The Problem Is Not Your Symptoms

Our thoughts, behaviors, and feelings are interconnected. So what we think will determine how we will respond or not respond to events in our lives. Uncontrolled feelings such as hopelessness can cause us to act as if things in our lives will never change and give up on our dreams and desires. But no matter how you may feel at this moment, never give up; always remember that situations can change in your life for the better. You do have something to add to the world in which you live, so begin to challenge your feelings of hopelessness with the Word of God. The problem is not your sickness or illness. There is a remedy for your problem. Your problem is how you think. Symptoms are natural manifestations of the disease and are to be expected. Depending on the situation, your symptoms may be mild or extreme. Symptoms may occur once in a while or daily. So don’t let the problem keep you defeated. Your symptoms may slow you down, but they do not have to stop you. Don’t focus so much on your symptoms that you forget to look at the good things around you. There is a plan and a strategy to overcome. You need to find it in God’s Word. Don’t be so upset with the symptoms that you start speaking negative words over your life. Your feelings about the symptoms can feed feelings of depression, sadness, anxiety, and fear. Your feelings about your symptoms and being sick can cause you to live beneath the plan that God has for your life. Jesus Christ knew that you would be ill or be faced with a negative situation. He has a plan for your life.



Stress

Stressful feelings are triggered by our view of a situation or event, not necessarily the event itself. Just because a situation is stressful for me does not mean it will be for you. But when the mind does perceive a situation to be stressful it sends orders to the rest of the body. The body then responds to the orders it receives from the mind by becoming both emotionally and physiologically aroused. Have you ever almost had a car accident? Or have you ever been startled by something that seemed to come from out of nowhere? If so, you may have experienced a sudden increase in your heart rate, sweating and muscle tension. Those symptoms were activated by the mind to prepare the body either to flee or to face the situation that was triggering the response. When the event that caused your body to be aroused was removed, those symptoms diminished. But some of us live in a constant state or near constant state of arousal or stress.

 

 Our bodies and emotions don’t get a chance to relax so we are always on guard. Unfortunately, the longer our bodies are subjected to stress, the more detrimental the impact will be. Ongoing symptoms of stress can trigger a whole host of negative symptoms that include increased sleeping, overeating, depression, muscle tension, ulcers, nervousness, loss of sexual appetite, tiredness and memory loss (Cunningham, 2000).
 

There are many strategies we can use to manage our stress. But there is no one strategy that will work for everyone in every situation. So in order to manage your stress you must look at the specific situation you are facing and choose a strategy that will work best for you. For example, changing jobs, learning how to relax and learning better communication techniques may be appropriate strategies for one situation, but making diet changes, learning assertiveness skills and exercising may be more appropriate in another. While a person can manage stress in many ways, the one strategy we want to focus on here is the strategy of changing the way we think. Face it—we may not be able to change the situation that is causing us stress, but by changing our thoughts we may be able to decrease the impact of stress on our lives. Take a few minutes to review the list of strategies below and pick the one that works best for you.

 

 

Managing Stress—Changing How We Think

 

  1. Face reality. Some things you may not be able to change.
  2. Learn to release feelings of anger in appropriate ways before it builds up.
  3. Evaluate the things that cause you to worry. Instead of letting your mind focus on the problems, spend some time trying to identify ways to solve the things that cause you to worry.
  4. Learn to see a crisis as a chance for change.
  5. Learn to see both sides of a problem. Remember every situation may have three sides: your side, my side and the right side.
  6. Instead of meditating on negative things, meditate on ways to solve your problem using the Word of God and His principles.
  7. Eliminate thoughts that distress you. Challenge negative thoughts that come to your mind. Are those thoughts balanced? Are they accurate?
  8. Think about the consequences.
  9. Have realistic expectations.
  10. Realize you will have to say no sometimes.
  11. Realize you will have to make a decision sometimes.
  12. Realize you will not get what you want sometimes.


Dealing With Feelings of Heaviness

Acknowledge the feeling (feelings are normal)

Balance your thoughts. If your feelings are leading to negative thoughts or thoughts that overwhelm you to the point that you can’t think of anything else then you have a problem. For example, feeling fear is normal but fear should not overwhelm you to the point that you can’t move forward or do the things that you need to do)

Accurate Information (obtain information about what is causing your negative thoughts and feelings)

Strategize – Once you obtain the information begin to develop a plan to deal with what is causing the negative feelings. If you find yourself worrying and thinking about something over and over again, pull out a pen and paper and begin to develop a plan. What would happen if your fears came true? How would you cope? What can you do now to prepare?

Pray and Praise – Then pray and praise. Reflect on the bad things in your life that you have already overcome and begin to thank God. Remember how he brought you out before. Praise and prayer keeps you from worrying so much



In 2020 I Will Say

1. I am so secure in the grace and love of Jesus Christ that I am free to admit that I have a diagnosis, symptom, problem, or mental illness. I understand that to live a healthy life, I may have to take medications or to make a change, but I know that having to take medications or making a change, does not mean that I lack faith in God. I chose to take responsibility for my situation and not to be afraid to seek help when needed.

2. There is a power higher than I. Through faith, the Word of God, and the Love of Jesus Christ that has been made available to me, I can be whole. I will come to the knowledge that the grace of God is available to me and that He is concerned about everything that concerns me. I will free myself from the prison of my limitations and realize that God has indeed created me for a purpose.

3. I have decided to submit myself to the Lord. Myself meaning my will, my cares, my weaknesses, my strengths, and my insufficiencies. I am not afraid to look at my character and to challenge those behaviors in my life that are not helpful to me, and that needs to be changed.

4. I will apologize to those in my life who I have hurt.

5. While this may not be the plan I envisioned for my life, I will remain determined to rest and trust in His sovereign plan for my life. I will continue to seek after the will of God during my illness and or negative life situation.

6. I will not look at my current situation and think that things are hopeless. I will remember that every Word of God possesses the creative ability of God. God can speak today and turn things around in an instant. St Luke 1: 35 tells us that “with God, nothing shall be impossible.” Unfortunately, whenever I feel as if all is hopeless in my life, I am a prone candidate for defeat, and the enemy has an excellent opportunity to shake my faith in Jesus Christ and my hope in the future.

7. I will remember that I am not on a dead-end street, so I will stop telling myself that I can’t make it. Instead, I will get into the habit of telling myself what God is saying about me and my situation, not what I feel or what I think.

8. Having a severe and persistent mental illness or other long term problem does not mean that I am crazy, stupid, dumb, or weak. God has a purpose for my life, and despite the challenges that confront me and threaten to destroy that purpose, God is faithful to His Word and His thoughts towards me. I am stronger then what I think or feel because God is on my side, and He will never leave me or forsake me.

9. I will choose to hope, to trust Jesus Christ, and to do the things that are necessary to facilitate recovery and life. I will not just sit down and do nothing. I will remember that faith without works is dead.



We Do Care..So Stop The Lie

Topic

Today we are going to explore the topic of African Americans’ mental health and challenge that lie that African American’s as a group don’t care about mental health and don’t get help.

 

 Sigma impacts all people, and all people, no matter their race who have to focus on obtaining the basics in life (food/clothing), are less focused on mental health than those who do not have this issue. Poverty is an important indicator of how receptive a person will be to getting or not getting help. A person’s poverty level affects mental health status. African Americans living below the poverty level, as compared to those over twice the poverty level, are three times more likely to report psychological distress. https://minorityhealth.hhs.gov/omh/browse.aspx?lvl=4&lvlid=24

 

Unfortunately, even in 2000, far too many African Americans in disproportionate numbers are still experiencing financial instability. Financial instability or poverty has the most measurable effect on the rates of mental illness. It’s easy to see how a person may become depressed when they are worried about getting and keeping a job. Basic needs must be meet first before we can feel safe enough to move onto other needs. According to Maslow’s Hierarchy, lower needs must be satisfied before higher-order needs can influence behavior. 

 

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is a theory in psychology proposed by Abraham Maslow in his 1943 paper “A Theory of Human Motivation” in Psychological Review.[2Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs has often been represented in a hierarchical pyramid with five levels.

 

The needs outlined by Maslow include

1) Physiological: hunger, thirst, bodily comforts, etc.;

2) Safety/security: out of danger;

3) Belongingness and Love: affiliate with others, be accepted; and

4) Esteem: to achieve, be competent, gain approval, and recognition.

5) Cognitive: to know, to understand, and explore;

6) Aesthetic: symmetry, order, and beauty;

7) Self-actualization: to find self-fulfillment and realize one’s potential; and

8) Self-transcendence: to connect to something beyond the ego or to help others find self-fulfillment and realize their potential.

 

In other words, if I am looking for a place to stay or getting food, I may not be as focused on meeting with a therapist even though I may need to. So it’s not that African Americans don’t care about mental health, it’s just some of us are focused on survival. 

 

African Americans, because of a long history of economic oppression African Americans are significantly overrepresented in the most vulnerable segments of the population (homeless, foster care, criminal justice, lower-income). But despite all of the negative factors, African Americans still move forward, achieve, and our protective factors have sustained us.

 

Protective factors are characteristics associated with a lower likelihood of adverse outcomes or that reduce a risk factor’s impact. Protective factors may be seen as positive countering events and include things like: Religion/Spirituality, Sense of Racial Pride, Resourcefulness, Family Unity/Kinship Bond, and community involvement. 

 

So despite people who highlight things African Americans don’t do, let us continue to highlight the progress that has been made despite our challenges and embrace those protective facts that have helped us.



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