Dear Black People…

Standard

Dear Black People

It’s time someone says this, but from the bottom of my heart I’m truly sorry that your lives are shattered and torn apart.
I can’t say any words to take away the pain and fear you feel.
The anguish and disgust you face every day as members of your family are gunned down and killed.
Killed senselessly by people who think the lack of pigmentation in their skin makes them a God.
I can’t take away the countless men and women who have been killed just because their skin is darker than mine.
Their skin, closer to the shade of darkness and fear than the cotton your ancestors have picked at the demands of mine.
I can’t take away the targeting, the racial profiling, and the unfair killing.
I’m sorry that you face each day worried about your children.
I’m sorry that the blue lights in your rear view mirror invoke a feeling of panic and fear.
Forcing thoughts of death, instead of help and care.
True, not all police are bad, but making excuses is a crime.
Wearing a badge is not an excuse to snuff out a life in its prime.
We have to stop. For at the other end of this violence is someone’s son, brother, husband, father.
It’s gotten to a point that some people use their white skin as a badge of authority where none exists.
I’m sorry that we live in a society where trained police are excused to act emotionally and with insanity, and unarmed black people are expected to maintain patience and mental clarity.
You’re told, “Don’t move, hands up!” But yet the minute you move your hands you hear “He’s reaching for a gun!”
You’re told “turn off the car and step out of the vehicle”, but the second you do you hear “he’s trying to run!”
As you reach for the ignition fear and privilege presents the opportunity for your brother, sister, father, mother, son, or daughter to be killed.
I’m sorry that you’re stuck between “don’t move” and “step out of the car” suspended in a void between being told to comply yet resisting the orders to lay down and die.
They say #AllLivesMatter and this is true, but we must repeat #BlackLivesMatter until it is engrained in us that we have pushed aside this demographic to treat them as though they’re expendable.

BlackLivesMatter serves as a reminder that the shade of one’s skin is no excuse to die struggling to breathe or pouring out your blood onto the supposed land of the free.
#BlackLivesMatter #BlackLivesMatter #BlackLivesMatter #BlackLivesMatter

We must repeat it until we understand that the color of your skin is no excuse to kill.
We are a country divided. Split by religion, torn apart by skin color, and separated by will.
We have become ripped at the seams and each side seems to be fighting a battle that continues to get worse.
While some of us try to hold together the torn fabric of society, and play a part in a war that’s only getting worse.
I’m not here to make excuses or offer a solution because that’s been done before.
But I’m here to say I stand with you, and I’m sorry your reflexes are sore.
Im sorry your arms are heavy from holding them high, and I’m sorry that your heart is tired from pounding as you cry.
I’m sorry that your time is consumed attending funerals and memorials of your brothers and sisters who were killed before their time was up.
I’m sorry that your ability to grieve and mourn has been taken away and replaced by anger and protests by hearts that are torn.
You fear for your life every time you step out your door.
I’m sorry that you kiss your mother goodbye for a trip to the grocery store.
If this post makes white people mad, then good, because it should. We need to stand up and stand beside our people of color.
Yes, OUR people of color. We are all related in this human existence, yet we act as though it doesn’t concern us until the violence lacks distance.
I’m sorry that your dark skinned brothers and sisters face life in prison for a crime that, had been committed by a white person, would receive less time.
I’m sorry that you’re forced to fear all white people even though some of us aren’t bad.
Some of us are on your side, and some of us are mad.
But you can’t see that because of the spilled blood and anger forming tears in your tired eyes.
You don’t have time to look around as your community dies.
Some of us are angry that you’re locked in a fear like that of an animal caught in a snare.
Some of us stand with you, and some of us don’t, but I promise the latter is far less than that of the ones who want to see you die.
It’s time we use OUR voice to help defend the stolen voices of African Americans in this country.
Voices stolen by a bullet or muscles aching to take a life.
Voices stolen by violence, by anger and strife.
White people armed with guns can storm a state capital & no one blinks an eye,
But black people can’t drive down the road without the threat that they may die.
I’m sorry that you’re stuck in a corner fighting for your right to live.
Clawing and screaming that your lives do matter with nothing left to give.
I sit here in tears as I write all this down
While black people hold their head above rushing water, fighting not to drown.
My heart aches for the lives taken and lost
We say America is free but someone pays the cost.
People of color, I’m sorry for the mental and emotional exhaustion you feel.
I’m sorry for the domestic threat to your lives, and I’m sorry that your life is viewed as lesser than, and not equal to a skin tone that allows the blood of your own to be visible, smeared, and seen even though it’s ignored.
So dear black people, from the bottom of my heart I’m truly sorry.
And dear white people, it’s time we stand up and fight.
I’d rather die than film someone extinguish a light.
We have to speak up for our voices aren’t locked away, they’re not covered by a veil of fear, they’re not silenced every day.
We have an obligation to defend the people dying.
To stand up and speak for the mother who is crying.
We need to speak out and it’s time to stand guard
Of people who are exhausted, and their hearts are scarred.
I was afraid to post this, but my fear is no greater than,
Guns pulled on an innocent unarmed black man.
So dear black people, I’m done standing quietly by, as members of your own silently die.
No more excuses, no more apologies, and no more silence.
As your brothers and sisters die from the claim of non compliance.
Dear black people, I can’t take all this away, but I promise to stand by you and fight every day.
We’ll fight this war together, as united we stand.
I’ll mend your wounds, let you rest, and take you by the hand.
I’ll lead you out of darkness and into light, for your life is worth each breath and together we will fight.

Written by Chase Ferrell, 5/29/2020
*Feel free to share! If you don’t have anything nice to say then stay silent. It’s time we speak out for those who no longer can.

Making Social Media a Positive Experience

Standard

If you’re like me then at one point you either deleted/deactivated some or all of your social media accounts, or you at least gave it some thought. However, I want to address how you can actually turn social media into a positive and uplifting experience. I’ll mostly be referring to Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, but the rules should apply to all of social media.

The first, and most important step in my opinion is to unfollow certain pages or people. Now, there is a difference in unfriending and unfollowing someone. On Facebook you can unfollow someone without unfriending them. All this does is simply stop showing you their posts. But don’t get me wrong, if you feel the need to unfriend someone because of their negative or hurtful posts, then by all means, go for it. I even use the block feature sometimes, but only when someone attacks me personally or takes time out of their day to direct certain things at me. Tagging, private messaging, constantly arguing or posting negative things on the posts that I share will all lead to my blocking a person. However, I typically unfollow or unfriend people instead of blocking. “But Chase, the negative person is my family! I can’t unfriend them!” Okay, but you can unfollow them under notifications. That button works exactly the same for someone you’re related to or someone who’s a complete stranger. Don’t be afraid to use it. You have every right to block out negativity if you find it affecting you. Just because someone is kin doesn’t mean you should tolerate toxic, negative, or abusive behavior. Don’t excuse what they do just because they’re blood. You deserve better than that.

The next step goes right along with unfollowing, and that’s my following certain pages or people who are always positive, happy, and post good things. I have several pages that I follow on Facebook, and I went to their page and changed notifications to “See First”. That means I will see their posts on my timeline above others. When I’m scrolling through my timeline I see the things these pages post first. I have weeded my way through many pages and changed notification settings for “See First” on many of the really positive pages that I’d like to see on a regular basis. Also, by liking or commenting on posts by these pages the algorithm of Facebook will make sure you see these posts more often.

Alright, so let’s take a breath here because this next step is going to be difficult for most. STOP INTERACTING WITH NEGATIVE PEOPLE/PAGES! Just because someone says something you disagree with doesn’t mean you have to comment on it. Unless you have an educated opinion, and aren’t just speaking out of anger or hurt, then you should just move on. Feel free to unfriend or unfollow the page/person. I do this often. Not everyone is going to share your opinion, and that’s okay, but just because I disagree with someone doesn’t mean I have to get involved. This typically leads to an argument, which will negatively effect me the rest of the day. I hate that feeling. So the best thing is to just keep scrolling. I also avoid reading the comment sections on some of the posts or videos I see because I know there’s a 99% chance that someone will have something negative to say no matter how positive the video or post. Sometimes it takes a bigger person to simply walk away from a situation. The minute you begin, or participate in an argument you’ve lowered yourself to their level. There are literally people online who seem to have a daily goal of just ticking people off. Don’t let them win.

The next step is to not only watch/read/like things that make you happy, smile, or laugh, but to also share those things with your friends. I constantly share motivational quotes, cute animal videos, laughing baby videos (those are my faves!), and posts that restore my faith in humanity. Be the kind of person online that you want to follow and interact with on a regular basis. Don’t share negative things and stop posting drama.

My final step, and one I rarely use, is to report certain posts or people. Please understand that this should be used as a last resort. When do you report someone? If their post violate the terms and policies of the social media website. For example, if someone posts something extremely violent, threatens suicide or harm towards others, posts nudity, something regarding sex/child trafficking, constant harassment/bullying, etc. then please report those posts. Do NOT be that person that is constantly reporting someone just because they disagree with you. Please reserve this for dangerous, violent, or sexual posts.

I can honestly say that by doing these things I have literally created a positive/happy Facebook/Instagram timeline. I can scroll through FB or IG each day and see literally nothing but happy and positive posts. I see/share things that make me smile because I know if it makes me happy then maybe it will make someone else smile, and you never know who may need it!

So let’s go over this one more time:
1. Unfollow/unfriend certain pages and people.
2. Follow positive happy pages/people & change notifications to where you see those posts first each day.
3. Stop interacting with negative people. Don’t participate in arguments online. Just because you disagree doesn’t mean you need to voice your opinion. Be the bigger person.
4. Share things with others that make you happy/smile/laugh. Be the person online that you would like to interact with.
5. As a last resort, feel free to report dangerous, violent, sexual, or harmful posts or people to FB/IG/Twitter if it violates their terms, policies, and community guidelines.

I hope this helps! Let me know if you try any of these steps and if it makes a difference! 🙂

-Chase

**Speaking of social media, feel free to follow my blog on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter 🙂

You’ve got this!!!

Standard
I have faith in you!!! Keep pushing forward, you’re worth it. Life is precious and you have a purpose in this universe. Don’t give up, the sunshine is just around the corner from the storm you’re going through! I believe in you!!!
-Chase

#mentalhealth #mentalhealthawareness #mentalillness #depression #anxiety #bipolar #bipolardisorder #ptsd #ocd #suicide #suicideprevention #addiction #recovery #positivity #happiness #searchforhappiness #searchforhappinessproject

Don’t Be Ashamed to Take That Pill

Standard

Now that I’m in recovery I really struggle with taking medication. Any type of medication. Tylenol? Nope. Ibuprofen? Forget it! Cough medicine? HA! I think not! However, there is one type of medication that I take adamantly on a daily basis, my mental health meds.

Your medication for mental illness is not something you should skip or come off of on your own. If you really think you should come off those meds please please consult your doctor and taper off slowly and safely. Some of the worst withdrawals I’ve ever had were from anti-depressants. Now, I used to hate taking my meds because I thought it made me a “psych patient”, however, I quickly learned that it actually makes me a normal person. With depression there is an imbalance of chemicals in the brain. Serotonin and Dopamine are not produced normally so we require medication to make up for it. Those two molecules are basically what gives you happiness and motivation. That’s why, when a depression episode hits, I have a really hard time doing what I should be doing. I simply want to lie in bed and disappear. I have zero motivation to get up and move. I don’t clean, I don’t shower, I don’t eat, I can’t do anything, and there is literally a physiological reason for that. My brain doesn’t produce the right things to give me the motivation and happiness I need, which in turn leads to extreme fatigue because even though I don’t have the motivation I still have to socialize, go to work, perform my normal daily activities, and literally force myself to do basic stuff. It’s exhausting! Depression is very much a physical disease! When someone has cancer or diabetes people don’t expect them to overdo it. They encourage them to take it easy and slow. They would be shocked if this patient attempted to run a full marathon in between their cancer treatments. However, with people who have mental illness we are expected to do the same things that all other people do. There are some days where it just isn’t possible. Sometimes I will give myself an hourly limit per day as to what I’m capable of. For example, if I’m having a rough day it may be only a four hour day. That means, I may only be productive and present for four hours. There are other days where I feel like I have a full eight or even ten hours of “life” in me. However, some days I barely make it an hour. We have to learn to allow ourselves some time to recoup after a long day, and we really need to forgive ourselves when we beat ourselves up for not keeping up with others. They don’t have your illness, so for them an eight hour day is totally feasible. This disease is why I take medication daily, and that is OKAY!

There is such a terrible stigma attached to not only mental health, but also to taking medicine for mental health. People won’t talk about it, and I know many people who suffer alone without any medication because they’re afraid what others might think, or they’re afraid of the side effects. I get it, I do, but I also know that without my meds I would be a completely different person. We have to help cut down on this stigma, and I’ve found a great way of doing that is by speaking out and encouraging others to look into things like therapy, medication, etc. A lot of people seem to think that if they don’t talk about their mental illness it means they don’t really have it. Nope, not how it works. It’s still there. I know medicine doesn’t fix everything, and some people who have depression seem to function fine without it, but if you feel you need medication please seek the advice of a doctor. Don’t let what other people think be the deciding factor in whether or not you take a pill each day. If you had high blood pressure or heart disease you would take daily meds. This is no different.

As a recovering addict my mental health meds are the only pills I take now, and I’m perfectly okay with that. My mental health meds are literally a part of my recovery, just like my therapy appointments, yoga, Narcotics Anonymous meetings, journaling, meditation, reading, etc. Being dual diagnosis (an addict who also has a mental illness) I know that if I don’t keep my mental health in check then a relapse will not be far behind. My addiction and mental health literally go hand-in-hand. If one gets bad the other gets worse. So please, know that it is perfectly okay to take medicine for a mental illness. You can do this. We’ll do it together! I have faith in you. Stay strong!

2020 Vision

Standard

As 2019 comes to a close people will inevitably start talking about their New Years Resolutions! Lose weight, save more money, cut back on splurges, go back to school, etc. However, you don’t have to have some huge drastic resolution. Most of those are left by the wayside by the end of February anyways. Sometimes the only resolution we can make is to just keep pushing forward and hopefully do better tomorrow than we did today. Granted, it’s not a “normal” resolution, but for me it is. There are days that I really struggle. Sometimes just getting out of bed before noon feels like an accomplishment and should be rewarded with at least a participation award. Yet other days I thrive and I’m up by 8am with coffee poured, music playing, laundry in the wash, and half of my house already cleaned by 9am. These are two very different days and I never know which one I’m going to have until it happens. I wake up in a great mood, or not so great mood, but how I handle that is on me. I can allow it to bother me and bring me down, or I can make myself go. I can continue through my morning routine of positive affirmations, stretching/yoga, listening to music, drinking coffee, cleaning house, playing with Maggie (my doggo!), and then starting work. Normally by the time I’m ready to start working my day has already changed for the better. It’s amazing what will happen when I focus on the positives and not the negatives. You’ll hear me say a lot (if you continue reading my blog, and I REALLY hope you do) that you must be an ACTIVE participant in your recovery. I take mental health meds every single morning, but that doesn’t mean I can remain in bed and expect them to magically work. Absolutely not! I have to work with them. I have to become more active, eat better, listen to upbeat music, read inspiring books, talk to positive happy people, and I have to be present. The medicine will only do so much, but we have to do part of the work too. It’s not easy, and sometimes it sucks, but it will only get worse if we don’t try. It’s like training for a marathon only to arrive on the day of the run and expect all your training will run the marathon for you. Nope, not how it works sugar! You have the skills and your muscles are stronger, but you still have to put forth the effort to get to the finish line. Let’s do it together!

I’ve already heard sooooo many people talking about 2020 vision for this coming year. Yeah, it’s a cute pun, but I wish I had 2020 vision for my future. I wish I had a crystal ball that could tell me everything that was going to happen in the next year so I could prepare for it. I wish I could see all the bad and good things that are going to happen, but I can’t. The lesson here is we have to learn to trust our higher power, whatever you may call it. I call it Spirit, some call it God. Whatever works for you, we have to believe that this Universe is too big for things to just happen. We are not always in control, and sometimes that for the best. Over the past two years I’ve had some wild stuff happen and it’s because I had quit being active in my recovery. I relapsed (on pain medicine and in my mental health), I quit doing the things I KNEW helped my mental illness, and I began to isolate myself, a lot. The crazy thing is that when it comes to those things I sort of do have 2020 vision. I know that if I start doing those things I will get worse, my mental health will decline, and typically a drug relapse is not far behind. Yet, when all this happens many of us think, “How did I not see this coming? How did I not catch it?” Well, chances are we did see it coming. And if we didn’t, I can assure you our family and friends saw it. When bad things happen, especially dealing with my addiction or mental health, I tend to say, “Well hindsight is 2020.” Yet it takes me a while to learn that if I had been more present each day I would’ve caught on to the downward spiral in which I was spinning. When you’re draining a tub you see the water going out, and you still have a chance to plug the drain before it all disappears, yet many of us (myself included) tend to get in this zone of just watching everything go down, mostly because we’re just downright exhausted. Then when the water is out of the tub we frantically plug the drain and pray that the water would just come back.

So for the year 2020 I encourage you to develop more 2020 vision when it comes to your mental health and/or addiction, or whatever problem you may be having. Become a present and active participant in your recovery and your health. I have even allowed close family and trusted friends to let me know if they see me headed in the wrong direction. As someone with depression and anxiety our brains often play tricks on us, but typically those outside of your head will see the signs that something is going wrong before you do. If you have a trusted friend or family member that you would be willing to hear this from then I encourage to to talk to them. I told my parents and best friend, “I don’t always notice when I’m getting bad so I need you guys to watch out for me. If you see something or start to notice a negative pattern please tell me so I can fix it before it gets worse.” I have been hospitalized three times and each time could’ve been prevented if I had been more present and proactive with my mental health.

So let’s go into 2020 with a clear vision of what we want and how we’re going to achieve it, and not just a bunch of empty resolutions with which we know we won’t follow through. Let’s be there for each other. Depression/Suicidal Ideation/Anxiety/Etc is a deadly, silent, and invisible illness. We MUST rely on our support systems to get us through the hard times. If you don’t have a support system then reach out to me. I love you guys! You’re stronger than you realize and we can do this. Let’s start this new year off right. Let’s make 2020 the best yet!

-Chase

*Feel free to email me anytime or follow my page on Facebook or Twitter 🙂

It’s Beginning to Look A lot Like…ugh.

Standard

It’s that time of year again. When Christmas music plays loudly at the mall, people are always smiling, children play in the snow, people tend to “pay it forward” more often, and everyone’s heart seems to have grown! However, for those of us who suffer from mental health this is a different type of season. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD, ironically) is a type of depression that tends to affect people more during the dark, cold, gray, winter months. When the leaves and flowers die, when everything turns gray and drab, when the sun and its heat seems to hide, that’s when it really hits for some people. The Mayo Clinic reported around 3 million cases per year of SAD symptoms. These symptoms typically belonged to people who already suffered from depression and it only worsened in the winter, however, some people developed symptoms ONLY during winter months.

This time of year can be stressful for anyone, but it can be exponentially exhausting for those of us with mental health issues. It’s almost as though we “over-act” to appear super happy. We put on the mask of joy that everyone seems to naturally have, and we pretend to be on the same mental level as everyone else. We sing, we laugh, we drink hot chocolate, and we open gifts, all the while wishing we could just be at home away from people. We don’t want to be the Debbie Downer during Christmas so we make others laugh and sometimes even become the life of the party to guarantee that no one sees through our facade.

I’ve learned over the years that this can be not only painful for us, but also very harmful. This year I have skipped two holiday family functions because I knew I was not in the right state of mind to handle it. I knew there would be drama, whispers, and judgmental glances. I wasn’t prepared for it, so in the name of self care I stayed home and watched a movie with myself and my dog. It was great! And it was perfectly okay that I didn’t go. Yes, it’s tradition, but I didn’t owe anyone an explanation or apology as to why I wasn’t there. If I had cancer and was just tired and not up for it then no one would bat an eye, but having an invisible illness means that people often overlook it.

I’ve included a short list of things I do (in moderation) or keep in mind every year when it comes to the holidays:

  1. It’s okay to avoid a family get together if you’re not feeling up to it. There is nothing wrong with protecting yourself.
  2. If you do attend a family dinner and the conversation or situation becomes too much feel free to excuse yourself. Go outside, go to the bathroom, whatever it may be, just get away for a few minutes.
  3. If something or someone triggers you then, again, feel free to step away. If you’re the type that can have a civilized conversation in the midst of a trigger then by all means, go ahead. Sometimes I can, it just depends on the situation.
  4. Remember that YOU ARE VALID!!! Your identity, your illness, your happiness, all of it is valid and you are important. Just because Uncle Bubba talks about mental health like it’s a joke, or refers to you by the wrong gender (if you’re trans) it doesn’t mean you are any less of a person. Sometimes ignorant people say ignorant things. You’re better than stooping to their level.
  5. Carry a fidget toy, stress ball, or even a relaxing game on your phone to serve as a distraction when you need it.
  6. If at all possible drive your own vehicle to the dinner. If it becomes too much you know that you always have an escape plan.
  7. Tell a trusted family member that you probably won’t stay very long. I do this one quite a bit. I go, I socialize, I eat, then after I feel I’ve been there long enough I excuse myself to go home. Just because some people can stay around for hours doesn’t mean I can. It’s exhausting.
  8. The most important, and probably most difficult, is to not let your mental illness control the situation. Please don’t use this list as a way to get out of spending time with people. During my years of therapy I did exposure therapy. It’s extremely uncomfortable, but it’s not going to kill me to attend a family get together. Use this time to challenge yourself to sit with your anxiety. Allow it to be present, but know that you are in control. You can leave if you want to, but try to stick it out. This year you may be able to stay an hour longer than you did last year, and that’s a great accomplishment! If you don’t then just try to work on it next year. Recovery in mental health is a process and will not get fixed over night. You’ve got this and I have faith in you!

-Chase