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.

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

My voice, my views, but my son’s journey. When the wind blew bipolar our way. (Repost)

Tonight, I will be sharing a small chapter of my oldest son’s journey of life in his teenage years and becoming diagnosed with bipolar disorder. This article is through my views and facts as I know them. It is my voice of experience as his mom, caregiver, and advocate.

It all began during the middle of his 8th grade year. He had come home from school one day, not speaking and with a grimaced facial expression. Anything I said, he wouldn’t respond to, I would just get that same expression. I could discern something was off, not exactly right, and very concerned. My husband was in denial, and thought he was just playing around, because our son often would joke around. However, I knew my son wasn’t playing around and this was nothing to joke about nor was it a joke itself. I like to think of it as “mothers intuition”. It wasn’t until he was attempting to make a sandwich and turn on the TV that it was obvious he was in need of medical attention. To see that he struggled to make that sandwich and watch him begin to twitch while trying to turn on the TV, that was enough for me. I can remember my husband laying down to take a nap as he too had just gotten home from work. As soon as I came out to the living area and saw my son struggling with the remote and his face twitching, I knew in that instant, he needed medical attention and there was something serious going on, but I just didn’t know what. We immediately took him to the hospital ER and he was admitted. They ran several medical tests, labs, and everything came back negative except one small concern. But it wasn’t able to explain why he wasn’t talking and why he was having all these involuntary movements with his upper extremities.

Long story short, he was discharged after sometime in the hospital as having an altered mental status. And sent home with a sedative to treat anxiety attacks, since this was also what he appeared to be experiencing. He was referred to follow up with their social worker/pediatric psychologist for outpatient services.

After his uncontrollable symptoms had ran their course. He finally stabilized and was home, all things appeared to return back to normal for himself as well as our daily living. And might I add, this entire “thing” had flipped our entire world’s upside down, inside out and scared the living crap out of us all. It was as though, here we were sailing through life just great and then this “thing” came in and interrupted our world as we once knew it before. During this time his mental health was out of his control and required him to finish his 8th grade at home. I arranged with the school district to provide a home school tutor and created a 504 plan with accommodations for his educational needs.

For those who have no idea what I’m explaining please follow this article for more descriptive details of my journey. Never did I think my family, my son, would experience anything like this. Prior to this happening our family was blind to mental illnesses and our family was once “untouched”, “uninformed”. Some of you have absolutely no clue how difficult it is to watch your child suddenly become nonverbal, incapacitated and suddenly crippled mentally and physically. It was heart breaking and I felt like my life was moving in slow motion as I was being suffocated. I felt helpless, and afraid for his quality of life.

All I had in these moments was my faith in God which served as my weapon and continual prayer as my strength. His health had been severely impacted during this time, and it was scary because of the unknown future. He needed assistance to feed himself, tie his shoes, and walk at times. And I’m talking about a child who was born healthy, normal and on time. He was advanced in some areas of his growth and development as a toddler. He had always been highly active, involved in sports, and very independent. All the things he enjoyed before had all become things that he no longer could enjoy at times. He would still partake in doing them, but just couldn’t enjoy them as he once had. It was as though the wind blew and everything changed in the blink of an eye.

To be continued…

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!

The voices of many: Recovery & Gratitude #MentalIllness

This is a collaborative collage I created to share others comments.

Since most of us are visual people I know most people enjoy looking at colorful things more than reading letters.

This was created to share some insight from actual people who live in recovery with their mental illness. These are their words, their voice, not my own. Please respect their journey as I share with everyone. I have not listed their names and chose to keep them anonymous. Even though they have given permission.

Thanks for being here once again.

I truly appreciate everyone’s feedback and continued support as I am just a mom on a journey to try and offer help to others beyond my own children.

My goal is to enlighten, inspire, educate, and make others aware and informed about mental illness and the challenges from my eyes, especially within our public school system. I really hope we can end the stigma. I have a long journey ahead but it’s been worth every moment thus far.

Have a blessed day!

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.

Just a little piece of advice #MentalHealthMatters

This is just some advice from my own walk of life.

Oftentimes I think we need to do more of these very exact statements. Instead we set ourselves up for disappointment, because we treat our friends like our therapists, and we go in way too deep instead of keeping things on the surface. Which can ruin the friendship for a variety of reasons. Breaking confidentiality being the main reason.

And instead of sharing our story for inspiration, we either don’t tell it at all, or we focus on the negative pieces ONLY, which just blocks us from reaching our own potential to do amazing things. Stop allowing people or bad memories to steal your happy moments.

Lastly for those fellow believers, keep the important things between you and God. Especially, your dreams, aspirations, goals, because people can kill your dreams, persuading you that your aspirations are ridiculous, or do everything in their power to block you from reaching your goal.

Keep hope alive, operate in faith, continue moving in YOUR purpose and allow God to give the increase! Write your vision, and make it plain.

That’s all for this article.  Thanks for being here again.

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Tonight’s encouragement & prayer for other warriors. #MentalHealth

This is what I want writers to know.

As I scroll the feed, I read

All the stories where others have chosen to pour their heart out,

As if it’s an open journal entry for everyone to read some of their most intimate thoughts.

I read mostly ones that are tagged within the mental health or special needs titles, only because I take to heart what these individuals are battling. I read because I want to know what areas to focus my nightly prayers upon and what requests I need to make known to my Lord and Savior. I pray for others whom I do not even know on a personal level, because oftentimes, their stories are very relatable from standing in my position as a loving mom and advocate.

I hope for others to have a better moment as the time continues to pass. I want the best outcome for others who feel trapped, alone, isolated, and lifeless. I want others to know they are valued so much more than their life might feel worth in those darkest moments.

In a perfect world, there would be a cure for mental health challenges, to completely heal from these brain disorders that cause a variety of negative life-impacting symptoms that spiral out of control.

In a perfect world, mental healthcare would be a higher priority instead of dismissing it like its the scum of the earth.

In a perfect world, we would have perfect people that are free from sickness, disease, ailments, cancers, illnesses.

In a perfect world, my son wouldn’t have died twice suffering from cardiac arrhytmia, ventricular tachycardia, suffer from seizures or developmental disabilities.

In a perfect world, my other son wouldn’t have suffered from a mental health disorder and become diagnosed with bipolar or have to battle everyday with the symptoms.

In a perfect world, my daughter wouldn’t have suffered from a mental health break, and seizures or have a seizure disorder.

In a perfect world, I wouldn’t have been adopted only to be verbally abused my entire childhood and made to feel worthless and depressed. Only to find my voice many years later.

However, this world is imperfect with imperfect people. As a matter of fact we are all DIFFERENT, no two 100% alike. We ALL have flaws, we all have something good within ourselves, we all have that 1 thing we would like to change.

In reality, I would like God to change things even within my own family. I would love if I could wake up tomorrow and have some chapters just been a dream and not my reality. But instead I realize these traumatic events that have caused so much pain, heartache and long-suffering, are the very same events that have taught me to trust, taught me to endure, shown me what it is to lean and depend on God, proved to myself just how strong I didn’t know I was, and now in hindsight I can look back and draw from strength of those trying times and testimonies to give me inspiration to appreciate the moments when things are good.

And most of all, it’s helped me to see others differently, but in a light hearted way. It’s pushed away the unimportant things in my life and brought me closer to the very things that are significant. It’s helped me to lay aside every weight, which were people who I didn’t need to keep around. It’s pushed me into my purpose of advocacy.

Lastly, it’s brought me here to build this website to be a voice for others who don’t feel their heard, or maybe they prefer to share through me, or they simply feel often misunderstood. My journey has brought me here to pray for others who walked a similar path, battled a similar war, struggle with similar issues, and hope for change.

I used to say this all the time, at previous church on Friday night’s, “I thank and praise God for ALL the little things, because I know bigger and better things are yet to come”. And I’ve found this to be true.

So I’ll end it here. Whether a believer of the Holy Bible or not, or believe or don’t believe in Jesus as the son of the living God, just at least know this, I am here and I have prayed for strategically for others because afterall the ONE AND ONLY reason why I am still here TODAY, is because somebody somewhere prayed for me, and God heard and kept me when I couldn’t keep myself.

Thanks for reading, and blessings to everybody.