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.

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.

Here’s a wealth of information about ABLE accounts! #Disabilities #Money #Assets

Last night I attended “The Gathering” which is a open group meeting held by NAMI Pierce for the community. A local affiliate that I am a member of and involved with. NAMI stands for National Alliance on Mental Illness for those who may not have known.

This would be my first time attending the gathering event. I’m so glad I went because the topic of discussion was about the new ABLE accounts for individuals with disabilities.

I had already heard about this service finally being offered in our state but didn’t know all the details.

There are some good benefits to having an ABLE account. The fact that the individual is allowed to save more than $2000 in their account without it being considered an asset with a maximum of up to $100k saved. And in this ABLE account those funds aren’t considered an asset when and if the individual should need to apply for Washington Apple Health, DSHS SNAP, TANF, food stamps, DCYF (childcare), HUD section 8 are all ABLE exemptions. Pretty cool right?

I also learned the qualifying expenses to spend from the ABLE account are basic living costs, housing, transportation, education, assistive technology, employment training, personal support services, legal fees, funeral, burial expenses, health and wellness, financial management costs. So in otherwords, they are able to spend on groceries, dining out, pay rent, and all the other things necessary to utilize their monies for.

There were a few downsides I wasn’t too fond about but it might be seen as beneficial for others. The individual would NOT have any access to withdrawing cash from a bank or ATM. Although I did ask the question, what if the individual uses their prepaid MasterCard at the grocery store and tries getting cash back at the register? I wasn’t given an adequate answer, instead I was told, “their not supposed to do that.” So I reiterated once more, “so their not supposed but they can, or their not supposed to and they won’t be given this access?” Still no clear answer, just informed that because the program is so new, kinks are still being worked out. So if anyone reading this actually knows the facts please comment to share that helpful info.

The other thing I wasn’t too fond of is that there us a $10 minimum transaction amount, and a $15k withdrawal amount. The number of withdrawals are unlimited daily and no transaction fee. But in order to spend from the account, it is only by online purchases, paper check, or their option of prepaid MasterCard. And its advised the individual use the funds for qualified disability expenses ONLY, and maintain records of their purchases.

There is also a fee for the prepaid card. It’s $1.25 per month so I had asked if they load $10 and don’t wind up spending the $10 does it fee itself out from being dormant over the period of say 8 months? Answer was yes. So basically, don’t load the card unless you know those funds are going to be spent. Again, there is no access at an ATM, or any financial institution. It’s is also prohibited for online gambling or illegal transactions which is a good thing.

The other downside, is that because this is NOT a credit card with a line of credit, if they use it for reserving a hotel stay, rental car, or things of that nature, they need to make sure to load the appropriate amount of funds in the event that the company may decide to preauthorize a set amount to hold their reservation. Meaning that set amount is not accessible to the individual until that hold falls off.

I could go on and on about all the details of the ABLE accounts but I would rather anyone who’s truly interested to inquire for the accurate information themselves. You can click the link within this article here to go directly to the website, or you can find the link on the main page of my website listed under resources.

So that’s a little bit of information to share with others who receive SSI, SSDI or are disabled who don’t receive these benefits but their disability occurred prior to the age of 26 and would meet the criteria.

I hope I was able to enlighten someone with this small wealth of information. One last thing I will provide here are 2 present contacts for these ABLE accounts with Washington State which may be difficult to find on the website.

Peter Tassoni, Disability Workgroup Manager – (360) 725-3125 peter.tassoni@commerce.wa.gov

Chris Gagnon (360) 725-3131 Christina.gagnon@commerce.wa.gov

FYI- At times I share other people’s articles to help them gain exposure or to help spread awareness about their journey with their life. I’m here to help others and to advocate for what I believe in. I’m here to be the voice for others who haven’t found the courage to use their own yet, but still want to get a message out. I’m here as a mom, advocate and friend, not a Mental health professional. Just using my experiences and knowledge to hopefully help others who are uninformed.

Have a great day! And don’t forget to follow me on my new social media outlets:

Twitter – @StigmasNo

Instagram – @Stigmas_No_More

Facebook – @Stigmasnomore.com

Or you can always contact me privately here by clicking “email me” or email me directly at: Stigmasnomore@gmail.com.

Thanks again for being here and I appreciate the positive feedback that some of you have already given me. I truly appreciate it. It helps me to know that my time, work and writing efforts are not in vain.

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.

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.

Words matter #MentalHealth #StigmasNoMore

When people have a Mental Health diagnosis they never even wanted themselves & others throw “words” around to stigmatize, it’s like sentencing a completely innocent person to death row for a crime they weren’t even present to commit. Falsely accused of a crime. And now dealing with consequences that don’t fit. The punishment doesn’t fit here in this scenario. Stop punishing, stigmatizing and scrutinizing people who have mental health challenges. Who knows where life will take you next. What if the tables were turned and you suddenly had a mental health diagnosis?

#EndTheStigma #StigmasNoMore #MyAnalogy

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!

Mental Health First Aid #MentalHealthMatters #EndTheStigma #MentalHealthAwareness

I cannot stress enough how much everyone’s Mental Health is just as IMPORTANT as their physical health.

And knowing what to do during a mental health crisis, is necessary. What to do, what to say, what not to say, how to help, what actions to take, how to identify the type of crisis and treatment needed. Would you know where to turn for help, who to call, where to start, what to expect?

My husband and I took a mental health first aid training class. I have to say that being a mom of a child with bipolar disorder and a child that has had a psychotic break due to stress, this training was not only accurate, but informative, educational and eye opening.

There was even an exercise that the class did to attempt to give the idea of just how challenging and difficult it can be for an individual while experiencing psychosis. This really hit home for us, because although we don’t have mental illness ourselves, nor can we truly say this exercise exemplified what an individual actually goes through while in psychosis, it gave enough of the significant examples of how the mind is challenged to try and concentrate on outside things, conversations, ability to focus, while hearing auditory hallucinations at the exact moment that so many other things are going on at the same time. It hit home because we witnessed our children suffer through psychosis and it was admittingly so, a very difficult and extremely hard period of time to work through. All I can say, is register today and educate yourself.

It would be wonderful if it was priority to EVERY person, especially those in the line of work such as, first responders and public educators. EVERY parent, sibling, just EVERYONE.

It would be life-changing if we as a whole could END THE STIGMA that surrounds mental health. And if we could invest our time and money into finding a cure for these brain disorders. If we could look at them as medical illnesses and not just something to be dismissed and isolated.

Change is necessary. Mental illnesses are brain disorders in my own opinion. Mental illnesses don’t discriminate, they impact whomever they want, wherever they are, and without prejudice of a person’s religion, belief, gender, race, culture, weight. Mental health organizations lack in funding and this has to change!

The harsh truth is that people don’t support what hasn’t impacted their lives. People won’t support what they can’t understand. People only jump on board once their lives have been touched, my plead, is PLEASE don’t wait to be in a mental health crisis to finally get training, education, facts.

If you were experiencing cardiac arrest, and you flatlined wouldn’t you hope and want someone around you to call for help and perform CPR and do it properly? Allowing you the chance to be resuscitated and getting you help in those first few crucial moments?! Don’t wait to be in crisis, be prepared.

Thanks for listening! Remember mental health matters! Self care is important. End the stigma, educate yourself. I hope to change the way you see mental illness. Everyone has a journey, and their own walk of life. This is just a small part of mine. This is my experience, my views, my own opinions, my own plead for change. I’m NOT a doctor, NOT a mental health professional, but I AM A MOM AND ADVOCATE who has walked in my own shoes. I’m writing about what I know to be my truth, and not about what I saw in the media or what I heard 3rd party from someone else. Again thanks for being here!