Embracing The Mental Health Warrior in You

This month, I celebrated my 10th year anniversary in mental health recovery. I wrote a reflection post and thought I’d share a slightly tweaked version of it here as well…

10 years ago this month, I had had enough. I wanted to be fixed, I thought that I needed to be shut down and taken in for repairs. In an attempt to finally surrender, a bit of desperation (okay a lot), and with a big piece of humble pie I sat in my first therapy session crying my eyes out. Everything I thought I knew about myself felt like lie. The elaborate mask I wore and unintentionally decorated through my responses to the, “you should be’s” and other social conditioning I projected onto myself, had cracked, and with the newfound awareness that I even wore such a thing came a realization that everything that gave me the identity I had up until that point had fallen away and died. 

I only felt the pain, the anger, the disappointment, and shame that remained and I wasn’t sure what or who would emerge from the darkness that bled out. Could an ice cold heart ever beat again? Could a lost soul ever be found? Could a broken girl ever find peace enough to become a whole woman? Would I ever think my own life was worthy of the fullness of my humanity? Would I ever stop wishing I never existed? Would I ever be enough in my imperfection, my intergenerational trauma, my “other-ness”?

Every week despite not getting a magic pill to make everything “wrong”, “right”, I went back to my therapist. Shoulders slumped, world caving in, struggling, dragging my feet, working on pieces but not being willing to work on others, digging up skeletons I forgot I had, looking myself in the mirror of truth and trying not to smash it so I didn’t have to deal with what I saw in my reflection. 

Healing is hard work ya’ll. 

Slowly but surely trusting that the process worked. Working the process even though it meant never reviving those things in myself that needed to be let go of, yet wanting to cling to because unhappiness, or rather pervasive sadness and discontent was comfortable and familiar. 

Healing asks for you to go beyond the temporary fixtures (such as addiction) or bandaids (like empty relationships because you’re afraid to be alone or that nobody else will want you). 

Healing is growing to the point that you can’t stay in the cocoon anymore. Staying there doesn’t feel right anymore, and you know it. Growth requires that you break out of the trappings of what holds you back from your being more fully who you really are, it asks for you know yourself, to care about yourself, to love yourself and to trust yourself enough to spread your wings and fly. 

And I have found that I see the beauty of life so much clearer now from this different point of view. I fly, I rest, I learn, I fly some more.

I eventually flew into the arms of Infinite Love.

A redemptive love, a healing love, a transformative love, a love that waited for me until I was ready to accept it and therefore all of myself, a love that lifted me, a love that leads me, a love that calls me by my name. No, I have not “arrived”. I don’t think I ever will. That is the beauty of our human experience. I like to believe that my striving, my 2 steps forward and 1 step back, my determination is what makes me even more lovable in the eyes of my Beloved – the Higher Power of my understanding. 

Today, I have found purpose in my life.

Today I have found freedom in my ongoing quest of accepting all of what makes Lynette, Lynette. Today, I learn to like myself more and more. Today, I have joy in my heart. And even when I struggle with anxiety and depressive moods, I want to live. I think deep down most of us do. I want to have life most abundantly and this time, I believe I am worthy of it. I constantly work on my belief I don’t have to earn a worth that is already inherent to me just for being me. I have found that the G-d of my understanding is a G-d of Love, Healing and Justice. I work to embody that. 

I have the battle scars, accountability sisters, and G-d’s side eye to keep me in check. And it is my honor as someone who has looked my own proverbial Grendel in the eye, and lived to tell you about it that I use my own life, (even as my own hero’s journey still unfolds) as a witness and testimony of Divine Grace, Compassion, Mercy, Forgiveness, Redemption, and Transformation. 

I will be human, I will be messy, I will goof up and have to find my center again, I will get tired, I will punk out, I will be slow to the uptake (laughably so), I will struggle with the growth, and yet still, I will press on. That’s what we do. 

Until Next Time…Peace!

Oh! By the way, if you want to learn more about the blogger of this post feel free to check out my about page.

Sign up here for a free copy of The ABC Method to Managing Your Mental Health While Running a Business.

Money and Suicide: When “Fake it until you make it” goes too far

This blog post is part of the 4th Annual Suicide Prevention Awareness Month blog tour. If you are feeling suicidal, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text HOME to 741741

It doesn’t come as a big surprise that there’s a link between struggling with money and struggling with mental health. Depression, especially clinical depression, causes many missed days at work. But if you do manage to go into work, you face mental check-outs. You can’t focus, so you’re not productive.  

Couple this with having more bills than money in the bank, not only is this stressful but also it’s demoralizing. This is especially true when you are constantly surrounded by or reading about people who have become millionaires in their 20s or 30s, and then they retired. 

(It’s called the FIRE Movement. You can read more about it here)

When you’re an entrepreneur and a business owner, you feel even more of an obligation to live up to the hype. You may have to impress and capture the interest of investors. You may have employees relying on you. You may have a small team of independent contractors helping you do more than you normally would in your “technically” one-person shop. 

Now imagine you have a family who relies on you. You have to pay for two mortgages, childcare expenses, and medical expenses. The debt just keeps accumulating. You’re one financial crisis, one lost client gig away from ruin.  

What’s really going on behind our professional smiles and firm handshakes?

Everything inside you wants to cry out & tell someone that you are struggling, but you can’t because you are trying to save face. You’re embracing that tired entrepreneurial cliche, “Fake it until you make it.”

All this is, is a recipe for Passive Suicidal Ideation. It’s the desire to die. It’s not accompanied by a plan to end your life. But the thoughts are real and intense. And they can lead to Active Suicidal Ideation with an actual plan to end your life if you don’t take them seriously. 

According to Money and Mental Health Policy Institute, if you’ve had a “major financial crisis” within the past six months, (which can happen quite frequently as an entrepreneur) you are nearly eight times more likely to experience suicidal thoughts. And while you might never intend to act on those thoughts, it can and has happened. On the flip side of that, common symptoms of mental health problems, such as increased impulsivity and memory problems, can make it harder to keep on top of financial management. Impulsivity is also a trait often attributed to entrepreneurs

One of the main reasons I was motivated to write my book, “Success to Die for” is that I wanted to advocate for mental wellness amongst business leaders to prevent entrepreneur suicides. Whenever I thought about business owners, CEOs, and entrepreneurs I will be the 1st to admit I assumed they were “go-getters,” “super strong,” “ultra productive,” and “has it all together.” That was until I became a business owner myself that I quickly learned whatever load you’re carrying around in your life comes right along with you into whatever business venture you’re embarking on in some form or another. And that includes mental health issues. 

How can we Be The Change…for real?

Too many of us are suffering in silence, faking as if everything is awesome. It’s time for leaders to stand up and have real conversations about mental health for suicide prevention. And these conversations need to take place more than once a month.

Now I pose some questions to you: how can you help support suicide prevention? How can you overcome Suicidal Ideation? How can you help someone you know overcome Suicidal Ideation? 

Here’s a few suggestions:

1) Take mental health first aid to know the signs, so you can assist a loved one in need. 

2) Walk to fight suicide and raise funds for more research.

3) Join an online mental health peer support community like Love Yourself Love Your Business.  

4) Maybe most important of all: talk to someone you see struggling. Reach out to someone when you are struggling. You’d be amazed how much a simple conversation might help. Not sure how to reach out? Learn more by clicking here.

 

Until Next Time…Peace!

Oh! By the way, if you want to learn more about the blogger of this post feel free to check out my about page.

Sign up here for a free copy of The ABC Method to Managing Your Mental Health While Running a Business.

Be The Change Series Interviews- Featuring: Lynette Davis

The Series Finale of the Be The Change Interview Series

Featuring: Lynette Davis, Mental Health Advocate and Nonprofit Founder

Here’s the direct link to the recording on YouTube: https://youtu.be/UOG8Nr3bn8Y

Flashback to the very first video of the Be The Change interview series: http://lynettedavis.com/2014/07/30/be-the-change-2014/ 

About

Lynette Davis is a mental health advocate and peer support specialist trained by NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) and in Mental Health First Aid. She is the author of “Success To Die For”, blogger, speaker and the founding Executive Director of Love Yourself Love Your Business, Inc. a mental health peer-support community for small business owners and entrepreneurs.

Visit our website: http://loveselflovebiz.com/ for additional information and resources.

How You Can Help

Support Love Yourself Love Your Business with seed funding so we can expand our projects to provide low-cost to free services for small business owners and aspiring young entrepreneurs dealing with mental health issues. 

Resources mentioned

Lynette’s book “Success To Die For” 

PowerMatch: https://www.powermatchonline.com/

Eat, Play, Love Monthly Meetup

The League of Extraordinary Love Agents (a private mental health support community for business leaders) https://www.facebook.com/groups/leagueofloveagents 

“There is always something to do. There are hungry people to feed, naked people to clothe, sick people to comfort and make well. And while I don’t expect you to save the world I do think it’s not asking too much for you to love those with whom you sleep, share the happiness of those whom you call friend, engage those among you who are visionary and remove from your life those who offer you depression, despair and disrespect.”

Nikki Giovanni

Until Next Time…Peace!

Oh! By the way, if you want to learn more about the blogger of this post feel free to check out my about page.

Sign up here for a free copy of The ABC Method to Managing Your Mental Health While Running a Business.

Business Leaders Need to Publicly Talk About Mental Health

As you may know, mental health is getting the spotlight in the media more and more. Celebrities are publicly talking about their struggles with mental health issues and are checking themselves into inpatient mental health hospitals for a concentrated treatment plan. Even royal families are getting involved in this movement to bring more awareness about the importance of managing our mental health

Yet, we are still hearing and reading news of celebrity deaths by suicide. We’ve learned that suicide is the 10th leading cause of death today. That 90% of people who die by suicide experienced a mental health condition. And workplace wellness initiatives still emphasize physical health, and at times don’t address mental health at all. 

There are many ways we define leadership.

And I think it’s time our personal definitions included being unashamed about saying,  “I’m not perfect.” “I need help.” “I struggle with…” while knowing and being assured that it doesn’t make you “less than” in any way, shape, or form. Not only knowing that you are “enough” in your imperfection, but being able to thrive in a culture where vulnerability, coupled with courage  is not ostracized, but rather a norm where people easily and readily can say, “yes, I struggle with anxiety too, I get it, and I see you.” 

Suicide is preventable. Mental health concerns are treatable and manageable. Healthcare access is more accessible when there is no stigma associated with both the terminology, as well as the act of seeking help for better management. For example, being able to ask for recommendations via a public Facebook post for a good therapist without being shunned for it. 

But we need to talk about it

We cannot heal what we sweep under the rug. 

Having honest conversations that encourage seeking support, that don’t minimize or invalidate experiences, and that show a struggling person that they are cared for, and that they matter, helps save lives. 

Investors are starting to realize that Startup Founders are struggling with mental health issues and addictions. They are hearing how the Startup lifestyle is literally killing their best talent and the creative genius that “could have been”. And they are taking pledges to offset that. It’s a great start! Large corporations have EAP, which is fantastic benefit to offer employees, but leaders themselves aren’t buying in. And due to toxic work environments that don’t truly hold space for wellness or wellbeing, neither are the employees. 

And what about mid-sized business owners? Small business owners? Freelancers and solopreneurs? The majority of small businesses are in fact very small. These very business owners don’t interest venture capitalists. So many bootstrap their way to making a living. Their identity is far too wrapped up in their ability to produce, and all too often for as little money as possible, leaving many earning less that 50k a year. How great would it be for small business owners to really support one another in our work environments of one to a few – by taking “mental health” days. Or vacations where we actually turn off our mobile devices and unplug? Or 60 minutes a month to play?

We talk about hustle culture, and doing whatever it takes…

What if “whatever it takes” is really about rest, restoration, and deeper connection?

What if whatever it takes is about having the courage to document standards for our businesses, so we can actually love what we do and work with people we love to work with? What if it’s about honoring those standards, even when others have no concept of boundaries and ethical standards, or walking with purpose? What about building a culture of health and wellness? A culture based on love rather than fear of missing out?

Can we start talking about how we had a great peer support group meeting the other day? Or how we worked through our anxiety with the five senses technique and didn’t have a panic attack on the way to a networking event? Or how thanks to taking Mental Health First Aid we were able to see the signs of mental health distress in a family member and encouraged them to text the mental health crisis text line and get help until they could get in to see a psychiatrist?

I’m very proud and happy to announce that Love Yourself Love Your Business has officially incorporated as a nonprofit organization.

We are establishing ourselves as a leading peer-led nonprofit that creates intentional spaces of support for small business owners and entrepreneurs who often deal with depression, anxious thoughts, loneliness, addictions, and work-related stress leading to burn out.

For the month of May, we are encouraging business leaders – from one-person shops to large Fortune 100s – to be bold and courageous about speaking up about mental health. 

We are asking you to take the lead about creating a stigma-free culture where mental health and wellbeing is a priority and not an afterthought.

We’re asking you to create space for open dialogue around mental health because not only is it an exercise in healing for yourself, but it is the bat signal to all who look to us for guidance and direction – those who want to be the heroes of their health and life stories too. 

Share your narrative.

Share your story of healing, hope, struggle, overcoming, constant battling, failures, successes, what you’re doing to manage your mental health and wellbeing, how you’re implementing mental health in your workplace wellness program. 

We’ve even created a starter kit for you here.

Join us during Mental Health month, (starting May 1st) and be sure to use the hashtag #EntrepreneursTalkAboutIt let’s make this a conversation that continues, and grows into real change. 

Until Next Time…Peace!

Oh! By the way, if you want to learn more about the blogger of this post feel free to check out my about page.


Making Peace with Your Traumatic Mental Health History

Awhile back, I noticed a theme of having the courage to reach out and connect with others emerge. This month, I’d say that I saw a theme around being willing and ready to receive the help you’re asking for. And in order to do so, you have to understand that “help” can come in the form having to touch base with uncomfortable emotions and experiencing scary change that could and possibly would transform your life. 

I thought about a lot of “what ifs” 

What if your deep-rooted truth revealed that you are not a victim?

What if you are revealed to be more than a survivor? More than a conquer? More than the labels you’ve internalized and reflect back onto yourself?

I saw this simple, yet highly important message the other day via Bad Girl Mystic and thought, “now how do we take that concept and own the whole truth of it’?

I didn’t need to look any further than my own lived experience, and what I’ve encountered along the way.

I’m quickly approaching the month that will mark my 10 year anniversary in mental health recovery. And I’m not ashamed to admit…I still haven’t got it all figured it out. Of course I don’t! And not only am I okay with that, but it actually keeps me motivated to learn more about myself, how I process the world around me, and how I heal while simultaneously dealing with the constant paper cuts from varying degrees of microaggressions. I’ve come to understand that recovery and healing is a process. It is a process because there are many things we are told about who we “should” be and what healthy is or is not. We have to be almost detective-like in order to uncover what pathways are buried underneath the pathways we are acquainted with.

Imagine the type of healing we can experience when armored with truth. 

I believe making peace with the totality of who you are is key if you want to heal the self and the collective selves that make up a society. But you have to be ready and willing to do the work of healing. Because well, life is a ride.

I think it’s helpful to know that you’re going to encounter views contrary to what you thought was the “right” and perhaps only way to go about things. For instance, I only thought of depression one way…a standard westernized definition. Then I encountered a broader definition of the word. In her book, “Women of Color Talk” Dr. Angela Clack defines depression as…

“a disconnect from your authentic and true sense of self, i.e., it is an identity problem; it is a disconnection from one’s health thought life; a disconnection from one’s body and physical self; a disconnection from one’s power source, once’s connection with a higher power; a disconnection from family, friends, and other social supports necessary for successful recovery; and a disconnection from one’s sense of belonging in this world because of racial/gender/ethnic disparities.” 

Looking at depression in that way changes how I think about, and how I approach my therapeutic relationships.  

In my own book about mental health issues, I debunked the story that “cured” was this set, static destination. I began embracing the idea that a cured life was one that encompassed an ongoing act of care, concern, and responsibility. My recovery and healing process then took on new meaning. It changed my story and the type of hero I was willing to be in my own story. Hint: I became more open, honest, assertive and hopeful. 

Life became more beautiful to me.

Seeking after the truth of a “cure” made my life more meaningful, even as truth feels so elusive. Because as I seek it I realize so many things going on outside of my tunnel vision. When I look around and stop chasing the single concept of what I think I should look like when I’m “healed” or rather what I should have looked like if I wasn’t “ill”, I see that my journey in and of itself is just as awe-inspiring as my proverbial finish line. I see that my journey isn’t only my ugly past, my ACE score, that I still kinda suck at martial arts 😉 or that I still struggle with anxiety and/or depression. No, my journey is also that I am persistent, that I am resilient, that I’m growing and that I see my fears and I press on anyway. But even better, is that I am more than just the sum of happy days and trigger days. 

I love this combination of quotes by author, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. In her TED talk she says that,

“The single story creates stereotypes, and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story.” Then she goes on to say that, “Power is the ability not just to tell the story of another person, but make it the definitive story of that person…Start the story with the arrows of the Native American, and not with the arrival of the British, and you have an entirely different story. Start the story with the failure of the African state, and not the colonial creation of the African state, and you have an entirely different story.”

The single story being told about Indigenous peoples of this land I’ve often heard (in a westerner context) is that of drunkenness and laziness. I’ve also heard a similar story about the people of African decent…I’m still not entirely sure if these stereotypes came about during or after the free and forced labor of my ancestors. Negative connotation is often a single story of poor people, people who immigrate to other countries, what said immigrants are told about the people who were already here but are scapegoated, people who work multiple jobs and haven’t received advanced degrees, people with advanced degrees who have overwhelming debt with no job or jobs with very little pay that have nothing to do with their schooling…I can go on. And when I was younger, I fell for the okie doke. I know better now. 

I learned that the single story stunts healing and growth.

I realized how harmful “if I did it so can you” can be. This is especially true when it’s used to justify (read blame) the attitude and treatment of others based on socio-economic position. I realize how harmful that is when it comes to mental health. And I see it all the time in mental health communities. “I’m better than you because I can function at a standard-enough level of “normal” AND be a contributing member of society even though I have *insert diagnoses*, and since you can’t, there’s something wrong, lazy, “bad” about you.” Not only is it harmful, it’s often times untrue and an incomplete story that disregards the entirety of one’s story. 

My nonprofit is built around the concept of serving people who are often times the so-called “high-functioning” and contributing members of society (business owners and entrepreneurs), but them creating jobs and circulating dollars in their communities isn’t their only story. Their story also tells the tales of substance abuse, work-alcoholism, chronic stress, dysfunctional upbringings, and suicides. If there’s two sides to their coin, why couldn’t there be two sides to the coin of the person who isn’t what society deems as “worthy”?

In order to make peace with a history, we cannot disregard any part of it, especially the parts that don’t fit into the narratives of what story we wish to tell so to soothe our egos, or lid a box we’ve decided to group a people in. Healing cannot happen in a singular story. Healing happens as we unpack and process the layers of many stories we’ve been told, told ourselves, and project onto others. 

Until Next Time…Peace!

Oh! By the way, if you want to learn more about the blogger of this post feel free to check out my about page.

Sign up here for a free copy of The ABC Method to Managing Your Mental Health While Running a Business.

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