Mental Health

  • How Group Chat Love & Support Helps Me Fight Depression

    group chat mommyrandr valerie pierre

    In a previous post, I talked about my struggle with depression and how my goal for the year is to inject happiness into my life. I mentioned things that I’m doing to help keep my depression at bay. But there was one thing I didn’t talk about because I wanted to dedicate an entire post to it, and that’s the group chat.

    I cannot tell you how much the group chat saved my sanity.

    I don’t know if you realize this, but the group chat is more than a place to shoot the shit and share memes. This is an ultimate safe space for everyone in it to bare your souls in exchange for genuine love and support. Think about when you’re having a moment with your man, job, or life where’s the first place you go? The chat.

    In other words, group chat is group therapy.

    This is where I would go to unleash my feelings without fear of judgment. I could just express something that’s irking me and a short time later there are my girls chiming in reassuring me shit is gonna be alright. Or sometimes I wouldn’t get a response right away, cause folks got lives and shit to do, but I still felt better cause I was no longer holding on to those emotions. That ‘send’ button was the release I needed. It helped me go on about my day. Yeah, I’d still be somewhat in whatever feelings I was in but it didn’t consume me and weigh me down.

    This is what makes the group chat so damn important. It lets you know you aren’t going through shit alone. Cause this is how depression can make you feel. Alone. It can take you to that dark ugly lonely places inside you and slowly eat away. But I knew I would be fine cause I had women who would be there to support me. And even though I’m notoriously private when it comes to my emotions I find comfort in having a sacred place to release those emotions with no worry of judgment. Which is what I (and most people) fear the most, judgment.

    This is how I’ve been able to survive

    Now don’t get it twisted, group chat support isn’t a one-way street. This isn’t about me dumping my problems and emotions on my friends and them being my support rock. No. This is about us being a rock for each other. The same loving support they give me is given right back to them in their time of need.

    And let me be clear, the group chat isn’t all somber and sadness. Oh, fuck no. We have a good time in there. Aside from jokes and shit, we give each other work tips, motivate and keep one another accountable for goals we’ve set, big each other up when we’ve done awesome work, and reassure when we’re doubtful. It’s pretty lit in there and I’m proud and lucky as shit to have a little private corner of the innanets that’s just for us.

    Do you have a group chat? Does it help you get through those difficult moments?
  • Happiness Is My 2019 Word of the Year – It’s Time to Remove My Mask

    word of the year happiness valerie pierre mommyrandr

    My word for 2019 is happiness.

    I have a confession to make and it’s gonna shock the shit outta you. Are you ready? Okay, here goes – I’m not happy. I honestly don’t remember the last time I was truly happy. I know you see me all jokey n’ shit but most days it’s just a mask.

    I’ve been faking the funk and it’s taking a toll on me, and I’m tired y’all.

    I’m. Fucking. Tired.

    What’s making me unhappy?

    Honestly speaking, it’s my home life. Specifically, where I live and who I live with. No, it’s not Jeff and the kids. You see, I live with my in-laws and the clash of age, culture, and common sense leaves me wanting to scream. But instead of fighting yet another battle I know I’ll never win, (cause common sense never prevails) I bottle it up, keep quiet and go on about my day. That is until I boil over and start taking my frustrations out on those closest to me – Jeff and the kids. If I could afford to visit my therapist I’m pretty sure she would diagnose me with some form of depression. That’s how bad it is.

    How do I know? Cause like most people with an internet connection I looked up depression on WebMD and I found that I suffer from 10 out of 13 symptoms. Some of which include: fatigue, feeling hopeless, trouble concentrating, and irritability to name a few. I can go through a range of emotions that leave me feeling just plain out of it. I feel trapped within the walls of my body and the walls of this house, and I need to break free but there’s no place to break free to.

    How long have I been wearing a mask?

    Who the hell knows, but I know the mask has gotten thicker and right now it’s so heavy I can hardly hold my head up. So much so, it’s causing a number of issues hence the reason for my new year’s health and wellness goals. I’m sick of existing like this. I need to make a change and fast.

    How the hell do I find my happiness?

    The most obvious thing is to move. We know this and we’ve been working on it. Trust me. Our new goal, come hell or high water is to be out by the end of the school semester. But in the meantime, another obvious place to look for happiness is within me.

    I hear a lot of people talking about speaking things into existence. Well, here’s another truth bomb, privately I’ve been speaking very negatively about everything in my life. So how can I expect the universe to give me any positivity when I haven’t put any out in the world? It took a long time for me to understand that I control my happiness.

    My problem was I was pointing fingers at those around me for the cause of my misery. I cannot look for others to give me something that only I can give myself. I also can’t expect Jeff to add my happiness to his to-do list. He’s got enough shit to deal with as provider for our family. I need to get my ass on a white horse and save myself.

    word of the year happiness valerie pierre mommyrandr

    After some research I’ve found six ways I can start bringing happiness back into my life:

    Wake up with positivity

    The first thing I’ve started telling myself when I wake up is, “Today is gonna be a great day.” or “I’m gonna get a lot done today.”  These positive affirmations set the tone for the day. If I’m thinking and speaking positively there’s no room for me dwell on the negative.

    Be grateful

    This is a biggie. One, while I complain about where I live and with whom I need to be grateful I have a place to live. Others aren’t so fortunate. Two, I’m not living here alone. I have Jeff and the kids. They should be my only focus and I need to enjoy spending time with them and not worrying about the other people I live with.

    Go back to therapy

    Therapy can be expensive. Those co-pays add up. But I need to go at least once a month to talk to someone about my thoughts and feelings. Keeping them bottled up is no way to live and it’s not fair to my family to emotionally unload on them. And if I can’t get to therapy I need to open myself more to Jeff in a way that’s not offputting so that we both can get things off of our chests and work on a solution together.

    Update my vision board

    I’ve had the same vision board for at least 5 years. I look at it every day but I don’t really look at it. Which is why I’m gonna toss it and start anew. I’ve already started flipping through old mags and I see I’m more drawn to visuals that invoke happiness and serenity. I’m going to decorate my work area with peaceful imagery as a way to surround myself with happiness.

    Do things that I love

    I’ve gotten into the habit of making time for things and people that bring me joy. I love ending my day reading an article or book chapter, going to meditation on Friday mornings, and spending Sunday’s in bed with Jeff watching Netflix. These things help me find the inner peace I need in order to make it through the week.

    Celebrate achievements

    No matter how big or how small all achievements need to be celebrated. Like cleaning out the boxes of crap in the closet, Jeff getting a job in a new career, our 10 year wedding anniversary, Sierra receiving glowing remarks from all her teachers, and Lil’ Jeff’s speech improvements. This also includes daily achievements like the kids cleaning their room or putting laundry away. It’s all about keeping it positive.

    Choosing happiness for my word of the year was an easy choice. The moment the word hit me I and started seeing how the word made me feel I knew it was the right decision. And these are things I’m going to stop doing once we move? No. I’m going to keep doing them cause no matter where we go it’s important that I’m living my happiest life.

    What are you doing to ensure your happiness this year? What’s your word for the year?
  • Holiday Stress Got You Down? Here Are Some Ways To Manage It

    holiday stress mommyrandr

    The holiday season is upon us, and with it comes the dreaded holiday stress. For many people, this means dealing with a lot more stress than usual. On top of your everyday stresses, you’re now faced with planning or attending holiday dinners, getting gifts for everyone, keeping the kids occupied on winter vacation, and of course, your in-laws. If you like your in-laws consider yourself lucky for one less stress in your life. For the rest of us, their visit cannot end fast enough.

    These overwhelming challenges undoubtedly make us feel stretched too thin as we’re pulled in multiple directions at once. Fortunately, there are things we can do to minimize stress from now through the new year.

    Ten Ways To Manage Holiday Stress:

    Don’t Be Afraid To Say No, And Mean It

    If you don’t want to host dinner, go to someone else’s for dinner, or simply can’t do something due to lack of time or funds just say, no. You in no way should feel obligated to do things that won’t allow you to maintain your boundaries. After you say no you’ll probably be pressured into doing whatever it is you don’t want to do, but stand firm. Let it be known that your no is your final answer and there is no going back on it. Putting limitations on what you will and will not do, in general, but especially during the holiday season will save your sanity.

    Unplug To Take Time For You

    The holiday season is hectic so taking some time for you to regroup is important. Let family and friends know that you’re going to be unreachable for a day or so. Unplugging from emails and social media will allow your mind and body to get back in sync with each other. Enjoy the time you spend alone rejuvenating yourself. No matter how you decide to spend the time, the important thing is you’re doing something for YOU.

    Treat Yourself

    The holiday season is about doing something for others but let’s not forget that it’s also equally important that you do something for yourself. In other words, treat yourself. Whether it be that luxury item you’ve been eyeing all year or a stack of new books or hobby materials. The point is, you’re showing yourself a bit of appreciation, after all, you earned it.

    Make A List Of Everything You Need To Do Starting With The Most Important

    There’s a lot more to the holiday season than just gathering with loved ones and opening presents. The behind-the-scenes work can be chaotic, overwhelming, and draining. So for this reason it’s best that you create a to-do list or use a planner to help plan your holiday calendar and to track your tasks. Writing down your tasks and checking them off as you complete them may seem like extra work but it will alleviate the stress of having to remember everything and rushing to get things done at the last minute.

    Don’t Set Impossible Goals

    Now that you have your to-do list and your planner ready try not to overfill it with goals and tasks. I know in your mind you have a lot of things you want to be done but you have to be realistic about your ability to actually do them. Trying to do too much in a small window of time is a sure-fire way to quickly burn yourself out. Set goals that make sense that you know can be completed without additional hassle.

    Try To Keep Your Regular Routine

    Following your normal routine will help you feel more relaxed and in control. When you don’t get enough sleep, eat right, or cram too much in a single day or week it can leave you feeling sad, stressed, and depressed. So take a look at your daily schedule and add your holiday to-dos in between. Don’t overflow your daily schedule even if your day is empty. Keeping your schedule light and flexible will help keep the holiday stress and chaos to a minimum.

    Maintain Your Boundaries And Stay Away From Toxic Relatives

    Just because it’s the holidays that doesn’t mean that you have to spend time with toxic relatives. If someone you wish to avoid is attending the same holiday dinner as you protect your boundaries and cancel. Dealing with toxic people is draining and the last thing you want to be is stressed because of someone’s negative views and disposition.

    Get Some Exercise

    Exercising helps to clear your mind and improve your overall mood. After a walk or jog around your neighborhood, you’ll feel more energetic and clear-headed. Hitting the gym is also a great place to release pent-up frustration. If getting out locally or even making it to the gym seems impossible, not to worry take a time out and give these health and wellness podcasts a listen.

     Set A Budget

    Setting a budget for the holidays is crucial. A lot of stress is centered around the lack of money or because you’ve overspent. Whichever your situation look at your financials and see what you can afford to spend and not spend. Keep track of this. Even if it means reducing the number of gifts you buy. Remember, it’s not about how many gifts you give but the thought you put into what you give. So instead of 5 gifts seek out one item. It could be something the person has been asking for or something that will compliment what they already have.

    Lastly,

    Live In The Moment

    The holiday season should be a time of joy and happiness. Be sure that you’re present and connecting. Living in the moment is how you’ll ensure that you and everyone else around you is truly basking in the holiday spirit.

  • I Was Stretched Too Thin and These Are the Steps I Took to Overcome It

    *I received a copy of Stretched Too Thin for the purpose of this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own. In addition, this post contains Amazon affiliate links which earn this site a small commission.

    stretched too thin valerie pierre mommyrandr

    Last year this time I was having a difficult time mentally and physically. I had a lot going on between work, the kids, my husband, and our home life. I was constantly aggravated and snappy, stressed to the point where I couldn’t think straight and tired beyond measure. Looking back, I now realize I was stretched too thin and didn’t even realize it.

    What made this time in my life particularly frustrating was no matter how changed my eating and drinking habits and tweaked my night time routine I was still tired. Every day after I dropped the kids off at school I would come home and sleep all day. Mind you, this was supposed to be the time I should have been working uninterrupted. After all, I had waited two years after my first kid started school for my second to begin kindergarten. This should have been an exciting and fruitful time for my business. But instead of it flourishing, it floundered. Shit was bad and I was a minute from snapping.

    In hindsight, I can see how my actions got me in a predicament where I would become stretched beyond my limits. If I hadn’t tried to do too much which ultimately left little time for family, friends or myself I could have avoided feeling like I was on the cusp of having a nervous breakdown.

    What does it mean to be stretched too thin?

    The meaning is simple, you have too much going on but not enough time to accommodate any of it. You know what this looks like, you and your family’s schedule is packed from sunrise to sunset. Most days you don’t know if you’re coming or going. You end up at one place thinking it’s Tuesday when it’s really Thursday and you should be across town. And as a result, you’re in a constant state of frustration and fatigue.

    Now the easy thing to say is, well stop piling on so much shit. And that’s true. But you see, I didn’t realize I had taken on so much. I didn’t stretch myself thin overnight. Nah, son. I was doing it without realizing it. One too many extra projects here, taking the kids there, on top of keeping my house in order as a stay at home mom and trying to be a halfway decent wife. By the time I realized what was happening to me it was too late. Shit had already spiraled out of my control.

    How I regained control of my life

    The first thing I did was say no to every request in my inbox. This was not something that I was used to doing cause if I thought I could do it I would. Which was my number one problem. I needed to realize just because I could it didn’t mean I should. After that, I went into my inbox at all my pending things and told folks it was gonna take longer than promised due to overextending myself. Thankfully, I work with nice people who understood and sympathized with me as they too have been in my shoes.

    With projects completed and my whole schedule clear going forward I needed to make sure that I prioritized my family and myself above all else. Instead of working 7 days a week I cut it down to three – four tops. Friday, Saturday and Sunday were my personal days. Monday too if I could swing it. The impact of this new schedule was a game changer. I no longer felt overwhelmed or exhausted and I had more time for me. It also made my family happy cause I was fully present. Things were looking up and I couldn’t be more excited for lay ahead for me.

    How do you avoid finding yourself in a similar situation?

    I’m telling you right now you don’t wanna end up like me and how I was last year. You don’t want to walk around in a state of heightened stress all the time yelling at your family for every little thing cause you’re tired and can’t think straight. It’s no way to live. So when I knew I had to make a change  this is what I did to pull myself back together:

    Plan shit out

    I have never been a planner but over the last year, I’ve come to realize how important planning is. I used to think it was silly, now I don’t make a move without checking my calendar. This is a great way to keep yourself from having too much going on at once. You can look ahead to see if it makes sense for you to add on another activity or project, and it also shows if you need to remove things. Simply put, planning keeps you balanced.

    It’s okay to say no

    There is no rule that states you have to do everything. You don’t, and you shouldn’t, because you can’t. Don’t put your mental, emotional and physical health on the back-burner for nothing and no one.

    Make time for you and your loved ones

    When you’re being pulled in so many different directions it leaves very little time to enjoy being around those whom you love and care about. Now that you’re planning out your schedule and learning to say no you’ll see how much free time you have. Use that time to reconnect with family and friends, and most importantly, yourself. You’ll notice those around you will appreciate that you’ve not only have taken the initiative to spend time together but that you’re also present enjoying the moment creating meaningful long-lasting memories.

    Get Jessica Turner’s newest book Stretched Too Thin

    I’ve been a fan of Jessica’s since her first book release Fringe Hours. I considered it my favorite self-care book, that is until I read her newest release, Stretched Too Thin. Reading this book following one of the most stressful year’s of my life helped me fully understand the depths of what I put myself through, the negative impact it had on those around me and to see how far I’ve come since then.

    stretched too thin valerie pierre mommyrandr

    What makes this book special is the fact that it doesn’t read like a book at all. It’s more of a manual and in it, Jessica gives you the tools to: work and parent guilt-free, invest in your marriage and friendships, establish home and work boundaries, and home management solutions – just to name a few.

    stretched too thin valerie pierre mommyrandr

    What separates this book from other self-care books is that Jessica isn’t suggesting or sharing shit that she hasn’t done or gone through. You can tell as you read or listen along that she knows and understands the struggle a lot of us moms face and is committed to helping us find solutions that will not only be beneficial to us but to our families as well.

    But my favorite aspect is the journal like reflection section at the end of each chapter. This allows you to dig deep to identify areas of your life that may be stressful or problematic and improve those areas using the tips laid out within the chapter.

    While it took me less than a week to read it’s a book that I will keep handy to refer back to as often as necessary to ensure I don’t end up back in the space I was a year ago. For this reason alone it makes Stretched Too Thin worth the read.

    stretched too thin valerie pierre mommyrandr

    Stretched Too Thin along with Jessica’s previous titles, The Fringe Hours and My Fringe Hours are available at your local bookstore, Amazon, and on Audible.

    Have you ever felt stretched too thin? How did you go about putting yourself back together again?