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#ChooseJOY

Happy Mind Starts with Mental Health

dakotah carter

So, lets just start with the fact that my name is Kody and I’m not always okay. No matter how much I self reflect, how many times I meditate, and journal (on an inconsistent basis) somethings are just deeper, and I'm up to the top of my head with emotions that some times I just cant understand. 

And then I realized, I need to see a therapist. 

Therapy has such a negative connotation and in the black community it might as well be a sin to speak on therapy. When in reality we have been conditioned to believe that we are always supposed to be okay, and to keep it to ourselves. 

I believe the biggest problem of all is a lack of knowledge. Mental health isn’t being sick, or being mentally ill, but it is a person’s condition with regard to their psychological and emotional well-being. Meaning, to make sure that a person is literally okay and not just saying it. 

 via GIPHY

via GIPHY

Mental health issues in the black community range from slavery and socioeconomic status to distrust and misdiagnosis from the post traumatic slavery disorder to the inadequate treatment and lack of cultural competence by health care professionals. In turn, all of these factors makes us believe that we cannot go to anyone about these concerns or challenges and the issue with this is that it conditions you to believe that you are okay and you don’t know when you are not okay. 

 via GIPHY

via GIPHY

Often times, people turn to God and fail to realize that people are heaven sent, so speaking with a therapist may actually be extremely beneficial. 

Another reason people often stray from Therapy is because of simple denial. Have you ever heard the phrase “you can’t help someone who doesn’t want to help themselves”? Well yea, it’s right there. If you are not ready to understand, you wont understand.

Fear also has a way of really getting in the way of accomplishing anything. Fear kills more than doubt. If you are afraid to commit to the healing process because of what you may have to uncover, you just simply won’t uncover. A lot of people fear being judged by their peers as well, due to the fact that the black community doesn't know how to address, or deal with mental health. 

 via Insecure HBO

via Insecure HBO

Just Remember: Therapy is the process of healing. It's meeting with a professional to resolve problematic behaviors, beliefs, feelings, relationship issues and/or somatic responses or sensations in the body. 

5 Times I Chose Joy To Help Get Me Through My Depression

Morgan Daniels

"If you are looking for joy, I am that joy [even if I have depression]." This is a phrase that I learned while I was in Cuba.

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1. When I found out that I had depression.

That whole day was weird. It was spring break of my ninth grade year and my parents told me that we were going somewhere “fun.” Our definitions of fun must have been completely different because next thing I knew I was at my first session with a psychologist.

I remember being so confused and ashamed to even be there. Then, to make matters worse, she said, “You has depression,” at the end of the session. I felt like my life was over. I felt ashamed, confused and even more alone than before.

As she began to share with my parents all of the medicines I could be put on I just wanted to cry. I mean it all made sense but apart of me wanted it to be anything but this. That night I wrote. I wrote twenty-four reasons why I should choose joy and not allow my diagnosis to be who I am entirely. I wrote to remind myself I am more than depression.

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2. When I was bullied.

I was bullied a lot in grade school. It was always something: pulling my hair, my acne (calling me polka-dot), he said she said, etc. However, there was one specific time in grade school where the wordstruly hurt me.

It was in my eleventh grade year and I ran varsity track. We did not have any female coaches but the girls I ran with wanted to have a meeting. During the meeting, they asked me not to smile anymore because just because I was happy doesn’t mean that they were happy as well.

I remember thinking, “how come when I am myself I am always asked to change.” I know this may be small but for me it was one of the final straws. I remember going home that evening my uncle said, “Morgan, you are special don’t let people change you.” Those words not only brought me joy, they saved me from myself.

 Graphic by Imani Anderson

Graphic by Imani Anderson

3. When I did not want to do “this” anymore.

I have been suicidal before, however, told myself that i’d never do it because of my little brother. He has always been my light and my life. When I look at him I see a reason to keep living. However, one night I felt the need to leave this world as I was in a really dark place.

So I google searched, “how to end your life.” What came up after changed my life. It was a message saying, “You are worth living, do not do this.” I thought that I was dreaming when I first saw this but it wasn’t a dream it was a reminder.

In that moment, I realized I can do this. A few years later I looked on google to see if I could see the same message but instead it gives you resources to call to help you through. Thank you google for being a serious tool.

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4. When I didn’t get the job.

Circa Summer 2015, I was going through it. Everything that I felt could go wrong, did. My grandfather had just past away, my best friend and I were not on speaking terms; it was awful. However, I found this huge ambassador job that would have shifted my college experience.

There were several rounds to go through before being selected and I had thankfully made it to the last one. I had an interview that Friday and prepared all week. Then, the day of the interview no one showed up on the skype. I was devastated. I remember thinking, “How can I make the impact I want to make without this job?” I never heard back from them. I was disappointed.

Then, I began to see my own organization, JOYDAY, begin to grow. I was able to make the impact that I wanted to make with that company but with something that I created. Not only did I make lemonade out of lemons, I began to bring mental health awareness and joy to others as well as myself. I think not getting the job or a hear back eventually allowed me to see a lot of joy. It is funny how things come full circle.

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5. When I got my heartbroken, for the second time.

I’ve only had two ex-boyfriends in my entire twenty-two years life. Both broke my heart into a thousand pieces that took forever to place back together. The first guy broke my heart which hurt but not like the second one. The second one I could actually see sharing my life with so when I found out that he did not love me anymore it really hurt.

I did not eat, I did not sleep, and I did not want to do anything anymore. The things that used to bring me joy just didn’t work anymore. Then, I could not even talk to my best friend about it because he was my best friend. I had it bad. I remember one day being at his house and us arguing. He said, “You are one of the smartest girls that I know. You always talk about self-care and protecting your peace. Do it.” For some reason, that stuck with me.

That night I wrote down twenty-four reasons why I should choose joy like I did when I first found out that I had depression. Soon after, I started going to the parks/trails. Then, through my heartbreak, I was able to find my healing. The pain I once felt had subsided and once again I was joy.

Small Joys? Yes, They Still Count.

Heather J

I'm beginning to choose JOY more and more on a daily basis, regardless of how big or small. 

I'm often asked if I'm an early bird or a night owl, needless to say, I'm both! I pride myself on being a very courageous and spontaneous person with high energy but I also find myself in self-doubt or pointing out what went wrong instead of what went right. Choosing optimism and gratitude were two incredibly goals I set for myself within the past couple of months and let's just say I often forget to practice gratitude and I sometimes do cry over spilled milk. 

This past week I've indulged in my fair share of podcasts, books and I caught up on Being Mary Jane & Insecure, that's where I sought peace and refuge during a challenging week. I enjoy Mondays, but oddly enough it was a bit rockier than most Mondays. Following Monday, I had been hit with challenge after challenge; a walking nightmare. There were multiple opportunities for me to break, but I can thank this thing called "growth" and say that I fought the battle and made it through without breaking. 

 Photo by GIPHY

Photo by GIPHY

Do you ever turn around and ask yourself whether your're doing everything wrong? Or maybe even absolutely right? I do. Self-doubt is a killer, I'll tell you.

About 2 weeks about I submitted a writing piece, a piece in which I was truly proud of but for some reason I kept thinking: "This isn't going to get accepted, this isn't what readers want, this is my personal story no one else is interested." I went ahead and submitted my writing piece to the organization and sat at my desk and I wasn't proud, I was just in the moment. Immediately following, I came across a submission opportunity for conference proposals for young professionals; not only did my short-term goal list pop into my head but the thought: "You can't present to New Professionals, what do you know?" came into my mind.  5 minutes later, I submitted a proposal on self-care, mindfulness and the quality of life, a subject matter I am truly passionate about but would others be?

Last week when I was hit with challenge after challenge, battling fatigue and trying to stay afloat I had been reminded of the small joys, the small victories. Anxiety visits me quit frequently and as I've been preparing for the tail end of a hurricane, I could only think about the small steps I had taken two week prior. Thursday afternoon I had received two e-mails within an hour of one another in regards to my writing being accepted and published & my conference proposal being accepted. In the midst of angry tears and a deep breath, something whispered: "Hold on, your joy is coming." 

 Photo by GIPHY

Photo by GIPHY

By Friday, my perspective had changed. I could celebrate small joys and accomplishments in the midst of big challenges. I smiled. 

When we choose to focus on joy, regardless of how big or small we flourish. When we choose to celebrate ourselves and allow ourselves grace to accomplish small things we can manifest positive things in our mind. 

I choose JOY because I realize that sometimes others can see you better than you see yourself and accomplishments and opportunities will remind you of that. 

Choose JOY. 

Second Hand

Martine Beauvais

 Photo by Tenor

Photo by Tenor

He came to her in the night;

& while faithful in his familiarity,

he never quite kept her warm.

With him she was well acquainted;

as acquainted as her lungs with air or her veins to live blood.

He slept next to her every night and although he was her familiar;

She could never become acquainted with his emptiness.

The elusive promise of his companionship never failed to disappoint her.

And in some dysfunctional way, this disappointment became the familiar thing

in which she scavenged for shelter.

But how long until it became too little and no longer enough?

How long until their familiarity with one another became an excuse for barbed words and venomous glances?

How much longer would their infatuation breathe before it came to its inevitable end?

 It was an intimate battle with which she was familiar.

The time to spar came like the setting sun;

Just when she thought she was safe from her past and could find rest.

The only familiar thing she knew during these hours was a lie relived;

a love, secondhand.

The Choice Is Yours

Sydney Wingate

"You're like 9 to 5, I'm the weekend."

This.

This is the line that shook my nerves, sent my heart to the pit of my stomach and caused me to, once again, experience emotions I am constantly trying to wash away.

Why you ask? Because.. I've been the 9 to 5, not knowing there was "The Weekend" to even worry about. Choosing people who choose you is one of the hardest, gut-wrenching and eye-opening things we can experience. It's raw. It's rough. And rarely done without losing someone who once meant something to you.

 Photo by GIPHY

Photo by GIPHY

However,

Never forget that you're an option to select when choosing.

Often times, we can get lost in seeing all of someone else and none of ourselves. Before we know it, there's a world consumed and surrounded by them and you don't even exist in it. 

Whether it's a relationship, friendship, obligations or simple commitments, it is best to remember that you are one person, deserving of love, support, care and respect on a 50/50 level. 

Nothing more, nothing less. 

As scary as it seems, reevaluating the individuals in your life is a must. Everyone isn't for you and that is okay. Realizing this is the hard part. But, once the light-bulb flicks on, there's no turning it off. 

 Photo by Sza

Photo by Sza

You begin to realize your worth, see people for who they are rather than what you want them to be and prioritize those that  truly matter and contribute to your well-being. 

Yes, you'll lose essential connections.

Yes, you'll have to find comfort in distance.

But, yes you will be choosing you and that's what matters. 

Relationships, friendships and commitments should not be draining, poisonous or questionably unwavering. If you find yourself in a one-sided connection, stop choosing someone who isn't choosing you. Remember that it is okay to put yourself first and the right people will gravitate towards you in time.

If you have to force it, it isn't real and if the feelings are mutual, the effort will be equal.

At the end of the day, you always have a choice and never let anyone or anything have you think differently. Choosing you is essential to establishing a solid foundation for the state of your mental health, so don't fight It when the opportunity presents itself.

 Photo by Tenor

Photo by Tenor

As Alex Elle simply puts it:

Read books that fill you.

Listen to music that moves you.

Keep company that uplifts you.

Engage in positive self-talk.

Be your best self.