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.

Artwork for therapy. #Epilepsy #Anxiety

Here are the latest pieces of my daughter’s art work. Welcome to SEENYART! She has been drawing since she was in elementary school, and she is turning 21 in October. Time has flown. Her art has become more skilled and developed. I’m very proud of all she has overcome and battled in her young life. Art and drawing is her outlet for relaxation and allows her creative juices to flow. These pieces were inspired by her first self portrait of herself as half her and half tiger. So now she has just completed, Lebron aka King James and a Lion. And Tiger Woods and a Tiger. I wish someone would discover her talents and hire her. She dreams of having her own art studio one day! And I believe she will sooner than later! SeenyArt will be a physical store and not just an etsy shop online. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. And she takes requests and charges appropriately.

She loves to sketch, draw, paint, and creates with charcoal, prisma colored pencils, acrylic paints.  She has such a creative mind, photo graphic memory and she is talented.  But also her own worst critic.  I think these are amazing.  But she thinks their “just ok”.  The other 2 are for sale, but her self portrait is not.  If you are interested in purchasing, please contact me.  Only serious offers please.

Thanks for the support.

 

[wpedon id=”1071″]

My daughter

Lebron (King James)

Tiger woods

Operating in my purpose! While helping others. #Journey #Advocacy #MentalHealth

Hi everyone!

I’m super excited to announce my latest achievement in completing NAMI’s family-to-family support program! This was a 12 week course. But we managed to finish in 11!

Next up, I am registered to become trained on facilitating their Ending the Silence program! Which is exactly what I am passionate about. This program is geared toward teens and youth. It is designed to educate and bring awareness about mental illness and mental health. I’m so excited to become official in the coming months. I’m passionate about this program because it hits home for my family and the experiences we had as my son battled his illness while in middle school, high school alone and isolated. We were his only trusted support system. Outside of our home it was kept under wraps because of the shame, stigma, and fear. So I am using my journey to give insight to others.

It is all strictly volunteer based. So if others are looking to become involved you can go to nami.org and sign up to become a member or apply to become a facilitator with your local affiliate. NAMI has many affiliates in various states across the nation.

I challenge you to do your part to help create change and end the stigma!

Thanks for the continued support!

Share your story for God’s glory. #MentalHealth #Journey #Truths

This is a thought that came to me this evening. As a person who has been flawed, imperfect, of many mistakes and poor choices along the way and finally one day becoming to the knowledge of Christ, I am unashamed of my journey. Struggles and ALL, because there is power in my story when I can admit my flaws, share my struggles, and exemplify God’s compassion and righteousness through HIS grace.

I have found that the top reason why others either lose faith or won’t even come to Christ is because somewhere along the way, they have been hurt, or mislead by someone who claimed to be “perfect” in Him.

We can strive for perfection but we aren’t without sin. (1 John 1:8)

Instead, just being fair with my soul and keeping my flaws before the throne of grace has helped me to become a more effective witness and better at forgiving my own self. I don’t condone sin, but I’m also not without it, but I also don’t wilfully practice it either. And it’s only because of Gods grace and mercy that I can continue to share with you all.

Be blessed.

Aiming High, Striving for Perfection, Seeking God daily.

-Erika Brooks

Sometimes we need others to pull us, not push us. #Encouragement #MentalHealth #MOM #Advocate

As a person, mom, advocate, wife, friend, stranger, caregiver, voice, I think I can speak for myself and others when we have felt like a failure, lost hope and felt like giving up, that we just needed some encouragement.

The important thing is we didn’t completely give up, or we wouldn’t still be here. We were able to find at least one thing that brought us back to a glimmer of hope to keep going.

In my life, I’ve had plenty of hardships and so many trials that have come to rock my foundation in my faith with the Lord. But He never gave up on me, so I chose to never lose my faith in Him.

Just to name a few…..

In spite of my youngest son dying twice, being in ICU fighting for his life only having been here for 2 months & suffering seizures, developing into significant delays in his growth. He is still alive, he is a light in a dark room, he is a joy to have around and he loves the Lord. He has a heart of compassion, he is a prayer warrior. God is using him just as he is. He is my son, Erik and when all odds were against us, we never gave up.

In spite of my oldest son, sailing through life, meeting every milestone early, highly active athlete, friend to many, and then it seemed like the wind blew bipolar our way. He has been chosen, elected and selected to live with bipolar disorder, and he is in a battle nearly everyday but he has overcome depression and graduated as a honor grad. He is here to break the stigma that others have about people with mental illness. He is one in a million.  He is the most gentle, kind-hearted person one could come to know.  He has compassion and empathy for others.  He loves to make others laugh.  He has a spirit that brightens a room.  He is a warrior.  He may have got knocked down but he ALWAYS gets back up. He has bipolar but bipolar doesn’t have him! I believe he will continue to achieve every goal and dream he has set for himself and God will make his enemies his footstool.  He is not Bipolar, He is my son, Carl.

In spite of my youngest daughter, living with depression and anxiety, abused by her own sister. She has had to fight her way through so many moments of fear and anxiety. She has survived through both mental and physical abuse. Being bullied down through her years of public school and groomed by her sister behind the shadows. Having lost her voice along the way, afraid to speak or advocate for herself.  Appearing nonverbal to others. Being diagnosed with epilepsy and not allowing her suffering to predict her future.  She is unbreakable. She is stronger because of her journey. She allowed her faith in God to be the small still voice when she once lived in isolation. She is a different person now, she has found her voice and she is unashamed to speak her truths about her journey. She is an inspiring artist and she is beautiful inside and out. She has a heart of compassion and a willingness to help others. She is empathetic and motivational to others. She is my daughter, she is my mini me. She is Selena.

 

[wpedon id=”1071″ align=”center”]

 

They just needed encouragement to keep going. Especially in some of their darkest times. They needed someone to suffer right along with them. They needed someone to show them they are valued, important, loved, and accepted. They needed someone to help them to stand again after being broken. They needed someone to pull them instead of pushing them. They needed to feel supported when it felt like everyone else had walked away. They felt like the world and everyone else was all against them, so it was a must to make them feel complete opposite of those negative emotions. And who better to be that someone than their mom.

Parents don’t give up on your children!  They need you even when their actions and words say otherwise.

I thank the Lord for my journey. I’m thankful for the strength to endure this race. I’m thankful I have never given up completely. I’m thankful to be chosen to carry out God’s assignment. I’m thankful for God closing doors that I wanted to enter. Because through those doors closing, it has guided me into finding my own purpose. Not worrying about being someone else or wishing to have a different path. I’m just thankful for my own.

You see, sometimes the path God lays out for you doesn’t always seem like it makes sense at the beginning, but as you journey along, you can discover your true purpose and where you belong.

Yes, it can be exhausting at times. But I would rather be exhausted doing what I know is right, than to be energized doing what I know is selfish. It’s all about balance, time management, knowing what battles are worth warring over and which ones don’t need you enlisted.

Thanks for taking the time to read this. And thank you for the love and support through the kind words, comments, and emails. I’m encouraged that I know I’m able to inspire others.

Be blessed!

Living with purpose. #AbleNotTheLabel

See the able, NOT the label!

This is my son, His name is Erik. He was just a baby here, he is now nearly 17 and able!

My son far left, with his teammates.

Yes he has developmental delays but he is living his life just as anyone else would. Able and capable to try new things everyday. He has overcome many obstacles.

My son at his dance class

My son at cooking class, washing dishes.

My son working out with my husband, his dad.

For those other parents who might feel hopeless. Don’t give up on hope. It can get better with time, patience, prayer, hope, and support. And to think 17 years ago, he died twice, was on life support, suffered seizures, and doctors didnt give him much chance of survival! Well we proved them wrong! And he isn’t a vegetable either, like they said he would be. We were told he would probably never talk, walk, or be able to eat normally. To God be the glory!

Keep hope, stand on your faith, and stay encouraged, even when the clouds are dark and the news is bad. The outcome is better than where it all starts.

Live with purpose.

Thank you for being here.

Hit the ignore button. #Stress #relaxation

Sometimes managing everyone’s stress is what causes you stress. Especially when trying to manage conversations, insensitive comments, arguing, bickering and complaining, and trying to prevent the volcano from erupting.

This is the moment when you just stop, breathe, hit the ignore button and turn up your favorite music or whatever else helps you to move on and let everyone else work it out between themselves. Because you just realized it’s not your problem to solve.

Anyone with me?

Thanks for listening.

MORE can be done, but its little that is being done. #MentalHealth #Stigma

Sure no one should be blamed for a mental health problem. It is my belief that everyone has a mental heath problem at one time or another. The problem is that no one can tell a person has a mental health issue. No one wears a sign! Thus, until there is a way to notice someone has a mental health issue, there is little that can be done.

This quote above was actually a comment from a reader on my article “Words Matter“, whom I will keep anonymous. Below are my views that I have chosen to write in an article rather than to display it down my feed/page since its lengthy.

I will just state my views here and hope not to offend anyone. We can’t place blame what someone doesn’t know however, everyone can make a conscience choice to stop stigmatizing others and throwing labels around whether it’s a “visible or invisible” health challenge.

Just like no one wants others talking trash about their mom/self/loved one, or referencing them by derogatory words/labels.

Just as no one knows when someone is about to go into cardiac arrest until you see the symptoms/signs of the underlying issues, but you see it’s much more common to be trained in CPR after such crisis.

In fact, when my youngest was discharged from the hospital it was mandatory for me to become trained in CPR. However, through my own experiences with both cardiac arrest, and mental health crisis there isn’t much talk about Mental Health First Aid training or suggesting it afterwards.

When my oldest was being discharged from inpatient, there wasn’t any suggestion of mental health first aid, nor was it mandatory. Instead it was just like sending me home with a bandaid that wasn’t sufficient to help aid the wound.

And I had no idea that it even existed until I began researching and taking self initiative to seek out more ways to educate myself so I can help others who are still uninformed in my same shoes. Plus become better equipped to educate and inform others who are untouched by mental health challenges. I’m not a expert, but I have the actual experience that most professionals only read about or hear during a 30 min session. I have the experience of my own journey.

Stigma is one of the causes why some individuals choose to live in isolation and silence. It is why kids often choose to hide it from their peers, teachers, and feel alone to fight in silence. Not to mention why some adults won’t speak out.

From a mother who has experienced this battle with my own children & others whom I have met in my community, I will have to somewhat disagree that little can be done. The problem is that kind of thinking, “that little can be done”, so therefore no one does anything or they just do little from the outside looking in. MORE can be done, but it’s little that is being done due to lack of funding and simply it’s not seen as a priority yet. Maybe it hasn’t impacted the “right person” yet, that person who has the power and authority to make change happen. That person who’s “untouched” and who’s views are opposite of my own.

In my own opinion, The “little” that could be done would be to change the way others view mental health disorders, and unless a person is impacted with mental health challenges they most likely won’t ever get the full effects it has on a person who suffers as well as the family/caregiver/parents. It’s kind of like this, if your son/daughter/loved one was sailing along through life and suddenly a life-altering event came in and changed his daily living, you would likely NOT want others going around defaming their character just because they have a different way of life now and a diagnosis that they didn’t expect, ask for, or want to happen to themselves, all the while they themselves are having to readjust to the issues set before them and have to fight off stigma, labels from the media, and cruelty and insensitive ignorant comments from “untouched” people.

Most of us in these situations have already grieved the loss of the person’s capabilities prior to the impact the illness or diagnosis has made in their life. There’s been some progress with Mental Health, but still A LOT of work to be done here but if everyone would begin to shift their thinking and mental health became a higher priority to those in the appropriate positions with regard to funding, laws, etc., than maybe just maybe……..

However, in spite of it all, in my journey, I have my faith & God to thank for sustaining me and my family during various trials and tribulations.

Thanks for the support, candid feedback and views. I have respect for others journeys because everyone’s path is different.

This is why I created this website, my purpose is to be the voice they don’t have, in otherwords, advocating for others who don’t feel they can be heard, or would rather have someone speak on their behalf. My passion is to help others who need help on both sides of the fence.

[wpedon id=”1071″ align=”left”]

Blessings to everyone!

From the paths of nothing to the journey of something. #MentalHealth

If I can be very candid, this used to be ME!! ➡UNTOUCHED, UNINFORMED, UNAWARE, UNEDUCATED 💯💯💯! UNTIL the paths I once walked “untouched” “uninformed” “unaware” “uneducated” have now become the paths which lead me into being “touched” informed” “aware” and “educated”. Which further pushed me into finding my purpose and I’ve become passionate about advocating for people with mental health disorders and developmental disabilities.  Why? Because I understand the struggle, daily battles.  Because I see the stigma, the false representations, assumptions, speculations, infiltrated by the media.  They edit, crop, filter out to show what they want uninformed people to see as “mentally ill” or “disabled”.  Which not only places the idea of limitations on people but also we are somewhat forced to use some of the same terms when writing articles such as this one, just to grab the attention of the uninformed.

This is a quick sketch for a visual.

sketching on my daughters surface pro. I’m not quite the artist, but this creation hopefully gives you a visual.

Thank you for being here. I don’t take lightly the support you’ve given me by your comments, follows and shares. Again, this is my own journey. Every person has their own path, journey, and story to tell. This just happens to be mine, For now……until God says otherwise.

Blessings to you ALL!

You can donate here to help me, help others.

[wpedon id=”945″ align=”left”]

Accepting the present. #MentalHealth #Grief #acceptance #love #change

In a discussion today, this thought came to me. When our loved ones life has been impacted and altered by mental illness, some of us tend to grieve the loss of the person we once knew them to be. The person before their life was impacted by this illness that came out of no where. This very illness that they have absolutely no control over or how it impacts the former abilities they used to exemplify without restraint or hesitation. I believe that’s where some of the frustration lies on caregivers. Because we have a sort of false sense of reality moving forward and keep expecting things to be the ways they used to be. Instead, we should realize life is now different.

Learning acceptance, and love for who they are now and not just who they used to be. Be accepting to the present way life is, instead of hoping for what it used to look like, this is the beginning of change. Understand that your loved one didn’t wake up “that day” deciding they wanted to have a mental illness that would disrupt their daily living. Oftentimes we try to “fix them” or “fix the situation” by unknowingly dismissing their candid feelings, which then leads to a huge misunderstanding or heated argument. I’m speaking from my own experience. That’s where the eggshell life comes into play.

Love them unconditionally and inspite of those moments when things spiral out of control or when their symptomatic and battling. Is it easy? Absolutely not. Not easy to watch our loved one suffer and battle a war that they didn’t enlist for to begin with. Love is and should be there without question. If it’s not, then I have no comment toward that, only my own views here. Everyone has a journey, every one wants to be loved and accepted. Some of us get sicker than others, and some of us have incurable diseases, minor ailments. Regardless this shouldn’t change the way love is given or love itself. Mental illness needs a cure and for the present time, in my home, the temporary cure, fix, is love and encouragement with forgiveness. Being able to forgive the words or behaviors that tend to flare up in those not so good moments. I will admit this way of life is not here by choice for either party and it requires tough skin, commitment and dedication. Make a commitment to be there for your loved one, they need your support so much more than what they express or don’t express. What looks like anger or a happy smile, could just be their “go to” mask.

Basically, I’m saying just because the outward appearance is in tact, and the disability is invisible doesn’t mean that the expectations should be pressing. Let me elaborate a little more so you can hopefully grasp what I’m explaining here. I have a son with developmental disabilities who was born on time and normal, but at the age of 2 months he suffered from cardiac arrest and seizures which impacted his growth and development. Since his age was so young when his life was impacted there was no other comparison of how he once was prior to him dying twice. His way of life is what we consider his “normal”. His development is only viewed as delayed by comparison of other children and statistics. Now had he been like the rest of my 3 children who had no known issues until way later in life then I would’ve had to accept and adjust to change from how he was to how he became. And with my youngest son, he has visible disablities so others can see he is challenged with things, such as his walk, his speech, his behaviors.

And with my oldest son, who was born normal, healthy and sailing through his growth and development. He reached early milestones of walking and talking when compared to that of others. Then many years later here came bipolar disorder! Which impacted his life, his views, his thoughts, his daily living. And it is not the same as before this illness decided to come in and hit him hard. But if you see him, he does not have obvious visible disabilities, and oftentimes the expectations presented to him are too much for him at certain times because of the symptoms that tend to flare up. Yet he tries very hard to work through, persevere, and prove himself capable. He isn’t the illness, but the illness is trying to hinder his development. He is intelligent. He is an athlete. He is hilariously funny at times. He loves music and was an honor grad. He is presently a college student. He is a believer of the gospel of Jesus and we are a Christian home. He battles everyday, as he explains to me. He dreams of becoming an Olympian thrower. And he has to work 100 times harder to achieve the same postive results as his peers, because of this illness. He is a normal young man, who is trying to beat bipolar disorder, just like someone who is battling chemo and trying to beat cancer. He is a developing adolescent, who is often misunderstood due to his inability to articulate his needs at times. He is still my baby boy, my son that I love dearly. He is changing just as we all have evolved and changed down through the years. His brain is what is sick with an illness that has no cure, YET. Plus let’s take into account he is finding ways to be independent and at the age where he’s still trying to figure out his purpose and future. So all I’m saying is regardless of the “disability, illness, disease, ailment, etc” being able to accept the present versus the past is what makes a difference. Well that’s helpful for me. Maybe not for everyone.

And to others who don’t get it, like some teachers, some first responders, even some medical professionals, there is NO ONE WAY across the board of teaching for ALL, there is NO ONE WAY of responding for ALL, NO ONE WAY of a single effective method. So just because “most” can learn, be rescued, or treated with ONE method, doesn’t mean that because you should dismiss that ONE who needs extra or different support. Sometimes you need to be that ONE to change how you teach that student, how you respond for help, how you treat that patient.

And to my fellow caregivers, parents, relatives of these loved ones, your either going to accept the process for what it really is or your going to live frustrated with always looking in your rearview.

Praying for change. Hoping for better days. Enjoying moments when life is good. Hugging often while I have opportunities. Laughing together. Creating new memories in the present. Loving each other.

Thanks again for listening, being here and following me. I hope to enlighten someone. Again, this is my journey, my views, my own opinions and what works for me and us. To each their own. Have a blessed day!