“Protecting your Mind”- Caring for your Mental Health.
Protecting your sanity requires intentionality and effort. There is a negative stigma associated with caring for your “mental health.” Even saying the words mental health, mental health specialist, therapist, or depression can immediately make the air thick and uncomfortable for those who are not accustomed to acknowledging the state of their mental health. Instead of calling someone crazy, why not offer support and resources out of love and not pity?
Seeking Help is Showing Strength
If you are overweight or obese, then it is “normal” for society to recommend you eat a healthier diet and exercise regularly to enhance your physique and increase your well being. If you are searching for spiritual fulfillment, then society suggests going to church or finding solace in a retreat.
If you have a physical ailment like a cavity caused by tooth decay, once again, society recommends seeking professional help from a dentist.
However, if you are feeling symptoms of depression, anxiety, overwhelmed by stress or suffer from the side effects of mental illness or PTSD, then many will comfortably recommend that you “be strong” or “keep it together.” And please, don’t take it a step further to see a therapist or a mental health professional to help resolve and cope with your issues because then you are labeled a nut case.
When our loved ones say, “I need to see a therapist” or “I need help, I need someone to talk to,” we immediately question their mental capacity or give them the crazy eyes when they aren’t looking. We ostracize individuals for admitting they need help. Why is that? Sending that message is petty and irresponsible. We should not recommend that someone who needs help, internalize or ignore their pain.
We have to support those we love. Whether it is a parent overwhelmed with a home/work balance and struggling to manage their household, a young person who has experienced trauma or abuse growing up and they were encouraged to “just get over it” or even a professional athlete overwhelmed by the demanding nature of their career. We have to stop sending the message of “it is just a stage” and “be strong.”
Depression is the persistent feeling of sadness or loss of interest that can lead to a range of behavioral and physical symptoms. These may include changes in sleep, appetite, energy level, concentration, daily behavior, mood, or self-esteem. According to the World Health Organization, over 350 million people worldwide suffer from depression and this disease occurs more common than people think. All depression types are not the same and there are many obstacles in life that can trigger depression.
I struggled with depression in high school, college, and throughout my early twenties. This shows that our issues, if unhandled or unaddressed, will not just magically disappear. Instead as we age and progress in life, they resurface and manifest themselves into other areas of our lives. These issues can impede our confidence level, interaction with colleagues and business associates, impact how we handle stress and how we interact with our family members.
The Power of Therapy
There is a resource! When something traumatic or devastating happens to a family, seeking professional help is crucial for recovery and coping. Participating in therapy changed my life for the better. As an advocate for this essential practice, my husband and I have engaged in couples therapy as well as engaged in individual therapy. It has helped heal many of the wounds of life, enabled us to understand our triggers, and understand how to communicate with one another effectively.
After a recent sit down with Morgan Corbitt, an Indianapolis native, Spelman College graduate, Adler University student, a world traveler, and soon to be Mrs. J.T. Thomas. I quickly learned that this kind-hearted, gorgeous, educated queen radiates warmth and love in her spirit. She aspires to become a Clinical Psychologist as she is currently a Candidate of Doctorate in Clinical Psychology (2019) and is committed to helping individuals practice healthy mental health habits.
Morgan and I both have a passion for communities of color and the long-term impact that unresolved stress, anxiety, and chronic depression has on our community. As educated African-American women, we understand first hand how our society can ostracize individuals dealing with mental health issues. We are told to be pillars of strength and pray away problems that may cause us to question our sanity. I’m excited to be able to share Morgan’s knowledge and expertise with you. I am proud to have a woman of her credentials share about a topic that she is passionate (bonus, the woman IS brilliant!) so we sat down to chat about this and much more.
DS: What made you focus on mental health and helping others who struggle with mental health disorders/diseases?
MC: I have always been super connected to my feelings and emotions. I’m fascinated with the different ways people behave, think, and view the world around them. I chose to focus on mental health to gain more understanding. I’ve learned how to understand myself better, and I can view people and situations with the understanding that goes beyond the surface. I love what I do. It’s only by God’s grace that I have been able to recognize His purpose in my life to serve others through mental health work.
DS: What inspired you to open a private practice and what is your overall approach to mental health care?
MC: My fiancé JT has 100% influenced my entrepreneurial spirit. He got his MBA about a year ago, and I was motivated by his commitment to doing so while he was actively playing. I learn from listening to him discussing business. After awhile I said, “ok I’m going to do it too.” I’m going to be a doctor and entrepreneur because I can do both.
DS: What advice would you give any young women aspiring to obtain their doctorate in clinical psychology?
MC: I would say be steadfast. Never doubt yourself along your journey and continually reach out for help when you need it. Find someone who can pour into you and make you feel supported when it gets tough. This career path takes a lot out of you emotionally and personally, so it’s vital to secure support.
STOPPING THE CYCLE OF UNNECESSARY STRESS
One of the primary triggers for depression is stress. This may stem from a variety of factors. Relationships, careers, school, our genetics or a traumatic situation can all trigger us and managing stress can sometimes require intentional practices. Stress combined with hormone imbalance is honestly one of the most common barriers when it comes to our metabolism — it has a significant impact on how we feel and function.
Resources for finding a therapist in your area:
Dominique & Morgan’s methods for handling stress and protecting your sanity:
1. POSITIVE RELATIONSHIPS - Create relationships with individuals that bring out the best in you. Make sure those in your close circle love and support you and your dreams.
2. GET OUTSIDE - Sunshine is great for the soul and can work wonders on our mood. Make an intentional effort to get outside and enjoy the vitamin D that the sun provides. If your workplace is restricted to indoor fluorescent lighting, try to take frequent breaks that position you closer to a well-lit area with natural sunlight. If you are a stay at home parent with young children, schedule daily walks or playtime sessions outside. If you live in an area with minimal sunlight, consider adding a vitamin D supplement.
3. SPEAK LIFE - The power of life and death is in the tongue. Positive affirmation is EVERYTHING and we must speak highly of ourselves and others. Love yourself, speak life into your situation. Loving yourself is essential to properly love others.
4. MEDITATE AND FOCUS ON YOUR INNER PEACE - Meditation is the key to inner peace and overall health and there is tremendous power in an active meditation routine. Being in tune with your mind and calming your thoughts is essential. Meditation can help us experience greater tranquility and find a sense of wholeness as we face our fears. Meditation helps sharpen focus, lower blood pressure, and reduce chronic pain. Clearing out the daily noise allows you to hone your focus on what matters and express gratitude for the moment. Create a “zen den” which is an area in your home or office that triggers immediate relaxation that allows you to sit still and meditate.
5. YOGA - “When God has so magnificently and artistically created this body, it only fits that we should maintain it in good health and harmony by the most excellent and artistic science of yoga”-Geeta Iyengar. Yoga is not only mentally challenging but, physically challenging as well. As a certified yoga instructor, I always try to create spaces in my class that allows people to be. Be happy, be sad, be frustrated, be angry, be at peace and through this open space of existence-we can meet life where we are on our mats. You do not have to be an expert or even good at yoga to practice it, but you need to be open to grow mentally, physically and spiritually on your mat.
6. PERSPECTIVE - Perspective is vital to success. Sometimes if we focus on the opposite of a negative thought then we are able to thrive. Anger - positive energy, Sadness - joy, Doubt - peace, Insecurity - confidence, Instability - balance, Betrayal - truth, Indifference - compassion, Constraint - freedom, Emptiness - fulfillment, Loneliness - community
To contact Morgan Corbitt directly:
Editor: Joy Davis