On Taking Care of Your Mental Health and Avoiding Depression

A [social media] acquaintance of my brother is going through a very rough phase of depression and suicidal thoughts, which then brought about our discussion of mental health and depression. Certain matters came up and then I decided to blog about it. Mental health is VERY important. Do not take it lightly. More so, since the current rate of suicides among young folks is becoming alarming. Anyway, here goes a list of things that can help with your mental health:

1.) Seek Help. First things first. If you have physical pains, say in your stomach or your head, you would go to the doctor or find some way to address it, right? Well the same goes for your mental health. You need to seek help somehow. Once you have constant depressive episodes and/or thoughts of suicide, it is imperative to seek help. Talk to someone: maybe family, a trusted friend, or seek the help of a professional. Some people spent a chunk of their adult years in school studying and learning this stuff. They have been trained to help you; to evaluate your lifestyle to determine causes of and kinds of depression; and if necessary prescribe medication for you. Therapists/counselors are everywhere. Use their services. And if you can't afford it, then another suggestion is to look to religious leaders. You don't even have to believe. What we say in my church is "you can belong before you believe". Just seek help somehow if what you're experiencing is too much for you to handle. If you are worried about the stigma (and thankfully people are less critical these days), but you don't have to tell everyone you are going to a therapist. Your therapist would also be bound by ethics to not reveal it to anyone.



2a.) Guard your heart. This is crucial. Everyone is woke these days and that's a good thing. The problem is an overload of information. So on a regular day on social media, people are hashtagging something, or protesting something, or crying about famine and human trafficking, or insulting donald, or racism or colorism, or bigotry. SOMETHING is always happening. Now if you are very sensitive, it's bound to affect you somehow. The helplessness in all of it alone can send you into a spiral of depression. The bitterness and vitriol. The anger. It can be exhausting and overwhelming. TUNE out. Yes, unfollow. Unsubscribe. Do what you can to protect yourself. Now at first, you will feel guilty about that because these activists and woke people are doing the Lord's work by crying out against injustice. But you also need to look out for you.

"Being woke is not an excuse to walk in lovelessness"- Preston Perry

There is only so much you can do. Also you can  NOT change the world. I don't care who you are; nobody can.  So unfollow and get yourself some peace. I'm not saying be quiet about injustice. I'm saying move at your own pace. Protest and resist your own way. The very interesting fact about the world we live in is despite everything going on, this is the most peaceful the world has been in most of history. Yes. Our ancestors were worse than us.  If you feel helpless, then volunteer in your local community. Or just give [no matter how little] to a local charity doing what tugs your heart the most. You'd be surprised how much that can help.

2b) Based on 2a above, study your triggers. How does it start? What is that thing that constantly makes you downcast, and brings heaviness to your heart? Does sexual violence bother you. Then maybe don't watch Game of Thrones. Maybe don't watch Law and Order SVU. Maybe the thought of slavery angers you so much, you can almost feel the anger physically. Then don't follow the producers that have decided to create a new show based on an alternate world where slavery still exists. I did not make that up. I digress. There are lighthearted options. Modern Family, How I Met Your Mother etc. would make you laugh so hard, you'd forget all of life's problems. Whatever you do, guard your heart FIERCELY.  Make sure you maintain your atmosphere.

3.) Try not to always live in your feelings. Your feelings don't own you. You own them. You will often feel sad, discouraged, angry... Don't dwell on them. Don't succumb to them. Speak what's real unto your life. Speak what God has said unto your life. Talk to your soul, to yourself.
Speak faith. Speak love. Speak assurance. Most especially, remind yourself of God's goodness and greatness. You will be constantly tempted to drown in your pool of emotions. Try to resist that temptation. I'm not so naive as to think everyone is a Christian. So even if you are not a Christian, you can still speak positivity into your life. Scientific research has proven how much that works. This obviously does not come easily. But so many things in life don't, and so far you have managed to achieve some of them despite the terrible odds. I'm a cynic by nature and a little bit of a pessimist myself. But I'm also a Christian. A while ago, I had to pick which one to surrender to. You guessed right. I chose to believe Jesus.

4.) This too will pass. My favorite. To be completely fair, there are some tough life situations that won't actually pass, but can be managed. However, MANY things including but not limited to [romantic] heartbreaks ALWAYS pass. Please and please and please, do not give any human so much power over you that their breaking up with you harms your mental health. I promise you, no human being is worth that much. You will be fine. There are literally millions of human beings; you will find another love.

Finally, God isn't afraid of our feelings so go ahead and tell Him how you feel. Also try to take care of your body. The physical can sometimes help the emotional. Eat well, exercise, avoid stress if you can. Immerse yourself in a community of solid friendships and relationships.  Like I always say we have an extraordinary amount of resilience in us, and we are built to weather through storms and survive. We will be okay.

Love,

I

P.S: here are helpful things to do when the waiting period seems like it's going to last forever.

Friday Reflections

1.) Please read this on why judging the poor is faulty logically. If you read carefully, you will also learn how one can do everything right but still get it wrong.

2.) When you hate political drama, but also love it. Lol. American politics is devolving. I guess we have to praise the Democrats and three Republicans who were able to save lives by voting no on repealing Obamacare

3.) Summer is really not going as planned but I'm still thankful. Plus remember this advice on what to do when things don't go as planned?

4.) I shared on Instagram that I watched this and  learnt a whole lot about the will of God. I learnt how sometimes the will of God doesn't look "pleasant". In fact the wilderness you are in might be the will of God.

5.) Follow me on Instagram. I have always wanted a space on social media to share short inspirational and motivational messages, so I created one.

6.) I can't believe (just kidding, I actually can) the president of these United States went on National T.V to encourage brutality against "gang member". Wow.

7.) American like to believe they are superior to everybody else. This is a lie. Even the very institutions that has always prevented from sinking low is now being threatened.

8.) People love a sob story, and more than anything, people love being the "savior".

9.) I am fit fam until I get a hold of Haagen Dazs.

10.) Another phase is over.

11.) Do you think guys sometimes propose because the relationship got boring and they needed something interesting/worthy of hype? I do.


Friday Reflections

1.) An open letter to clergy who prayed with Trump.

2.) A girl and a woman 58 years apart talk about life.

3.)  So did a man and a boy 57 years apart. Quite interesting.

4.) People who are trying and working hard to change the world don't spend all their time talking and tweeting about it, they just do.

5.) My girl, Mindy  Kaling is pregnant with her first child!!!

6.) Can you imagine your close friend being pregnant and you don't know who the father of her child is though? I mean, that's basically not friendship haha

7.) Did you see this practical advice on what to do while you are waiting for that big thing?

8.) Ugh I'm so sorry about Chester Bennington. I really didn't know him that well, but lots of people were very bugged down by it.

9.) Depression is very complex and multifaceted. BUT it can be dealt with. I really hope and pray people struggling can find something, someone to life them from the pit-hole.

10.) Even I don't have an explanation, but I know an answer: Jesus, the calm in the storm.

On Practical Things To Do When The Waiting Period Seems To Last Forever

Hello people!

*Try to flip hair*

*Realize that hair is too kinky and crack neck in the process*

Re do.

Hello people!

*pats hair*

That's better.

Hahaha

Seriously now. I think I should have done this a little bit earlier. But actually, it's the right time. I suppose many graduates are home now; doing the waiting game. Waiting to hear back from places you applied to. Or maybe not graduates; maybe just regular people. Maybe things are not going as you planned, which is 99% of the time in life. Seriously, the earlier everyone accepts that life rarely goes as planned, the better for everyone. So yes, you had planned the perfect summer, you had planned the perfect year, indeed you had planned the perfect life, but it's not working. Or nothing is happening right now. What do you do while you wait? How do you maximize the time? Here are a couple of suggestions.



1.) Pray: when I say pray, I don't necessarily mean badger God for that exact plan/thing you envisaged. That's not exactly a bad thing. But the essence of prayer here is to learn to relinquish your plans for God's plans. A lot of times our fixation on perfection and our own plans prevents us from noticing progress or even enjoying the present. This is what praying and seeking God helps you do. Also it helps with peace of mind and an ability to trust God. So spend time with God, getting to know more about God, listening to preachers who share God's word, and learning to have a discerning spirit, which of course you would need further down the line.


2.) Shut down social media and build your mental strength: This varies. Social media is fun. But it also can be very, very toxic. All hail the mother devil, Instagram. While you are going through a tough time, it's not especially the ideal time to watch people pretend to be living their best lives on social media. So you might need time away to clear your head. You might also need time away to keep you from bouts of envy. I mean, imagine just breaking up with the love of your life only to see everyone getting engaged or those gorgeous but flamboyant pregnancy shoots. Yeah, no. Or imagine being jobless and then logging on to see your old schoolmates bag the job of YOUR dreams, and seeing them travel the world. It's never easy, even for the best of us. At that moment, we are never logical enough to think that everyone puts their best foot forward on social media, and the pictures you see are only snapshots and peeks into perhaps, otherwise turbulent lives. That being said, it's important to become mentally strong, because you will need it in life. So learn to stop comparing your life with others; learn to stop throwing a pity party for yourself; learn to understand that sometimes things are bad, other times they are good. Indeed people's lives may be as perfect as they portray and no matter how much you convince yourself its all a facade, it really isn't. So until you learn true contentment, just stay off social media. Or keep it, and build your mental strength.

3.) Journal: maybe it sounds mushy mushy, but it helps. It helps you to think. It helps you glean from God/holyspirit/introspectiveness on what is next and how you want to move forward. You would also be able to look back and see how far God has brought you. And best of all, it's therapeutic to describe exactly how you feel. Knowing how you feel also helps with dealing with it.

4.)Open your eyes to see what lessons God has for you: this is sort of a piggyback to the last point. But every season/situation/problem most likely has a lesson for you in it. Sometimes they are not very glaring, but there are lessons. Is it a test in patience? Or in preparation? Or in hard-work? Or to get you ready for a completely different phase of life?

5.) Learn/Explore/Do something different: we all have that one thing we have always wanted to do or learn. Do it now. I'm not going to give some silly, elitist advice like travel the world or work for free or go skydiving. No. If you can't afford it, don't bother your head. But there are things you can do: learn a language? read a book? learn to code? re-read a book? write a book? learn graphic design? Maybe that concept you were taught but never really grasped because were too busy? Well, there is time now. YouTube is filled with [free] resources. The internet is filled with tons of resources. Allow for fun too; yes binge watch your favorite shows or do whatever your definition of fun is.

6.) Create a new vision: Unfortunately, it would be a lie if I said everything always works out perfectly. It doesn't. Sometimes your biggest plans fail. Sometimes you will not get that job, sorry. But is that the end? No. Re group. Someone asked TD Jakes how to continue life/cope after her divorce, because she felt like her life was over. His response was profound:

"What makes you feel like you have lost your life is that you have lost what you had in mind for your life. Which means you need a  new vision for yourself; one that does not include someone that no longer chooses to be a part of your life."

I feel like you can apply this to almost anything. Create a new vision, a new dream, something completely different if the prior plan has failed. Things and plans and even people fail. That's okay too.

One last thing is to learn to live beyond your feelings. Please, this can't be overemphasized. We can't be consumed by our feelings all the time; it's so fleeting. Our feelings should have no control over us. I have to write an entire thing on this. The root of most problems is dwelling in our feelings AND letting it conquer us. Anyway, I digress.

This is way longer than I thought, but I hope it helps someone out there going through a waiting period that seems to be lasting forever. This, too shall pass. It usually always does.


Love,

I

Friday Reflections

1.)This Hell Not Mine: On Moving from Nigeria to America.

2.) See this outstanding and profound essay on the place of dance in the midst of pain, depression, and powerlessness.

3.) I'm constantly learning and re-learning to be my own person.

4.) Contentment or complacency?

5.) On the power of prayer especially in tough seasons.

6.) Stop searching for your passion. "You don't follow your passion, your passion follows you."

7.) How is it that we (as human beings) can hammer on for years about a tragedy or misfortune, but are conspicuously quiet about triumphs? Quite interesting.

8.) This "sliding into DMs" business. Please slide out of my DMs and back to your lane.

9.) Nigerian [young] women are getting increasingly progressive, whereas the [young] men have refused to leave the 18th century.

10.) First responders are real-life, everyday heroes. I just watched Sully :)

11.) "The dating pool becomes much smaller when you refuse to compromise on misogyny & bigotry." This is a real tragedy. And what stinks is how prevalent misogyny is even among VERY well educated guys; I just don't get it.

12.) I can't believe it's 10 years since we finished from QC (my secondary/high school). For all of its problems, that school gave me the gift of lifelong friends and countless memories.



On Failure

This one is easy in the sense that most people have experienced it at one point or another. But how have you let it impact you? Has it paralyzed you? In that, has a fear of failure hindered you from making great strides? Or has failure given you a bold audacity to thrive? Because it has been both for me. Failure has paralyzed me and it also has inspired me. I think it's usually more of the latter these days, and I'm grateful to God for that.


The thing with failure is we all need it. It's humbling, but more than that it's eye opening if you maximize it well. There are also different kinds of failure. There is the failure that occurs because you didn't try. But then there is the failure that happens even after doing everything you can; everything within your capabilities; making all the best plans; praying with all your might; and then still fail. That's really the kind I'm addressing. Despite the pain and shock and feelings of inadequacy that might accompany failure, you must never let that conquer you.




So when I saw the above picture, I smiled. I smiled because it felt familiar. I am in NO WAY comparing myself to the great Michael Jordan. Ha, no. I'm saying I know what it means to fail, to be rejected (literally in every sense of this word), and to keep trying. There is a kind of freedom that comes with having no fear of failure. There is, to use the word above, an audacity it equips you with. I have failed so much that I don't think I am scared of failing anymore and that feels good. Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying failure has no impact on me or that I still don't feel the sting that comes from every "NO" or every silence. Of course I do. Haha. I'm saying it can't stop me from trying again. When asked how she was able to build the multi million Naira brand that is EbonyLife TV and Films, Mo Abudu said it was from never relenting.

"It really is a game of numbers." I remember her saying. "Everyone can't say no to you. Eventually someone says yes."

Listen, if that ain't the truth.

To be clear, and I feel like I always have to give a caveat because I would hate to be misleading, and seriously I'm the most cynical person, which means I do not like sweeping, overly vague "encouragements" or cliches. So I must warn you to apply wisdom. This means, if something keeps failing, it's sometimes because you are doing something wrong and should attempt to approach it from another angle. Be flexible in your approach. Let's give the most rudimentary example of failure: an exam. So you took an exam and failed. Re-examine your study methods, evaluate your weak points in the subject and hone in on those. Indeed, ask yourself the importance of this exam in the first place. If it's time problems, take practice tests under time constraints....etc. Don't just keep writing the same exam and failing and think it's just a game of numbers. No please. So you get the drift? Use wisdom, try different approaches, sometimes you might need to abandon it altogether and try something else. But try you must; do not give up. And this can be anything. After all, we fail on many different things in life, don't we? Jobs, exams, businesses, projects, relationships, challenges...whatever, just don't because you already failed once decide to cower. Nope.

Most importantly, your failures don't define you. I personally TRY to do my best, but I also know it’s not a matter of life and death. I think the older I grow, the more I’m able to define my identity. The clearer I’m able to state what defines me. So like I always say, my failures don’t define me. Indeed my successes don’t either. They are parts of the whole me. It's important, I reckon, to know this. It’s probably why I don’t hammer on and on about things I have achieved*. I do what I want and keep it moving.  So I constantly pray that I we are not (or my entire existence is not) hinged on a crippling fear of what if I fail.  What if I can’t? Well, what if I CAN?


Love,

I

*P.S: please know I am not saying to not celebrate achievements and successes. Far from that, in fact celebrating your success helps you better deal with failure. Just don't dwell on them so much, even they begin to paralyze you :)



Friday Reflections

1.) The seduction of pessimism

2.) Oh gosh, I'm watching Confirmation and GOODNESS, I'm infuriated at the injustice Anita Hill went through. Not one Democrat stood up for her while her character was  being assassinated. Eventually Edward Kennedy said something, but only after she had been thoroughly humiliated.

3.) I'm now the person who does yoga when she has a headache instead of taking a painkiller. LOL

4.) Some kids just never stood a chance because of the misfortune of being born by certain parents.

5.) If our lives came with soundtracks, mine would be Morgan Harper Nichols' Storyteller.

6.) This poignant speech by Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts at his son's ninth grade graduation.

7.) Ninth-grade graduation is a thing?

8.) Politicians across the world (YES, even developed countries) spend more time politicking than actually governing. I can't explain how much that irritates me.

9.) How to stop being a doormat.

On Justice and the Kind of Life God Wants

I recently found this gem the other day and thought to share. While it's particularly important for Christians, I also think it's something everyone should consider. So it is from the book of Isaiah in the Bible. Basically, God told the prophet Isaiah to pass on a message to the Israelites. The Israelites always acted very pious, God said. They would go the Temple every day and even seem happy to learn about God. They carried themselves as though they would never abandon God and like they wanted to be near Him. And when there was silence from him, they would protest:

we have fasted!

we have been really hard on ourselves; denied ourselves of life's pleasures just to please you!

why are you NOT impressed, huh?!

why do you act like you don't notice?

Sounds familiar? I bet it does. You are fasting and praying. You serve in Church. You can quote the Bible from Genesis to Revelations. You can preach the devil back to hell. So what's up? Why does God not notice it?


Well that's because while you are fasting, you are exploiting and oppressing your workers. While you are fasting, you are fighting with the whole world, and keeping malice. So you do the rites, and fast for 150 of the 365 days in the year. But God is like, nah, that kind of fasting will get you nowhere. That kind of lifestyle really doesn't please him. What kind of fasting does he want, you ask.


"No, this is the kind of fasting I want:
Free those who are wrongly imprisoned; lighten the burden of those who work for you. Let the oppressed go free,
and remove the chains that bind people. 
Share your food with the hungry, and give shelter to the homeless. Give clothes to those who need them, and do not hide from relatives who need your help." Isaiah 58: 6-7


If you go on in that passage, it continues to say "THEN..." meaning after you do the above will you experience true healing; will your godliness lead you forward; will the glory of God protect you. It is THEN that the Lord will quickly (it specifies) answer your call.  When you feed the hungry, and help those in trouble, your light will shine out.

In other words, less of you and more of others. We can see that justice, mercy, and compassion matter to God a lot. And again, we see that hypocrisy really irritates God. I'll give another instance; this time in the new testament. Jesus was dragging the Pharisees and calling them hypocrites and stuff. And then he mentioned how they do everything right, they were careful to tick all the boxes. They would even tithe the tiniest income they earned. BUT, they would ignore the more important aspects of the law—justice, mercy, and faith. I'm not even kidding, Jesus called those the MORE IMPORTANT [THAN TITHE] aspects of the law. He then reiterated that while tithing was and would always be important, justice, mercy, and faith were more important.




Coincidentally, I was just joking with my dad and sister recently that while no one person can be angry about all injustices, it's important and dare I say, it's our responsibility to care about justice. There has to be something; one thing you care about. Pick that one thing and run with it, in whatever capacity you can. Is it giving the less privileged? Maybe this year instead of another useless birthday photo-shoot, you can instead ask your friends to give on your behalf? Someone on Twitter once suggested calling your local school(board) and asking to offset some lunch debt for kids. Maybe it's your time you can give: to your own family, your friends. Something...just remember God really cares about it.  Also remember you can't just consistently live for yourself and yourself alone.

Love,

I

The Patriotism in the Christian

This is the 290th post on this blog.



Woah.

So far so good. I think?

I like blogging.

I hate uncertainty but you probably already know that. Random facts.

Happy July 4th weekend!

Here's to freedom and to democracy.

So many things are unclear to so many people. Like, what is the essence of Christianity? How am I a good Christian? Who is a good Christian? What are so-called Christian values? How am I supposed to act? So, can I be nationalistic AND Christian?

I am a bit unclear about some of these things too, except the LAST one. You have to pick one. You either hate others/those different from you or you are a Christian. You can't be both. You can't use the pulpit of God IN a church to bully people. You can't use the celebration of July 4/Independence Day to preach a hatred for non-Americans and a disdain for the other. Actually you can, if you want to. You just can't do that AND be a Christian at the same time. You gotta pick one.

"The church is an embassy of heaven, not America. It’s an international family bought and paid for by a Middle Easterner’s blood." - Matt Smethurst.

I'm not saying don't be patriotic. I'm saying what is your patriotism about? A celebration of true freedom and democracy, or a practice of inherent superiority to those who aren't white males. Because it's becoming increasingly hard to differentiate between the two these days. Before you throw in the founding fathers, please just go elsewhere because I don't really care. Bless their souls, but founding fathers of America and any other country were human beings too. I cringe at this idolization of people who came before us as if they could do no wrong. I digress.

But yes, I  felt like sharing that today. Do what you want with it.

Love, and some freedom,

I