Jul 13, 2015

Alzheimer's Made My World Different

I hate Alzheimer's Disease. 

It's so hard to keep focused and positive these days. Watching my grandmother pass away naturally. I know what the outcome will be but even that is difficult to accept knowing that life will never be the same again without her. I already miss her smiles and touch of her hand. I miss her goofy laugh and thick Alabama accent. I miss her mixed greens and pan fried hoecakes. I miss all shopping trips to the flower shops and Thriftway on Saturday mornings. Sitting in the backseat of that red Oldsmobile with her and my mother, with my father driving and my grandfather in the passenger seat. I felt so privileged to grocery shop with my grandmother! It was like I had the inside trade secrets on what goodies she would have for us in the kitchen! I miss it all. I remember everything.

But now it's like 3 shadows were in that car. I can still see them, but everything is in slow motion in head. My mother and I are still warm, sitting beside each other in the backseat. One day, I'll be sitting there alone.

It is all a bitter pill to swallow. 

God knows how much we can bear. Looking back, it was hard but it was never a burden to help take care of my grandmother. It was a fact of life. She had the disease. Now we had to take care of her the best we could. It was fact. 

The hardest part really is/ was taking care of my own mother. It felt like I had lost my mother sometimes and she became this super caregiver who was obsessed with everything grandma! Phone calls sparsely began with hello and conversations rarely included plans for mother/daughter dates. Any time I had with my mother included my grandmother as well and that enlisted us both giving most of our attention to her. 

In that I had to grow up and understand that it's not all about me... it's about the love and respect I give to others. I learned more patience than ever before. I learned how to bear the weight of others and not make it my cause to solve their problems even when I wanted. I learned how to hold my peace and let God fight for me. I learned how to pray more and talk less. I learned how to stand still but to run to hills when need be.

I can see my mom coming back to herself but she's still not sure what to do with her time now. Shes going from caring for her child, then her father, then her husband, then her mother.  And then what? My hope for her is that she starts to live her life for herself and enjoy retirement. But that's up to her. She is hard-headed. I'm pretty sure she'll find a way to take care of someone else... that's who she is.

I look into the future and hope there can be a world without diseases like Alzheimer's. Hopefully a cure or some type of sure prevention can keep people from having to suffer. Then realizing that this disease is still not done with my family.  Other family members are suffering and have suffered, It is changing our lives, making us see the world differently, drawing us closer in a different way,  rallying us to do better for ourselves and for each other. 

I wish I could have changed things in another direction.

Jun 19, 2015

Juneteenth: 150 Years of Freedom

Today is Juneteenth.

It's time to remember on the tens of millions of our African ancestors who were kidnapped from their homeland and forced to be slaves in North and South America and the Caribbean.

We remember those who died on the ships during the long torturous voyage across the Middle passage.

We remember our ancestors who were stripped of their humanity and identity. Let us never forget the trials and tribulations they were forced to face.

We remember every crack of a whip, every lashing of flesh, all of the blood shed in the cruelty of slavery. 

We remember every man and woman who revolted or ran to freedom.

We remember the black men who fought and died in war to ensure that freedom would be a reality to their people.

Let's celebrate and walk in the freedom for which our people have bled and died! Let us use our freedom wisely, guard it carefully, and embrace it totally.

Let's continue to fight for justice and stand against injustices in the world! We must not let racism, hate, prejudice, nor bigotry have the last word.

Allow this Juneteenth to be a reminder of our tenacity, our ability to hold on to hope, and to our faith in God.

Let all African Americans continue to hope and work toward a better future while remembering and rejoicing over our triumphant heritage. We shall forever strive to newer heights through liberation and excellence.

Apr 24, 2015

Letting Go and Cutting Off

My ex has recently hitting me with sporadic text messages out of the blue. I can't express the rush of emotions I dealt with over just a few words. From anger to indifference to worry.

Sometimes your past wants to piggyback onto your future.  I am learning how to cut off from the weight of my past. There's some things and some people I had let go of but I never officially cut the cord. So there was always a glimmer of hope or change. But now... the past things need to die.

I'm no longer going to be the care manager of past mistakes and past relationships.  I can't keep reliving the hurts nor the disappointments.   I can't change the past. I can only focus on the present and have joy that God has, is, and will bless me beyond all I could ever want or think.

And then learning or rather beginning the process of forgiveness. Wow! I didn't think I had so much disdain or dislike for certain people until I really got down and examined myself. God had to reveal some of the things in my heart that were separating me from experiencing the fullness of love, joy, and peace.

I'm just ready to smile in the sun and just enjoy my life.

Mar 18, 2015

Mental Illness is Very Real and Can Be Treated

Unfortunately in the African American, African, Asian, Hispanic cultures & religious community, mental illness and emotional health is frowned upon. Behavioral symptoms that are out of the ordinary are often ignored and taken as weaknesses or a passing phase. 

The brain is a major working organ of the body. Just like the heart or lungs, it too can become diseased. When people are expressing behavior/feelings/emotions that are not normal; not based in reality or rationality; or may be harmful to themselves or others, these are times that we not only react spiritually but we must also attend to their physical needs by finding proper medical treatment as soon as possible.

There is no problem or negative stigma in seeking help from a licensed mental health professional. I myself have dealt with severe depression since the age of 11 and have had to acknowledge that I needed help. Yes I have faith in God! I believe that healing comes from the Most High but as long as I am in this body made of flesh, I also know that I am also vulnerable to disease and illness.

You don't know what will trigger it either, for me it was my father's death. It might be a soldier coming home experiencing the effects of war. It may be the suburban mom overwhelmed by life. You don't know when, but you should be aware of the signs.

From psychiatry.org

"What are the Signs and Symptoms to Be Concerned About?"

If several of the following are occurring, a serious condition may be developing.

*Recent social withdrawal and loss of interest in others.
*An unusual drop in functioning, especially at school or work, such as quitting sports, failing in school, or difficulty  performing familiar tasks.
*Problems with concentration, memory, or logical thought and speech that are hard to explain.
*Heightened sensitivity to sights, sounds, smells or touch; avoidance of over-stimulating situations.
*Loss of initiative or desire to participate in any activity; apathy.
*A vague feeling of being disconnected from oneself or one’s surroundings; a sense of unreality.
*Unusual or exaggerated beliefs about personal powers to understand meanings or influence events; illogical or  “magical” thinking typical of childhood in an adult.
*Fear or suspiciousness of others or a strong nervous feeling.
*Uncharacteristic, peculiar behavior.
*Dramatic sleep and appetite changes or deterioration in personal hygiene.
*Rapid or dramatic shifts in feelings or “mood swings.”

"One or two of these symptoms can’t predict a mental illness. But a person experiencing several together that are causing serious problems in his or her ability to study, work, or relate to others should be seen by a mental health professional. Guidance counselors, teachers or classmates are often the first to notice symptoms."

So I ask everyone to be more aware, more sensitive, and more proactive toward our brothers & sisters who are dealing with mental issues. Let's become better equipped in our  families, communities, schools, churches, and culture at identifying those who may need our support. Let's work together in love and with a unified spirit so we can prevent further tragedy and heartbreak.

Mar 13, 2015

Selfied Out.

Selfied Out.

Self indulged generation
Needing instant gratification
An appetite that is never satisfied
Only appeased by views and likes.
Love is never far away.

Self exploited with no thought process
The products of living in excess
All the world they have gained
Yet history or math they cannot explain
Only Self they understand.

Self enclosed yet reaching for acceptance
Technology is so far advanced
Yet there's a disruption in our human development
Social media is a tool, not a replacement
There's nothing like a hug and a kiss.

Can they see beyond the looking glass?
Are they forever gone behind the screen?
A generation lost in a parallel world that happens to be from within.
Will they ever reach out to be saved?
Or will their salvation just become another viral sensation?