfully unrealistic.  All I’m trying to say here is this, don’t be so quick to put your mouth upon what “you’d do if that was your kid”.  And I do know this, I’d like to believe that all of us parents, absolutely wouldn’t change a thing about our child now that they’re here and even with all the challenges. 

We’re doing the very best we can to keep them educated, safe, loved, cared for, nurtured, disciplined, corrected, and encouraged, inspired and respected.  So please the next time you’re out and you see a situation where you might normally be so quick to throw in your 2 cents, instead remember reading this.  And if after all this, you have an attitude of “that’s their problem or I don’t care they still need to….” Or something to that affect, than your just a cold hearted individual who lacks compassion and most of all you lack trying to understand.  All you see is what’s occuring in the moment.

Thanks for those who will respect what I have to say.  And if your a negative Nancy, keep it to yourself and just know this, our truth is our truth, our journey is our journey, our normal is our normal, and our experience is what makes us experts in what we have lived to tell others who are just beginning their journey as a special needs parent and might be feeling confused and hopeless.  There is hope in Jesus and there is support and advocacy out there. 

I’m just one mom who speaks on behalf of some others.  I’m just brave enough to write and share what some still may not have the courage or feel the need to say.  I’m just a mom and this is just a small part of my journey with motherhood and parenting.  Be blessed! -Erika

Stigma, mental illness vs. demons & the church! #MentalHealth #ENDtheSTIGMA #BetheDifference

This is a message from me to the churches across the nations! Regarding Stigma in some churches.

I’m fed up with hearing these sad stories. I take it personal when I learn that others have been hurt by “a church”. It makes “the church” look bad as a body, as a whole. We’ve got to do better! Idc if you don’t agree with me because I’m speaking my truth which is the truth for so many others. But it’s disheartening to hear others stories from people I’ve met while becoming involved with mental health advocacy. And it’s even more disheartening to learn that they’ve been demonized by a church and ran off. All because some church doesn’t understand mental health conditions and the symptoms that fall under them. All because some church wasn’t equipped to handle them with care, compassion & understanding. All because the lack of discernment! The lack of being able to discern the difference between an individual who is battling an illness versus an individual who is actually demon possessed. I’m tired of hearing these stories.

Last month, I met a woman at a speaking engagement, who’s name I won’t mention because she is likely well-known, but she is an ordained minister who her church ran off, because they demonized her, called her out down to the altar and began trying to cast out demons. News flash, it didn’t work, because there wasn’t any demonic influence or demon to be cast out! All it did, was run her off from embarrassment after having been in that church for 30+ years and when she finally gained the courage to seek prayer this is what she experienced! All that oil and all those altar workers who lacked discernment and was attempting to cast out demons, when they should’ve been praying for her healing. In this moment she needed to feel loved and accepted, she needed to feel encouraged that she isn’t alone, she needed to feel embraced by those whom she thought would, she needed to know she was doing the right thing by asking for prayer, she needed to hear an encouraging word, she needed to feel included and not excluded. She needed prayer for healing and restoration from an illness she is battling, just like someone who is battling with cancer or any other life-altering disease! Instead, she was made to feel shamed, misunderstood, isolated, alone, and extremely hurt, and told me this is why she hasn’t been to any church since that time. She still believes in Jesus and she still prays and I know some of you might be saying, if she’s an ordained minister she should be way more mature than that and shouldn’t let people run her off, but I’m respectful enough to know this is her truth and her bad experience so I’m not the one to discredit her or dismiss her hurt and pain.

Some of you have a loved one or a friend or coworker who’s living with a diagnosed mental health condition and have probably been living in silence about it, due to shame and fear of stigma. And even you, yourself are afraid to open up and to talk to someone when your struggling at times. So imagine how she and others feel! Put yourself in her shoes. Or better yet, if you know how she feels then, let’s do better! Let’s be careful with how we minister to people. Let’s take better care of ourselves too.

Come on people, let’s wake up here! We’ve got to stop with this stigma and demonizing just anyone and then have the nerve to act surprised when someone shares how isolated they’ve been feeling for years, can’t trust anyone, doesn’t feel comfortable talking. People need to feel understood. If you don’t know, educate yourself, educate your ministry, educate your children & family, knowledge is power. In all your getting, get an understanding! Know the difference of demon possession and a mental illness. There is a complete separation here. If you lack discernment, then pray for it.

Of course, It’s possible that someone with a mental illness is also evil and worships Satan, but its also possible that someone with a mental illness loves and worships Jesus and isn’t evil. Know the difference here! And even more importantly Be the Difference here!

And while I’m on my rant, even if there was a demon to be cast out, would you even be equipped to handle that?! Most won’t and don’t even set aside time to fast and pray anymore. Be honest and fair with your soul. It’s time to wake up, and be READY!

There are tons of educational programs to gain wisdom, knowledge and understanding when it comes to mental health conditions such as the most common; bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, ptsd ect and to learn the symptoms. So what’s your excuse?

-Erika Brooks

Thanks again for being here and for the continued supportive feedback.

Become involved with Mental Health Advocacy. #ENDtheSTIGMA #MentalHealth

Hi Everybody,

As many of you know, May is Mental Health Awareness month. And many of my followers should know by now that I’m very passionate about mental health advocacy. You can read my other articles to find out why and how I’m involved.

Last year, in 2019, this campaign was a huge success with several supporters from friends, coworkers, and people across the states. This year, I’m hopeful it will be just as successful. In this article, you’ll be able to see just a few of the people who supported during last year’s campaign. And you’ll be able to get a visual of what it’s like to wear such a powerful message on a t-shirt.

Each and every single time I’ve worn my shirt out in public, I’ve always received a compliment and asked where they can get one, well now is everyone’s chance to get their own! You can order here! (Remember the design is slightly different from last year’s.)

This year in 2020, I’ve decided to launch another awareness campaign and you’ve got a few different options to choose from at reasonable prices. The sizes range from youths small to adult sized 4X. Here is the link which will take you directly to the custom ink campaign page. This campaign is set to run for just 4 weeks, so once it closes no more orders will be accepted.


So go ahead and order your gear today, and get it in time for May! But you can wear it any day and this is a great way to help spread our message to END THE STIGMA! It’s also a great way to help honor & show our support to those who are in this fight every single day!

Please feel free to share this post within your community of followers!

Thank you for your support & much love to ALL! -Erika

Walking with a purpose. #MentalHealthMatters #EndtheStigma

Hello ALL,

I’m walking again this year to help raise money for NAMI Walks Washington. As most of you know who read my articles, know that I’m passionate about mental health advocacy and fighting against stigma. Last year, I had a small goal of $100 to raise for this organization. This year, I registered early so I can increase my goal in hopes to raise $1,000. I’m going to include the link here which will take you directly to my sponsor page. If anyone here is interested in walking themselves, you can go to NAMI’s national website and find a local walk nearest you.

myself & Lovey (President of NAMI Pierce) at the NAMI WALKS 2019

THANK YOU FOR BEING SO KIND AND SUPPORTIVE OF MY BLOG! I APPRECIATE EVERY SINGLE ONE OF YOU!

-Erika B.

My journey with Mental Health & Special Needs advocacy. #MentalHealthAwareness

Hear me out…then if you agree please share it to support my journey with advocacy & my truths as I know them. #MentalHealthAwareness

I’ve learned along my journey with advocacy for Mental Health & Special needs, that my truth may not be yours but it’s my lived experiences that make me an expert in what I’ve encountered as a mom & caregiver. I’ve learned that I can no longer expect others who are either wilfully ignorant or misinformed or inexperienced, that ⬅”these” will likely NEVER get understanding or be able to accept the facts as I know them, which are: Mental Illness isn’t a demon that you cast out, nor is burning sage or other witchcraft going to help “fix” this. Mental illness is a medical condition and it is a brain disease, that impacts the ways a persons brain functions.

Individuals with developmental delays, down syndrome, special needs, autism, to name a few, are not cursed, and their family isn’t cursed. My own son has developmental delays and he is the most loving, kind-hearted boy, he loves Jesus! What he has isn’t contagious & he doesn’t deserve to be looked at like he himself is a disease just because he walks different and talks different. No one deserves to be mistreated. People are so quick to label and put stigma onto those living with mental health conditions and special needs conditions. They tend to think the family is cursed or in some cultures they will disown them. Mental illness is not evil. Mental illness is an unfortunate disease of the brain. I won’t expect anyone to understand this because it’s not their lived experience, they just watch tv or what media hypes up without complete and accurate education. In other words, unless you have experience what its like raising a child with a mental illness/condition or special needs than I no longer expect you to get it. Just as much as the flu hits you and you get very sick with symptoms, is similar to that of how someone can become sick with a mental health condition, it’s not something we want, it’s not anything we saw coming, but mental illness(es) are NOT contagious. They are NOT a spirit that transfers to someone else for all you deep spiritual people. They (mental illnesses) are hereditary and known to skip a generation but not always. They are treatable and they are medical conditions. Have you ever sat down and tried to talk to someone about something & their response lets you know within the first few words that this conversation is going no where. So you just stop. Let me just say this, unless you’re willing to learn & educate yourself, then don’t form an opinion based off what you heard or what you saw on a TV show or movie. Unless you live this day in & out, you can’t even begin to know what it’s like to feel isolated, scared, hopeless at times. Its especially hurtful when you can’t even turn to your own family because they just don’t get it. Let me just say this, you might know of someone who’s living with a condition, or you have a relative, or you work in a clinic or at a hospital so you think you can relate, well let me say this, it’s NOT the same & I believe anyone who’s walked a similar journey as me, will agree.

My other son, was diagnosed with bipolar disorder & he is also the most kind-hearted, comical, genuine, respectful young man. He has a heart for God & he is overcoming his battles, he is a full time college student, he is a college student-athlete. He’s truly a warrior. All Glory to God!

And let me also say to some in the church, Stop running people off because you’re uninformed and unequipped to handle someone who has any one of these health diagnoses, and you ignorantly take them to the altar and attempt to cast out a demon, cuz it ain’t going to work, and you wanna know why? Because their ain’t no demon to cast out. Pray for healing to take place instead, pray for doctors to find a cure, pray for medications to have no side effects, pray for restoration and clarity, Pray for them to have the strength to go through. That’s what you can do. Offer support & offer love, these communities of people already feel isolated and ridiculed. I said this because you have no idea just how many people I have met & sat down & listened to their stories about how the church hurt them & ran them off. As a believer In Jesus myself, we must do BETTER!

We need to educate beyond the common mental health conditions of depression & anxiety, and beyond the “acceptable” conditions like cancer, diabetes, dementia, autism, ect. Hopefully you get my point. I’m not dismissing these conditions at all, just desiring more public awareness for Mental health conditions such as BP, bpd, schizophrenia, PTSD, suicidal ideation, ect. Which are all attached to stigma! We must eradicate stigma! People are out here suffering in silence! Wearing masks so good they fool their loved ones because they don’t want anyone to know what’s going on inside. They won’t get help because of fear of stigma! They have no one to talk to because others won’t listen. Their feelings are dismissed by advice being given instead. They feel misunderstood because when the one person they hoped would offer support, didn’t. Their scared and scarred. This is why when someone takes their own life, everyone usually says they seemed happy and didn’t know anything was going on.

My thoughts on evil…Don’t get me twisted there are people who are evil, commit heinous crimes, do pure evil acts, and then we find out through media that they’ve been declared “legally insane” or “mentally ill” which makes every single person who has a mental health condition/illness viewed in a bad light. Which in my own opinion creates ongoing stigma because it’s not all the details, most times we just read, “school shooting and shooter has a history of mental illness”. Their behaviors are influenced by what they feed their thoughts not simply just because they have an illness. And there are always a whole bunch of other factors that play a huge part in someones health declining. Usually it’s because they either aren’t receiving treatment, or they haven’t found the right treatment yet, or medications arent being taken or medications need to be adjusted, ect.

What I don’t agree with is putting everyone in the same boat. Everyone’s journey is different. Even people with the same health diagnosis can live with completely different challenges & experiences. So my truth may not be yours. But this is mine!

My truth is my lived experience while raising children with various health challenges, and I’m not cursed and I did nothing wrong for those who think so. My family is blessed beyond measure. God has chosen to give us this journey, this purpose to serve on this platform. God is my waymaker. Jesus is my Savior. God is my sustainer. God is my EVERYTHING. Thank you Lord! #MyJourney #MyTruth #MentalHealthMatters #Unashamed #SpeakYourTruth #BeKind #EducateYourself #RespectTheJourney

Lastly, here are some resources that could help save a life or help you learn more.

Mentalhealthfirstaid.org
Nami.org
NIMH.nih.gov
Blurtitout.org
Bphope.com
https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/
Understood.org
https://www.navos.org/


Crisis Textline 741741 text (Home) 24/7
Suicide Prevention Line 24/7
(800) 273-8255
Pierce County Crisis Line
(800) 576-7764
24 hour crisis line
(866) 427-4747
Teen Link (6pm-10pm)
(866) 833-6546

Thanks again for being here. This was a post I wrote on my personal social media & wanted to share it here.

I am / You Are / We are more than just a stay at home mom.

My husband always says I’m more than just a stay at home mom & he appreciates me and that I’m a good wife & mother to our children.  So it got me thinking.  Because honestly in past times when someone would ask me, “what do you do for a living?”  I’d kinda timidly say, “Oh I’m just a stay at home mom or homemaker” unknown that I was demeaning my role.  After some thinking tonight, I’ve come to the conclusion that I took my own role for granted.  I’m much more than just a stay at home mom or homemaker.  If I was paid for ALL I do, I think I’d be much wealthier than I actually am presently.

Being a mom & a wife has given me experience to wear many hats & fulfill different titles.

Bookkeeper

Personal Advisor

Therapist

Financial Advisor

Cable Technician

Publicist

Tutor

Teacher

Physical Trainer

Live in Nanny

Maid

Painter

Instructor

Activist and Advocate

Founder

CEO

Language Intrepreter

Manager

Supervisor

Musician

Singer (I can’t sing)

Gamer

Movie Critic

Plumber

Mechanic

Chaueffer

Mental Health Expert

Lawyer

Driver Instructor

Comedian

Spiritual Mentor

Personal Banker

Payroll Clerk

Administrative Assistant

Receptionist

Answering Service

Stockbroker

Investment Broker

Fashion Designer

Personal Shopper

Personal Chef

Housekeeper

Seamstress

Leader

Team Captain

Accountant

Crisis counselor

Medic

Nurse

Uber driver

Door Dash driver

Librarian

Cheerleader

Life coach

And an expert in Pig Sty’s

I have become all these under the role of being a wife and mom.  And I believe other parents might agree for their role.  I value my roles and my lived experiences because they’ve only given me knowledge, wisdom and much understanding.  All these and so many more unlisted, are in relation to different stages of life and learning “on the job” training, rolling with the punches, and continuing to put on and take off many different “hats” as I live on.

Thanks for being here once again. And for following my articles.

Continue reading “I am / You Are / We are more than just a stay at home mom.”

Some of us are warriors without having served in a physical war or battle. #MentalHealth #Warrior

I just wanna share this thought, I dunno maybe its possible someone else might share in this same thought. Tomorrow is Veterans day. And we will honor our vets who served in the military, ones that went into battle for our country, ones who experienced & endured trauma, most returning home in a mental condition that they didn’t have before they left, leaving themselves and loved ones to cope with a new way of life as everyone moves forward, with some families having to be sensitive to the words that are spoken, places they go, exposure to things on television, a more heightened awareness of simplistic things and activities, conversations, odors, sounds and smells that have become so complex, creating an eggshell way of life.

I said all that to say this, my son has never served in a physical war for the military and never truly seen people dying in front of him, but he has suffered just as much mental health trauma without being in a physical war, he left for school one day many years ago, and came back home a completely different person, he has suffered much trauma inside his mind at times, he is working through his mental health battles and he too is triggered by certain things that would never have bothered him before. He suffers from night tremors, nightmares, flashbacks and anxiety every single time he has to leave the house to go to school or step foot into an atmosphere where there are large crowds. His diagnosis is bipolar disorder and he has experienced much trauma mentally and emotionally. Only someone else who has walked a similar journey could ever truly grasp what I’m talking about here. I consider him a warrior in his own right. I don’t need anyone to validate it for me.

He will probably never be acknowledged for his own heroism of simply treating others kindly while talking to someone who is suicidal, encouraging someone who’s depressed, giving his last to help another, all the while everyone only sees what they want. What they don’t know is the unseen battles he has endured in silence, while persevering through being hospitalized, ridiculed and yet graduating high school with honors, becoming a state champ for his sporting event. He will probably never be recognized for his achievements in ways that he is searching for, but I will always advocate for him and for his rights.

People only see what they are educated enough to see. They don’t recognize invisible disabilities within a person like my son and his character and personality can mask it well. He is a fun-loving, comical, person. Maybe that’s why this most recent battle he just went through wasn’t able to be recognized as a person in need of mental health first aid. He experienced another horrible episode of mania while away from home and on campus. As a result of his mental health condition that we know as bipolar disorder, he became severely symptomatic and extremely elated with his behaviors. Lots of people reported him as displaying odd behaviors and some made accusations that he was probably high on drugs, yet no one reached out on his behalf to help him. It wasn’t until he came home and I was contacted by the school that I learned he was in mania. Anyone who’s never lived with mania or been upfront, close and personally alongside a person experiencing a manic episode would probably panic on behalf of the individual suffering.

I wrote this article, not to dismiss any veteran of war, because I am extremely greatful for every vet who has volunteered to go through extraordinary life changing, life threatening events and the risk they chose to take to save civilians and fight for our country.

I merely wrote this article because with the same admiration I have for our vets, its the same way I view my son’s bravery and courage to keep living on beyond the many battles, traumas he has faced. And I only think of that comparison on a level of respect and compassion.

I was once seated inside of a mental health training along with several veterans, and there was a older vet who sat across from me and began to share his story of having served in the war and now living with the aftermath and PTSD but managing it the best he could. When I began to share with him about my own son, his response was so compassionate and kind, leading me to this very thought……..⏬⏬⏬

Two very different wars, two very different battles, but somehow it seems like very similar outcomes that bring the mind to feel in ways that no one else can ever comprehend. Thank you for hearing me.

So I thought about how much we have compassion for those who served our country by choosing to go to battle, but what about our loved ones who went into battle fighting a war that they didn’t choose, a mental health war!

#BipolarDisorder #MentalIllnessIsWartoo #MentalHealthWarrior #SeethePersonNotTheirIllness #Respect

Thanks for being here and much love, prayers, respect & support to you and your family! And a special thank you to our veterans. Always remember everyone’s journey, experience, story is very different and to be respected because its their own unique truth.

-Erika

Thank you for being honest! #Stigmasnomore

This is a short article. Just a moment of my time to say a HUGE THANK YOU to all that have read my articles and posted honest feedback.

I created a collage from readers and some of the comments I have received.

When I first did this blog, I honestly didn’t think anyone would read anything I write about. I didn’t think what I’ve experienced in my life was going to be relatable at all. Boy was I wrong.

When I write, I like to write with a purpose. Not just to blog for the day. So this is why I don’t blog daily. Not to mention that I don’t always have as much free time.

My purpose is to inspire others with hope. And to encourage someone else who might be feeling all alone in the struggle. I also share my experiences as a mom and various situations I have lived to tell, being very honest about situations and my faith with God. I try to use my own journey as a educational piece to inform others who may not be informed or maybe they just never experienced what I have. But I am in no ways a mental health professional, or licensed physician. I am just me, a mom with her own experience, which is my own truth.

With all that being said, I’ll end it and say, THANK YOU EVERYONE!

Without the readers I wouldn’t have a purpose to keep writing.

My next goal is to complete the book idea I have been working on.

Thank you for being here once again.

Blessings to you all. -Erika Brooks

THANK YOU FOR HELPING ME REACH MY SMALL GOAL! #MentalHealth


https://afsp.donordrive.com/participant/Erika-Brooks-2019

I don’t know who this anonymous donor is but it means alot. And since I don’t know what social outlet they read about my page to donate, I am writing this article to say THANK YOU on here, and on all my other media accounts.

Let’s keep going! People need to know we care. And not just by taking action here to donate, but in person, with your actions, and kind words, and active listening.

Kindness matters!

-Erika Brooks

God, Faith, Suicide & Support

So today while I was sweeping my kitchen floor a lot came to mind.  And for those who have never read any of my articles, I am a mother of 4 young adult children.  So at times a lot of my thoughts have to do with them and their growth and development, among other things.  Anyways, I was invited to walk with some people for Suicide prevention month and that happens next Saturday.  So with that being said, this thought came to my mind as I was sweeping the floor.  Why is it such an isolated topic?  Knowing that the majority have probably entertained the thought at least once in their lives that they don’t want to be here or that they have sunken down so low in depression that their is no such thing as hope for the hopeless in those moments of crisis!  By the way, don’t answer my question, it’s rhetorical.  I know the obvious answers, shame, guilt, stigma, feelings that no one will understand and so on.

I will say this, until a person has actually been impacted by something that makes a significant impact in their emotional and social well being things such as this walk I’m doing will never hit home for them.  Nor will they offer the sponsorship or support to participate because they just have no clue.  But it’s when something occurs in their life that at the moment and moving forward they learn just what compassion and empathy is.  Not to mention losing the loss of a close loved one.

I am writing this because I couldn’t help but reflect back to a couple weeks ago when I came across some news on my Twitter feed about a person who I followed during his time here on earth.  He was a father, husband, mental health advocate and a Pastor of a church.  And it was in his memoriam that another Pastor wrote:

“….Sometimes people may think that as pastors or spiritual leaders we are somehow above the pain and struggles of everyday people. We are the ones who are supposed to have all the answers. But we do not.
At the end of the day, pastors are just people who need to reach out to God for His help and strength, each and every day”. -Pastor Greg Laurie

And as I began to read about this man and all those who were intimately close to him, I began to weep and shed some tears for a man that I did not know personally myself on that level, only on social media.  Yet he was still impactful and he was a person, a human being who for his own reasons decided he didn’t want to live anymore and that always hurts my heart.  You see suicide hits home for me so much more than just a discussion and participating in a walk.  It is because last year, in 2018 I nearly lost a extremely close loved one of my own and I will not disclose their name for privacy reasons, but I will just say that I am so glad that God kept this person when they felt so low that they couldn’t keep themselves.  I hug this person often, I took a mental health training course, which taught me how to be upfront about suicide and asking a person in crisis, and what to look for as symptoms, and preventative methods.  I wanted to get more educated on what to do in a mental health crisis!

That’s another thing… People sometimes ask me why I believe in a God who doesn’t care?  They ask why do you think God rescues some people and others he doesn’t?  Why does God allow bad things to happen to good people?  Here is my experience with God and my response to those questions.  First of all I believe God cares so much more than we can allow ourselves to feel at times, or allow ourselves to believe.  However, I do believe that while upon my Jesus journey that God has given us a thing called “free-will” and I believe that it is within ourselves that we often make choices outside of Gods will yet we will put God on it when it doesn’t work out and therefore we blame God rather than seeing that it was by our choice, our might, our persistence, our determination to continue forward with a free-will decision that sometimes falls outside of God’s will for our lives.  You can disagree with me, I won’t debate.  I am merely expressing my own experiences as I have been through various heavy trials and great tribulations.  I believe that one of many reasons why people choose to leave God or not to believe at all is because they lack wisdom, knowledge and understanding about him.  I know there have been moments I still fall under his grace and his mercy when I get out of God’s will for me, when I sin, when I’m in my I don’t care moments.  But I don’t stay there.  I won’t allow myself to stay down, or in those moments for too long because it’s literally dangerous to remain in such a state, and that’s just an easy target for the devil to come in and begin talking to your head.  One other thing I will say, is that I believe every person is here only until they have fulfilled their God given purpose, regardless if they are a baby, young child, adult, or senior.  I believe that God places people here to fulfill his purpose, whether it is to reach someone, or draw them closer to Him or to help them to believe once again or for their first time.

Now back to my earlier thoughts.  I’m in a very different place in my life that I didn’t see myself in years ago.  Matter of fact, I never would have thought that I would experience most of the trauma that I have upfront, close and personal.  I have to admit it has had a severe impact on me but I have turned it around for my own good.  I am the type of person to seek out more information, to ask lots of questions, and educate myself so I can pass it onto others.  Suicide is real, and I have learned in talking with individuals that have attempted suicide that the majority of these actually don’t want to take their own life, and they are often scared, fragile, feeling hopeless, frustrated with life, or feeling unaccepted by people that they desire to be accepted and loved by.

I just wish that society would take more time to invest their time into people instead of possessions.  And that we could practice operating in love rather than spite.  If I could say something on behalf of those who have lost their lives to suicide and all those celebrities that the general public tend to put up on a pedestal as if they are not human, I would say this, “get to know me while I’m here, rather than learning about me once I’m gone”.  Because this is often how I’ve felt.  I remember being a teenager in high school and I was always hated upon by my female peers.  That was a different age then but bullying has gotten worse and become more intense because now people have social media to say nasty things or post threats toward others.

Here’s a little history about me, I was adopted.  I am full blooded Korean and I grew up in a very comfortable lifestyle, spoiled rotten and viewed as very wealthy back then.  The majority of my friends were a mixture of different races and cultural backgrounds, mostly black though.  So I had a best friend from the time I was in 5th grade until I was about mid 20s and then we went our separate ways.  So I grew up having friends with black females and yet being hated by others that never took the time to get to know me.  It was because of jealousy issues.  It was because back then I always had the latest high end designer clothes, shoes, my own car at 16 and my license, and they didn’t.  And of course because of the crowd I hung around, I was labeled as “a wannabe black girl” back then. When in reality I was just being me.  I guess that label came because of my choice of words, dialect, slang, whatever you call it.  And I met my husband in high school and he is a black man.  So our children are biracial who are often mistaken for being Samoan nearly 99% of the time.  So I shared all that to get to this point.  I was bullied a lot as a teen and I had my moments of depression, anger, rage, frustrated moments and fist fights.  Back then fighting was done with our fists and hair-pulling, not guns or shooting one another.  I know what it is like to be picked upon at school, waking up and dreading the day ahead, all the meanwhile your mom is asking how your day is, and you lie and say “good” as you walked passed to your room.  But then you close the bedroom door and blast your speakers to drain out how you really feel, searching for ways to mask how you really feel inside.  I too had thoughts of suicide and wanting to end my life, but thankfully I never attempted what was in my head.  And here I am today in my 40s and I can use my journey and experiences to try and help others who feel the ways I felt.

I have to admit though, it can be challenging at times trying to reach the youthful people.  I feel that the reason why they don’t seem to listen or think anyone older understands is because they weren’t around in the times and age that the older, much wiser person suffered some things.  So therefore they feel misunderstood or that there is no way that an older person like me could possibly understand what they went through.  And I’m not naïve either, I know what it’s like to be at that age of adolescence and feeling that you know everything and you don’t need any guidance because you’ll figure it out yourself.  I was young too and I was there before so I get it.

This article is kind of allover the place today.  But I haven’t written a long one in awhile so I guess I’m full and I needed to put it out on here for others to read because I know for a fact that someone out there will be able to relate to something from here.  And if you are reading this and you are a person who is super down right now and can’t seem to get out of the house or just feeling mad at the world or like no one understands, I’m here to let you know, you just met someone who does, and my name is Erika.  And I just want to say, it starts with your mind, and what you allow your energy and your thoughts to carry throughout the day.  Don’t feed the depression by listening to sad songs, watching sad episodes, or feed the anger by continuing to ruminate on the very things that frustrate you, instead shift your atmosphere.  Open your curtains, let the light shine inside, or turn on your lights, remove yourself literally from being in darkness.  Put on your favorite happy songs, treat yourself to a gift of any kind, call a friend that you know is inspiring and refrain from ones who are always bringing you down with them.  Matter of fact, it might be time to cut them off for your own mental well being.  Take a walk outdoors if your able, get some fresh air, buy some headphones, download a free music app and listen softly while you walk, I say softly so you can still hear what’s going on around you.  Or get an animal for emotional support.  Be honest with how you feel inside, and if at the least you have absolutely no one within your circle that you can turn to, than please put to use the crisis text line and someone on that other end will hopefully help you get through that rough moment, no matter how many you have.  Stop beating yourself up about your mistakes or what you could have done differently, be encouraging to yourself.  Change your thinking into positive.  I know you’ve heard “fake it till you make it”, but how about “faith it till you make it”.  Have faith in yourself.  Just do your best today and focus on the right now. Let tomorrow go and all the what ifs.  Stay focused on this moment and what you can do to make the best of this moment right now.

Thank you for being here and I surely hope that I said something to educate someone, something to inspire someone, and something to encourage someone.

“get to know me while I’m here, rather than learning about me once I’m gone” -Erika Brooks

Blessings to you all!  And if you’d like to sponsor me here is my link for the upcoming walk for Suicide Prevention.  Even if you don’t know me personally, but you want to sponsor me the funds go directly to the American Society for Suicide Prevention and it’s tax deductible.  Sponsors have helped me meet 50% of my goal so far to raise $150.  Any amount is accepted.

Thank you again & I wish everyone the very best in life! – Erika Brooks