When It Feels Like Your Body Is Failing You, It Affects Your Mind and Emotions Too

Before I started my business, I took a small business course at my local community college. At that time, I hadn’t found all the online business “gurus” and only knew about SBDC and local NJ entrepreneurship resources because of my community involvement. This was helpful because I got to understand business foundations and see the value in learning more than just “5 steps to growing your email list”.  At that time, I also didn’t have any intention to start an online business *gasp*. I was going to start a family owned cafe and bakery. I had a great idea for one that I had done research on and saw that there was no-one else in the area with this particular concept. The resources I had located told me to try a business course 1st to see how viable the idea was including, working at a job that would feel similar to the business you want to start…long story short, my lack of resources and my impatience and frustration working in hospitality let me know that the only way I’d own a cafe would be if I was simply the money person.

But let me backtrack. While in the course, the instructor asked us to discuss things like health policies. We all chuckled when those who had already ran businesses, (some brick and mortar) answered “don’t get sick”. I didn’t realize then how much that was no laughing matter.  But even more importantly, I didn’t realize what that type of answer would reveal about the culture of many businesses – from micro businesses like virtual assistance and online business management , to corporations including the incorporated nonprofit.

Our culture has an unspoken rule that illness is taboo. 

Even articles that I read about wellness programs are essentially saying ‘hurry up and be well so you can be a productive, highly engaged workhorse…err we mean workforce for our money making machine’. Ok I’m over exaggerating, but I’m not that far off. Because after being around and listening to the narratives of people who are chronically ill, who have had doctors that were so inclined to be the expert that they stop listening to their plea for care when they’ve told doctors that despite a clean bill of healthy “something isn’t right here”.  Or I’ve listened to those who have disabilities, some seen, others unseen, (like people with heart conditions) and I’ve heard how people treat them because they aren’t the right kind of sick. I’ve learned that mainstream doesn’t have a contingency plan for those who aren’t deemed contributors even when they really are…just not at the moment, or not in a way that fits contemporary expectations.

And truth be told, you have to have a radical self-love practice for your body to contend with the fact that illness is not tolerated for the long-haul and even attacked. 

And yes, this…rejection of your…being messes with your mind. It’s a close encounter with trauma. It’s traumatic to be you and be hated for no other reason than being yourself. And trauma was one of the causes for mental health disorder that came up in the research for my book on mental health and entrepreneurship over and over again. So, advocates like myself combat the trauma of being ostracized while also at the same time proactively encouraging and extending resources for healing.

This is why StigmaFighters exists. This is why large advocacy groups exists. And also why smaller grassroots who address the needs of people often left out in the bid for healthcare reform exists. This is why RadicalWell exists. And even why Love Yourself Love Your Business exists. Why do we have to be advocates even when we’re not mental health professionals? To decrease stigma yes, but really it’s about creating a shift in culture.

Wellness policies that reach beyond bringing in a personal trainer or “an app for that” (though those are important too) but also include health risk assessments, peer advocacy and support for leaders that offer up compassionate resources that say you don’t need to deny your illness and disease/illness management could go a long way. I think this concept of wellness at work is applicable for small business and micro business owners who may or may not be a 1 person shop just as much as it is for the big companies.

“Don’t get sick” is not a health care plan.

It denies our basic humanity and encourages mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression. But really it encourages a culture that shames, stigmatizes and traumatizes our human experience. And quite frankly, we can do better than this.

Until Next Time…Peace, Love, and Wellness!

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: Sarah Fader

The 2017 Be The Change Interview Series

Week 1 – Featuring: Sarah Fader, Mental Health Columnist, Speaker, and Viral Hashtag Creator

Here’s the direct link to the audio recording on YouTube: https://youtu.be/MqNKYB1wVXw

About

stigma fighters sarah faderSarah Fader is the CEO and Founder of Stigma Fighters, a non-profit organization that encourages individuals with mental illness to share their personal stories. She has been featured in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Atlantic, Quartz, Psychology Today, The Huffington Post, HuffPost Live, and Good Day New York.

Sarah is a native New Yorker who enjoys naps, talking to strangers, and caring for her two small humans and two average-sized cats. Like six million other Americans, Sarah lives with panic disorder. Through Stigma Fighters, Sarah hopes to change the world, one mental health stigma at a time.

Connect with her on Twitter or on her personal website at http://www.sarahfader.com/

How You Can Help

Support Stigma Fighters at stigmafighters.com where they publish essays from people living with mental illness.

Resources mentioned

DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders )

#ThisIsWhatAnxietyFeelsLike 

NAMI 

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.

Mental Health Education For Family Members and Friends of Loved Ones with Mental Illness

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Yesterday I learned that Amy Bleuel, the Founder of Project Semicolon, a global nonprofit founded in 2013 that is dedicated to presenting hope and love for those who are struggling with mental illness, suicide, addiction and self-injury had passed away at the young age of 31. I was deeply saddened by this news. For one, I knew the impact she had made via Project Semicolon, and the thousands of lives she had touched through a cause that started out as a way to honor her late father who had died by suicide years earlier. But also, I felt a bit numb because Amy and I had spoken one-on-one on several occasions. Besides being a speaker for the Love Yourself Love Your Business virtual conference, we had very vulnerable conversations with each other about mental health and the things going on in our work lives that were stressing us out and frustrating us. You don’t get to have that kind of intimacy often in this entrepreneurial dog eat dog world, so I felt awful that I didn’t even realize I no longer saw her posts which used to come very frequently through my Facebook newsfeed. But I think she would be proud to know that I’ve gotten a whole heck of a lot better with my coping skills. #Counseling #GetYouSome

Feelings of guilt, anger, frustration, heart brokenness, worry, fear, and angst because it hits a little too close to home are all feelings that I learned were very normal, and I have to thank my most recent mental health education for that. One major reason why it’s been extremely hard for me to keep up with everyone, (besides the fact that it’s just hard to do that with thousands of social media connections) is that my own family had crisis. My immediate family and most closest friends know more details about my own history with years of struggling with depression and anxiety, which was chronic and mild. So, when a family member has a major episode of psychosis we were unfortunately ill prepared. My ideas of calm meditation, eating healthy, yoga, and mindfulness kinda went out the window because telling someone who wields a sword and declares that they will protect the people of earth as a chosen warrior of God, to add some zen to their life doesn’t really cut it…at least not at that time.

And so determined to understand psychosis, which was new to me on a personal level, be a better knowledge base for my family and anyone else who came my way wondering how the heck do you deal with the sudden loss of a loved one either by physical death, or death of a personality you had grown to love, I took up the Mental Health First Aid training which is free and accessible, so I can be more aware and appropriately responsive.

I also enrolled in the NAMI Family-to-Family classes with my mother. NAMI Family-to-Family is a free, 12-session educational program for family, significant others and friends of people living with mental illness. It is a designated evidenced-based program. Research shows that the program significantly improves the coping and problem-solving abilities of the people closest to an individual living with a mental health condition.

I joined NAMI back in 2015 and even went to the annual conference in my state. I had been on the fence about being involved this year because I had gotten lost in their system via no responses to my correspondence and attempts to get more involved, which isn’t unusual for nonprofits at all. This is why I’ve a love/hate/grudgingly respect and appreciate relationship with large nonprofits and prefer to partner with smaller grassroots organizations. But I am very glad that NAMI has this program and I highly recommend checking it out even if you yourself have a mental health issue.

As someone who has been in mental health recovery for about 8 years it was completely new to hear from family members who associated themselves as “not mentally ill” and yet had the heart and determination to empathize and “come out” as die hard advocates.  I say new because I am used to hearing from people with lived experience rather than the outside looking in when they aren’t paid to be looking from the outside in. It gave me perspective, to say the least. I think perspective in and of itself can save a life.

Dr. Kelly Brogan (who I find quite controversial and wonderfully fascinating) wrote that “people require basic tools, simple truths, and community.” I agree with that. And I know that education is one of those basic tools.

The truth is, there is stigma within the mental health community itself.  Psychologists and Psychiatrists go at it, and so do people who have “severe” mental illness vs. those who have “high functioning” mental health disorders. I know for a fact that Amy had people questioning a lot of what she was doing, some of her ideas and thought leadership, and some of those people also had mental health issues.  This is why I believe that education isn’t just for the professionals who treat mental health disorders, but for the people who call themselves advocates and allies as well.

I’m going to end with this, if you felt triggered by the death of Amy do not feel ashamed, or guilty because you feel you are making it about you and not them…those feelings are normal and you are not alone. Reach out. The legacy continues as we continue to share our stories, as we continue to increase awareness and fight injustice and medical practices that do more harm than good. Let’s continue to share our hopes, our dreams for a society that has no stigma and a world that believes in mental wellness for all.

If you or a loved one need support right now, you can reach National Suicide Prevention Lifeline by calling: 1-800-273-8255. 

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.

No More Martyrs and Clack Associates Unite for Mental Wellness

I mentioned in an older post that while I believe technology is the way of the future for mental health, I am a strong advocate for talk therapy and support groups. So when both are leveraged, I’m super excited about the possibilities…

Technology, namely social media platforms, have created digital bridges to connect advocates, activists, and professionals from around the world. I love that we can take what starts as a conversation online, through a simple Tweet, LinkedIn message, Snap, or Facebook message, and turn it into in-person endeavors while still being able to transcend the limitations of personal one to one touch.

One of those connections came about between Nadia M. Richardson, PhD the founder of the mental health awareness movement called No More Martyrs and Angela Clack, PsyD of Clack Associates.

Both Dr. Clack and Dr. Richardson were committed to building a community of support for black women with mental health concerns and decided to unite their unique super powers together to bring to life Dr. Clack’s desire to see more tailored mental health support for women of color in southern New Jersey coupled with Dr. Richardson’s vision of organized and structured Meetups beyond the confides of her region.

dr.clacksistersupportmeetup

One reason I like the concept of a meet up is because I understand that support groups sometimes turn people off, therefore meet ups are more accessible.  For example, while well-known support groups like AA garner the participation of many people, a new wave of contemporaries are exploring and developing alternative approaches for ongoing wellness outside the philosophy that one is always in a recovery cycle.

But what I like most about this concept is that this meet up isn’t entirely a peer-run group nor is it exactly group counseling. The meet up is more a FREE resource and an opportunity to break bread, enjoy engaging activities, and connect with women who may wish to share their unique experiences to encourage their fellow sisters. The meet up would have both a mental health peer specialist and licensed mental health professional present to make sure valuable resources and information are available.

I was most honored when Dr. Clack invited me to come on-board this outreach as the co-facilitating peer specialist for the NJ branch of the Meetup.  I am currently pursuing my certification so that I can bring my best to the role in our unified efforts to make mental wellness more accessible and fun for women of color.

Our first monthly meet up is this Thursday, January 19th. And being that I am an introvert, it’s going to be introvert friendly 😉 Hope to see you there if you’re in the area!

*Update* We meet every 3rd Thursday of the month please email clackassociates2005@gmail.com to RSVP*

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.

Suicide Prevention where Money and Mental Health Issues Collide

suicidepreventionawareness-badge

One of the main reasons I was motivated to begin working on my book (still in the works) is that I wanted to advocate for mental wellness amongst women in business so to prevent further entrepreneur suicides. Whenever I thought about business owners, CEO’s and entrepreneurs I will be the 1st to admit I assumed “go-getter”, “super strong”, “ultra productive”, and “has it all together”. That was until I became a business owner myself. I quickly learned that 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 included mental health issues. So while yes, we can be (and are) most of those descriptions (I don’t think anyone has it ALL together) we could also be depressed, experience chronic disease, have anxiety, addictive behaviors etc. And I wanted to better understand why.

One of the categories of ‘why’ I plan to explore more of in the book was revisited after recently accompanying my awesome client, Amanda Abella to FinCon 2016. When we hear of people in business bearing the load of money problems, and money mindset issues we typically hear about business failure. As a result, resources like Business Development Centers formed to offer support. There are also women like Melinda Emerson who dedicated Foundations to igniting a movement to end small business failure. What I don’t find too often however, are open and candid discussions about how money problems in business could also play a huge role in suicidal ideation and attempted suicide.

I was originally going to touch on this category very briefly only because I wanted to focus on the “why” of entrepreneurs who had great financial success yet still battled mental health disorders, but I’ve since been convinced otherwise.

After Michelle Jackson coaxed me out of my comfort zone by offering me an opportunity to live podcast right alongside herself and a panel of amazing women thought leaders, I was able to talk about my mental health advocacy work. As a result, I met some other awesome “money nerds” who happened to also be mental health advocates. FinCon panel

Through fellow panelist Kate Dore’s blog post I learned more about The Link Between Mental Illness and Money Problems and was introduced to an organization called Money and Mental Health Policy Institute. According to their research, if you have had a “major financial crisis” within the past six months, you are nearly eight times more likely to experience suicidal thoughts. I imagine a Startup Founder who has literally given their blood, sweat, tears, and very last dollar in the hopes of getting noticed by an investor experiences financial crisis more often than not until they “make it”. I know from personal experience that my own company, A & D Media was formed with less than $200 and dream which was pretty much the last bit of money in our pockets.

I then learned that Kate’s post was in collaboration with Melanie Lockert of Dear Debt who encouraged colleagues to join the blog tour project for World Suicide Prevention Day which was September 10th. While the date for this year has come and gone, all of September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month.

I applaud these women for stepping up to publicly advocate for mental health and suicide prevention on their professional business blogs. In the business and entrepreneurial world there is huge stigma around mental illness and illness in general. I feel this is even more pronounced for microbusiness owners such as virtual service providers who have to constantly battle for workplace wellness fairness. I plan to link up with these two lovelies and a few others awesome ladies I met at FinCon to better explore the money/mental health correlation for my upcoming book set to publish during mental health month in 2017.

If you or someone you know is contemplating Suicide and/or in an emergency, call The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or call 911 immediately.

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.