“Protecting your Mind”- Caring for your Mental Health.
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. Protecting your sanity requires intentionality and effort. 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, 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.
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 support those we love. We have to stop sending the message of “it is just a stage” and “be strong.” It's evident that seeking professional help IS being strong. Taking care of your mental needs is not only smart, but it is essential to being a well balanced healthy individual. We have to encourage our friends, family members, and acquaintances that may be silently suffering to seek professional help from a mental health specialist.
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. When I was younger, I experienced domestic violence. This had a tremendous impact on me as I grew older and the unresolved baggage from my childhood spilled over into my young adult life and my marriage. I struggled with depression in high school, college, and throughout my early twenties. This shows that our issues, if unhandled or unaddressed, do 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.
Stopping the Cycle of Unnecessary Stress
One of the primary triggers for depression can be stress, which can stem from a variety of factors. Relationships, careers, school, our genetics or a traumatic situation can all trigger stress, and managing stress can sometimes require intentional practices. Stress 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.
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.
When my husband was 11-years old, his then 16-year-old brother passed away suddenly from Leukemia. This was mentally and emotionally devastating to his family and still impacts my husband throughout his life. During tragedy and trauma, family therapy should not only be considered options but, essential components to that chapter of life to help everyone cope and eventually promote healing.
Meet Morgan Corbitt
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 young, educated African American women, we understand first hand how our society can ostracize individuals dealing with mental health issues. Many times in communities of color, we are told to be pillars of strength and pray away problems that may cause us to question our sanity. If our family members admit they attend therapy or see a psychologist, we tend to shun them and hit them with the crazy eyes at family functions. 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.
Dom: What made you focus on mental health and helping others who struggle with mental health disorders/diseases?
Morgan: 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.
Dom: What are your top three ways of coping with stress?
Morgan: I tend to feel stress and anxiety in my body, so one way that I try to relieve some of those negative feelings is by writing in my journal. I just started this about two years ago, and it makes such a significant impact in the way I feel. I get relief from writing down my thoughts and feelings on paper. It’s like I’m sharing them with someone or just taking the burden off of myself by releasing what I feel. Secondly, I use a ton of prayer. I write a lot of my prayers too so I can keep track of how God brings me out of stressful situations. This Helps keep me thankful when I’m not feeling the best. I also go in the Bible and search for verses that are about whatever topic I might be struggling with (loneliness, anger, pride, etc.) and use those as wisdom for how to move forward. Lastly, I enjoy exercising. Sometimes I might need a heavy lifting session to feel some relief from stress. Other days it could be yoga or just a long sit in the sauna/steam room to detox my body.
Dom: What was it like attending and graduating from a prestigious institution like Spelman College? How did the constant exposure to powerful, dynamic women change you as a woman?
Morgan: Attending Spelman was like living in the space of excellence of talented and driven black women. Spelman embodies this unique environment that was incredibly motivating and beneficial to my ambition personally and professionally. After graduating, I felt empowered to make a change in the world and live in my purpose. I also knew the women alongside me were determined to do the same.
Dom: What inspired you to aspire to open a private practice and what is your overall approach to mental health care?
Morgan: My fiancé JT has 100% influenced my entrepreneurial spirit. He got his MBA about a year ago, and I was inspired he did that while actively playing. I feed off of his business vibes and listen a lot to his business talk. After awhile I’m said, “ok I’m going to do it too.” I’m going to be a doctor and entrepreneur because I can do both.
Dom: Speaking of goals and dreams, what is your favorite hobby or downtime activity with your future husband?
Morgan: Traveling. We are both obsessed with new experiences and the way we feel when we get to see something or be somewhere for the first time!
Dom: What advice would you give any young women aspiring to obtain their doctorate in clinical psychology?
Morgan: I would say be steadfast. Never doubt yourself along with your journey and continuously 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.
Dominique & Morgan’s methods for handling stress and protecting your sanity:
Create relationships with individuals that encourage the best in you to manifest. Make sure those in your close circle love and support you and your dreams. Negative Nancy’s and Naseer Nathan’s are a no go to your inner peace and happiness.
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 where you work is restricted to indoor fluorescent lighting, try to take frequent breaks that put you outside or position yourself close 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.
The power of life and death is in the tongue. Positive affirmation is EVERYTHING, and we must speak highly of ourselves. Surprisingly, we can tear ourselves down so much. Take a moment to write down every time you say something negative or mean to yourself. We can speak lies into our lives if we call ourselves dumb, fat, ugly incompetent, etc. So why not use that power to build yourself up? Love yourself, speak life into your situation. Tell yourself that you #rock and that you are doing the best you can. Loving yourself and speaking life into yourself is essential to love others.
Meditation is the key to inner peace and overall health and there is tremendous power in meditating.. The benefits of daily meditation are endless. It can help us defuse stress, experience greater tranquility, find a sense of wholeness, strengthen our relationships and face our fears. Meditation helps sharpen focus, lower blood pressure, and reduce chronic pain. If you need help with starting your daily meditation journey download meditation apps like calm or headspace. Becoming in tune with your mind and calming your thoughts is essential. 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 relax and meditate. Successful meditation is not something you need to be perfect it is just something you need to be present.
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. Practicing yoga was a game changer in providing greater mental clarity and overall peace. There is a misconception in some communities of color about yoga and its benefits. 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. If you are unsure about attending a yoga class, then go with a friend. Morgan has been practicing yoga for 5 years, and her primary motivation on her mat is progress and the daily devotion to moments to strengthen her mind and body.
Perspective. A great mentor once told me that perspective is vital. How we perceive our situation can make or break us mentally. When we feel one emotion lets us channel a way to feel the opposite. Anger -positive energy, Sadness- joy, Doubt-peace, Insecurity-confidence, Instability-balance, Betrayal-truth, Indifference-compassion, Constraint-freedom, Emptiness-fulfillment, Loneliness-community. This practice will not only instill gratitude, it will help us cope with stress and protect our mental state.
Editor: Joy Davis
For help and resources dealing with Depression. Click HERE
Resources for finding a therapist in your area visit Psychologytoday.com
To contact Morgan Corbitt directly: