Are You Taking Care of Your Mental Health?

I want to talk today about mental health and caring for oneself. With everything that has gone on since the year 2020 has started and the outcry the nation has had recently calling for change and equality, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to think that there aren’t some people feeling some deep emotional pain right now. I’ve seen many posts and statements being made about people feeling as though if someone is being silent and not saying anything than they are a part of the problem. Here’s my issue with that thought process.  

For one, everyone’s way of resisting or standing up for change may not look the same. Sure there are those that are the one’s that march and shout with their signs rallying together. However, there are also some that use their art as a way of protesting and speaking up as well and it may not be as loud as others want it to be, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t standing with the movement in their way. There is also the small chance that if people are silent, it is because they are not okay right now.

There are those who have fallen into a deep depression because they feel the pain so deeply that they just can’t pull themselves out of bed. There are some who, just looking at the news these days fills them with such anxiety that they can’t manage to do anything productive. Then there are those who are just traumatized by it all and are legitimately suffering from PTSD, simply from the fear of stepping outside their door and having to wonder, because they are black, if they will even make it back home.

So I just want to tell anyone out there who is struggling mentally, I’m with you. I am right there with you, trying to figure out how I can play my part and still protect my mental well being. I too don’t want people to think that just because I’m not down somewhere marching with a sign and protesting that I don’t feel the pain of the struggle. I feel it, and because I’m an emapth I feel it deeply. I have my own way of making my voice heard while still taking care of my mental health.

For those of who suffer from mental health issues who are trying to navigate a way to make a difference and still keep their sanity, I see you. And even though you are not okay, I know that you still care and I acknowledge that you are struggling too and need to take care of yourself. Don’t let anyone bully you into a place that would be mentally unsafe for you and that would put you in harms way emotionally. If you aren’t okay then you reach out to someone and let them know that you need to talk. Don’t let it just fester inside of you. As for wanting to make a difference, do what you can and when you can but only if you can. Until next time… #BeMindful #BeCautious #BeAware

 

Jimmetta Carpenter 

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Don’t Lose Sight of Hope

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” ~ Philippians 4:6-7

We just celebrated Resurrection Sunday (Easter) and my Pastor (via live stream of course) talked a lot about having Hope in Jesus and allowing that Hope to shape your thinking and your attitude and how you go about things. He talked about having confidence in the outcome of God’s will, whatever that outcome may be. As he was preaching this I actually realized that I had finally gained that sense of Hope and that inner peace that I’ve always wanted. It is interesting when you start to notice changes within yourself taking place (usually you are the last one to actually notice them) because even when you are working on yourself and your personal growth for that very purpose, it often feels like you’re the same person you always were.

I found it odd that when the current world crisis that we are in hit that I wasn’t as freaked out about it as a lot of people around me were. It’s what I would’ve been doing years ago. I would have been overly paranoid, overly worried, and my OCD would have went off the charts. But I’m not doing any of those things, at least not when it comes to this pandemic. I feel an overwhelming sense of peace and calm and I think that is attributed to this journey of spiritual growth that I have been on.

I knew at the beginning of that journey that I wanted to get to a place where my anxiety and depression didn’t have such an overwhelming hold on me and to where, even if I felt a little bit of worry over a particular situation (because I’m still human) and even when I’m staying cautious about certain crisis I can still feel gratitude and still trust that ultimately God is going to do everything that he said he would and that includes all of the promises that he made over my life. God said in Jeremiah 29:11 that his plans for me and my life are to prosper me and not to harm me and to give me hope and a future, and not just any future, but an abundant one. If I believe that and if I trust that then there is nothing to worry about or to panic over.

I never used to get it when people told me that even when all hell was breaking loose in their world they felt at peace and they were as happy as they could be because they knew God had them. I didn’t get it before but I get it now because that’s how I feel. Things still aren’t great for me right now, financially or career wise, but I have so much to be grateful for and the fact remains that I still have each day that HE wakes me up to get it right and to get things on track. I have confidence in the outcome, whatever that outcome may be because God’s will is always going to be done no matter what. So let’s not lose Hope in a time when it is very easy for us to lose sight of how much God loves us. Until next time… #BeHopeful #BeConfident #BeinFaith

 

Jimmetta Carpenter 

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Creativity Interrupted

There’s something I have to talk about and it’s not a subject I like to really talk to most people about. This is usually the only place I can be truly vulnerable about it and that’s writing and depression. I don’t know how many of you out there have to figure out how to write while you are battling through a depression episode but I feel like we as writers don’t talk about this enough. There’s this inherent notion that writers, well artists’ in general, are constantly suffering through some sort of emotional crisis and that emotional turmoil is what then fuels their writing and I really used to think this was just a horrible myth that I wanted to ignore. Now I’m starting to wonder if there isn’t some truth to it, mainly for two reasons.

It’s not that we creative types just have some type of genetic disposition for depression or emotional breakdowns but rather, I think it’s because we tap more into our emotions in order to write as well as taking on the emotions that we attribute to the characters that we are writing about (because yes, our characters are real people to us and they have real emotions that we must convey).

The second reason I somewhat buy into the myth of the artists struggle is more to the point of this post. It’s possible that writers or creative types in general are overly emotional, and are prone to depressive moods because we hold onto our emotions and don’t let them out. I mean sure we can use our writing to let out some emotions but that is a solitary act and it can still leave you feeling alone and as if your emotions and feelings don’t matter.

It is true that writers are known for, and most of the time, enjoy their solitude because it’s typically when the best creating gets done. However, that does not mean that writers don’t enjoy being around other people and venting or sharing their feelings with people that they care about or trust enough to be vulnerable with. If we don’t get those feelings out we tend to go further inside of ourselves and that leads to getting into a funk or a mood that may not in fact be productive or good for their creativity.

For me, it’s sometimes hard to detach myself from my emotions because I think that my emotions are what make me a better, more in tuned writer. On the flip side of that when I am going through an episode of depression, because there are so many emotions that I am internalizing and holding in, it’s harder for me to write.

I think that we artists have to stop holding things in and thinking that we’re just supposed to endure whatever feelings we’re having by ourselves. We have to be just as vulnerable with our own feelings as we are with the feelings of our characters because if we want to remain effective writers we have to learn to let go of some of that solitude that we hold so dear.

So if you’re feeling in a bit of a funk lately, a bit depressed maybe, try finding that one person that you can be open with and getting all of those feelings out. I think that you’ll be surprised at how freeing it can be and how good it will feel to get those emotions out and oddly enough you fill find that it will allow you to be more vulnerable in your writing and in expressing the emotions of your characters. Until next time… #BeVulnerble #BeOpen

 

Jimmetta Carpenter

Writer/Editor

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Moving Away From the Comfort Zone I’m Stuck In

Hello all!

It’s been a while since I’ve posted. This year has been a very trying one so far and I have truly been struggling with a lot of things financially and with my writing. The things I’ve been going through lately have brought on another bout of depression and along with it a layer of anxiety as well. It has become a bit of a hindrance to my writing on many levels which is frustrating to say the least. The past two weeks in particular had left me in a place that I honestly didn’t know what was going to happen, I simply just had to pray about it, ask others around me that cared about me to pray for me, and leave it up to God.

My mother made a statement questioning why God would allow me to go through what I’m going through and why would this be happening right now and my only response was that HE has a reason for everything and honesty the situation was probably more of a result of all the times that I tried to do things my own way and not HIS way. In fact, I think that’s what this particular feeling of rock bottom left me with. I was trying to gain understanding as to what the reason was and I figured it out, or at least I believe I figured out what HE was trying to get me to understand.

I have all of these gifts and talents and plenty of ideas as to the ways to put them to use in order to provide the things that I need but I keep waiting for things to be perfect before making any moves to attempt any of those ideas. I have books that could have been published but for this reason or that I didn’t feel like it was perfect enough to put out there. I have an idea for a line of T-shirts that I have been told by multiple people would be a great idea and that they would love to get one when I put them out there but because I can’t get one thing perfect for them I won’t put them out there. I’ve been told and have had the feeling several times that it’s time to take this blog and my magazine to the next level and start a YouTube channel or Podcast but because I don’t consider myself camera friendly (mind you that’s my assessment, not others assessment of me) or because I have a fear that people won’t listen or that it won’t be helpful to others like I want it to be I haven’t even moved towards making that idea a reality.

All of these things that God has placed on my heart to do, quite frankly because they pull me out of my comfort zone, and I haven’t done them because I keep having this notion that they’re supposed to be perfect. I think that this most recent situation has made me realize I have to stop ignoring what I know I’m supposed to be doing and moving towards because it’s uncomfortable and because things won’t be able to be perfect because logically I know that nothing is ever going to be perfect and if I’m really honest with myself, some of the most beautifully constructed things are made beautiful by the imperfections that they possess.

Now I don’t enjoy rock bottom by any means, but I have to say that this experience has taught me something about myself and just reaffirmed my faith in God and the path that HE is getting ready to take me on. I’m not out of the woods just yet (in terms of the current situation) but I truly believe that I can see HIS footsteps much clearer now, guiding me out of troubled waters. Until the next time… #BeFearless #BeinFaith

Jimmetta Carpenter

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Growing Pains

Growing Pains post 2

So yesterday was Valentine’s Day and oddly enough it got me to thinking about how much I’ve grown. I can remember a time where Valentine’s Day made me anxious. Was I going to be alone on the day of love or was I going to have someone to share it with that particular year? At the stage in my life where it bothered me if I didn’t have a valentine I did not love myself enough yet, hell most days back then I didn’t even like myself (I’m talking late teens and early twenties here), and then whether or not I did like myself usually depended on what someone else thought of me. I didn’t realize it then because people didn’t talk about stuff like mental health but I had already begun my dance with depression and I needed validation from others to feel some sense of self worth.

So needless to say Valentine’s Day has never been one of my favorite days because it was either a really extreme high (because I had someone that year) or an even more extreme low (because I didn’t and I had my mother’s voice echoing in my head telling me no one would ever want me). I don’t bring any of that up to be all sad and depressive, only to point out that I truly have grown. I said a couple of years ago that I was starting a journey in which I wanted to be by myself for a while and grow my relationship with God and the one I have with myself, that I wanted to start to love myself a lot better and treat myself better than anyone else could ever treat me.

Now because I’m a mother and almost every time my daughter and what she needs will come first I don’t always succeed at treating myself to nice things or even pampering myself at all, but I have improved my love of myself and I have (at least I believe I have) strengthened my relationship with God which has also in turn provided even more self awareness and allowed me to see in myself what God sees in me, what HE has always seen in me. For me valentine’s day is no longer about whether I have someone in my life special or not because I know that I always have someone special in my everyday life and that is me (and of course my child but you get the point) and that’s enough.

I’m still growing and there are still improvements that I am making within myself and within my relationship with God but I can truly say that I have a peace within me now that I don’t think I’ve ever had before and I love it. I don’t look at Valentine’s Day with disdain anymore and it doesn’t make me sad like it once did so many years ago. I think that my growth in terms of self acceptance and my spiritual growth has spilled over into my writing career and the journey of fulfilling my purpose and I believe that it will continue to nurture those areas of my life. It’s funny how we rush so fast in our teens and early twenties to grow up without realizing that our growth never really stops, or at least it shouldn’t. I hope that I’m always growing, that we are always growing because there is always so much more to the next stage of life then what we learned on the last.

Jimmetta Carpenter

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What You See Is Not Always What Is Real

FINE Depression post

There have been a lot of reports in the news within the last year or so regarding Depression and people from young children to successful people in the prime of their lives committing suicide. A recent CDC report states that the rate of suicide has risen nearly 30 percent since 1999 (link to CBS news clip) and this report comes in the wake of the two most recent high-profile suicides of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain. These two people in particular were people who everyone around them, thought was happy and who, on the surface, appeared to have it all.

They wore the required smiles and they exuded joy and gratefulness for all that life had afforded them. Yet still, they felt that whatever pain they were feeling deep down inside was just too much to bear and perhaps they even thought the world would somehow be better off without them. Now people who knew and loved them are left behind to try and make sense of it all. They’re trying to figure out how they missed the signs and why they didn’t see how much pain they were in or the perpetual dark cloud that was looming over them.

The truth is that if people are suffering through depression and they don’t want you to know it then you won’t know it. Not until they are ready for someone to pull them out of it. They strategize and practice ways to hide their sadness and when they can’t hide it they simply hide themselves. I’ve talked on here before about my many bouts with depression and the thing is only the people who are closest to me, as close as family, ever knew that even the tiniest thing was wrong with me and that was only if I had decided that I wanted to open that window just a sliver. The darkness that I felt was just so dark and the sadness was so deep that I just didn’t see a way out. At least that is how it feels when I am in that state.

I have this running joke with people when I am in the midst of a state of depression. When they would tell me that I was always happy and smiling I would respond by telling them “then that means the act is working” and they would take it as a joke but I was never really joking. Over the years I had developed defense mechanisms that kept people at a distance and fell back on my solitude as a writer to explain the isolation. Since I’ve started going back to church a couple of years ago I haven’t really found myself in that deep state of depression anymore. I still have my days where some sadness creeps in but I’ve gotten better at not allowing it to linger too long. Therapy is good but I like the added sense of joy and peace that being in the house of God has brought me and it truly gives me strength that I didn’t realize I had before.

I am so thankful that I haven’t felt that deep darkness in a long while but the thing about having a mental illness like Depression is that you’re never really cured from it. At any given time that wave of sadness can hit you like a ton of bricks and it could happen literally out of nowhere. My hope is that people with depression find a way to talk about it before it gets to the point where they feel so overwhelmed by it that they just can’t speak about it. Don’t treat it as if it is something to be ashamed of and fearful to talk about because not talking about it is how it turns into the growing problem that it has become.

You can’t always wait for the signs that you could be missing. People who suffer from depression are just too good at hiding it for anyone who’s not paying attention to notice. Don’t wait for them to cry out for help. You have to hear the words that aren’t being said, distinguish the nervous giggle from the actual laughter, and be able to see the frowns that are hidden behind the smiles. If you have a friend who is drowning then reach in and grab them out of it kicking and screaming if you have to. Odds are they don’t know how to tell you that they are sinking.

**If you find yourself feeling like you are in a dark place and you are having thoughts of suicide please, please, please get help. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 any time of day or night.

 

Jimmetta Carpenter

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Now That the Fog Has Lifted… Back to the Business of Writing!

 

Fog lifted

It’s been so long since I’ve written to you all! My hiatus was definitely not something that I had planned on but nevertheless I am back now. I suffer from random bouts of depression. I get in this funk and sometimes it takes a longer period of time than others to pull myself out of it. I should probably seek out a therapist but I hate the idea of talking to some random stranger who doesn’t know me or anything that I’ve been through in my life sitting there judging me and writing notes about me. It’s not that I don’t believe that they would be capable of doing their job, I just have a thing about telling total strangers extremely personal things about me which is probably what makes the bouts of depression last longer than they should.

Ordinarily writing would help with that but part of the depression was that my writing career wasn’t exactly going the way that I had envisioned it going. Perhaps it was a midlife crisis and realizing that what I had mapped out for my life many, many, many years ago was totally off track and I couldn’t see a way to get it back on track. I saw no light at the end of the tunnel that I was in. This depression that I was in led me to an unintentional hiatus seeing as though one of the issues I was having was a lack of confidence in my writing. That’s hard for me to admit to because that’s the one thing over the course of my life that I have never had a lack of confidence in was my writing. I’ve always known that no matter what no one could take that away from me but over this last year and a half I’ve been feeling like maybe my writing just isn’t good enough.

Of course now that I can feel the fog lifting and I have recently felt a sense of peace even in the midst of the storms in my life I am starting to regain that confidence in my writing that I once had. I’ve been recently planning out my writing goals again and submitting novels to agents, outlining new novel ideas, planning new content for the Magazine, planning out new posts for this blog, and even mapping out an idea for a television pilot I want to write, and the more that I focus on those writing goals I have, the more I start to get some of my writing confidence back. I’m starting to feel like myself again and I love feeling like me because it took a long time for me to love the person that I have become. Writing is a sort of therapy for me and I hope I never lose that.

Any-who, I’m back and I hope you’ve missed me because I sure have missed writing for you. Here’s to new ideas, new opportunities, and many more words that hold purpose and power!

 

Jimmetta Carpenter

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Trapped Inside My Own Head

Trapped inside my head 1

Knowing is not always half the battle. I know that’s the saying that people like to quote when people admit their flaws and faults. As if to provide comfort and some optimism in the fact that somehow you knowing where you fall short at should propel you into making choices that will progress you as you move forward. Generally I believe that if you don’t know or admit the problem or the flaw that you can’t fix it, however, there are instances where just knowing where you fall short at doesn’t actually help you move forward.

I can admit that I am a person that may at times be too tapped into my emotions, so much so that when I screw up an opportunity or I get down about things not going the direction I want or think they should be I completely shut down creatively. That is actually one of my major flaws that I recognize about myself. I get depressed too quickly when things go in the wrong direction and it takes me far too long to come out of that depression and during the time that I am depressed, quite frankly, I don’t feel creative and I don’t feel much like writing. It’s pretty much the opposite of the typical stereotype of writers, that depression makes writers write masterpieces. I know this about me and I know that it’s something that I need to correct but I’m not sure how.

It’s completely frustrating because I’m in this funk and I can feel myself sinking deeper and deeper into it but on the flip side of that there are all of these ideas that I have and these plans that I want to get accomplished and when it comes down to it, I simply can’t get it done. I always thought that writer’s block was the worst thing that a writer could go through but it’s so much more frustrating to not be blocked as far as ideas and material but yet still not be able to produce anything.

I refuse to give up but it’s tough to see other writers around me coming up with beautiful pieces of work and being successful at their craft and meanwhile I’m too much in an emotional funk to actually produce anything. I want out of this phase but I don’t know how to get out. I don’t know how to just set aside my emotional issues and take these ideas I have building up in my head and just put them on paper. I need to figure this out or else all of my opportunities are just going to slip right through my fingers and I won’t have anyone else to blame but myself.

So if anyone who reads my blog has any suggestions on how I can pull myself out of this funk, this gloomy phase and get out of my own head to finish these projects that I really need to get done, don’t hesitate to suggest something. Everyone needs help at times and oftentimes it’s the help from people who don’t know you personally that could make all the difference. I don’t want to waste this purpose that God has given me so how do I get out of my own head?

 

Jimmetta Carpenter

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When Having It All Can No Longer Masks the Pain

hiding behind a smile

The passing of Robin Williams on Tuesday has understandably left the world shocked and speechless. I personally felt like the world lost a little part of its magic because he was such a funny human being that brought so much joy into people’s lives. Obviously I never met him so I can’t speak to who he was with first-hand knowledge but he was one of those people that you always felt, in watching him, that you could relate to him. He was inspiring to watch and on the days when I just didn’t feel like much of anything he made me laugh.

One of the things that I am hearing most is how it could be possible that someone who made everyone around him laugh so much wasn’t happy himself. If anything good comes from his tragic death it is the open forum that it leaves for us to really take a look at what depression is. I find it striking just how many creative people, writers, comedians, actors and actresses, singers, dancers’, just creative types in general, struggle with depression. What’s even more alarming is that the majority of comedians in particular are said to be masking the reality of their inner pain with the outward satisfaction of making others pain go away with a moment’s laughter.

People don’t talk about depression, as if it is something to be ashamed of. And then there are some who just don’t take depression seriously because it is a disease that you can’t see. I know that I personally suffer from bouts of depression and feelings of hopelessness. A lot of my writing serves as my own brand of therapy to cope and sometimes it helps and others it doesn’t. There were many times in my teens and my early twenties that I just didn’t want to be here on this earth anymore and there were attempts made that weren’t successful (obviously) but it’s just never been something to talk about with people. I am only recently starting to talk to my closest friends about the depression that I suffered and that I sometimes still feel creep up inside of me when things seem to not be going right.

Talking about depression doesn’t make it go away but it certainly does help people who are dealing with it feel less alone. In talking with others you sometimes realize that you aren’t the only one who is suffering with this disease. More importantly we need to open up a discussion about it because it doesn’t just strike in adults, it oftentimes starts when you are a child. Children today are going through so much more than people realize from being bullied, to domestic violence in the home, to feeling like you just are not quite good enough. We need to stop being afraid to talk about this disease or feeling stigmatized by it.

Depression hides behind those smiles that you see on your loved one’s faces and it can be covered up with excuses of being tired or purely exhausted, or even in their loss of appetite or on the flip side that sudden urge to devour every item of food in sight because food doesn’t judge you. Depression does not just jump out at you and shout that it’s there and a lot of times the person struggling through it may not even realize that that is in fact what they are struggling with. So pay attention to your loved ones and don’t just downplay a developing pattern of behavior simply because you’re too busy to pay attention to what may really be going on.

I think that Robins Williams’ death shows us that even the most successful and seemingly happy people can have pain inside them that they can’t see their way past. Depression doesn’t just take place in a certain class, culture, or area. It is everywhere and can strike anyone. For those out there that envy the lifestyle of a celebrity (and I am guilty of this too), you should be reminded that you could be the person that seems to have it all, to have everything that would make almost anyone happy, but that does not mean that you are truly happy and that you don’t suffer. No one has to suffer from this alone. If you know someone who you think could be suffering from depression, don’t try and wait for the right moment to do something about it, there isn’t one. And if you are that person, don’t wait until it’s too late to talk to someone about it. Talking really does help.

 

R.I.P. Robin Williams

Robin Williams

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jimmetta Carpenter

My Write 2 Be is…

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