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.

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!

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.

Real heroes of bravery. #MentalHealth #Warriors

For those who don’t know me personally or for those who are reading this as my first article. I am a mother of 4 young adult children with very different health challenges, one side being mental health and the other being developmental delays.

So as I write this article tonight, it’s to give honor, love, respect to not only my own children but to every other individual who’s battled through trauma. This is for those who’s blogs I have read on WordPress, who’s tweets on Twitter, posts on other sites, and have cried out from their pains and times of desperation in search for something to change. Those who have shared their story and ones who are reading for encouragement while gaining courage to share their own. Those who feel alone in their situation. Those who feel they don’t have a voice. Those who fit this article.

I admire your strength to not give up on your own self.

I’m proud of your courage to share how you truly feel inside.

I’m glad your here and you’ve continued to fight everyday. In my eyes your a warrior in your own right.

YOU MATTER more than you may feel in those dark moments.

YOU are loved more than it seems.

YOU are valued higher than you think your worth.

YOU are battling that “thing” that isn’t you.

YOU are stronger because of your own journey.

YOU matter most to the ones who love you.

YOU are here and I am glad.

Don’t let that bad moment, rob you of living out your next moment. Combat the negative thoughts as soon as they enter, do your best to survive.

I want everyone else to know, mental health challenges, diagnoses, illnesses, disorders, or, whatever else you refer to it as, these are not here by choice. Mental Health challenges as I know them, witnessed them, weren’t preventable, but can become manageable with appropriate and accurate treatment and support. So PLEASE do not blame yourself or the individual for this very “thing” that decided to come into their life one day and shift some things around. Continue to fight against the stigma, while we hope to find a cure one day, and we gain courage to speak out and share our stories of our own journeys.

We can do a walk for mental health awareness, sell t-shirts to raise funding for more public education toward ending stigma, even as I do, but that is honestly not enough!!! I’m hoping for a cure an accurate diagnosis the first time around, proper treatment, low to no side effects from these medications, a natural accurate remedy to heal these very “things” that interrupt our minds to become irrational and altered at times. But until then, I will continue to do what I can within my power to help others, use my voice, and raise funds for these causes.

Every person who has truly lived thru #MentalHealthTrauma I consider a #warrior. The wars we fight may not be the same battle as another but we are still warriors & some of us are still in the battle EVERYDAY but we have not been defeated becuz it’s #MindOverMatter.

-Erika

Thanks for being here. I truly hope I’ve said at least one thing to inspire someone.

You can now follow me on my new Twitter page at @StigmasNo or on like/Follow posts on my new Facebook page StigmasNomore.com.

I will also be sharing others select stories or journeys and not just my own.

Mental Health Awareness. #MentalHealth #Support

https://www.namiwalks.org/participant/Erika-Brooks

Please sponsor me in this movement today. This will be my first 5k. And mental illness is a topic I’m passionate about. Or you can also buy a t-shirt with the message “End the Stigma” and help spread the message. If you believe that Mental Health Matters than let’s stand united and spark a conversation with those who lack knowledge about mental health. Let’s end the stigma and break our silence.

I truly appreciate all the support from everyone. Thank you so much! 💕💕

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!