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Bringing Down Memorials to Rebuild Our Mental Health

Memorials Title in red with red, white, blue stars

Happy Memorial Day! We give honor to the lives of those who have lost their's through war, through sacrifice, through being a responder ... To the families of those who have lost their lives for the liberty of others (voluntarily or involuntarily), thank you for sharing your loved one with us and your continued strength and comfort are in my prayers.

In light of today being Memorial Day and the last Monday of mental health awareness month, I want to take a different look at memorials.

The dictionary defines a memorial as:

1. Something, especially a structure, established to remind people of a person or event;

2. A statement of facts, especially as the basis of a petition.

Throughout this weekend, you will see flags placed on tombstones, loved ones placing flowers at gravestones, or some sitting solemnly in reflection to commemorate the life of someone who meant something to them. But sometimes, we create our own memorials within ourselves.

We create memorials of negativity. We create memorials to the memories of past events. At some point we have to let those memorials go. I'm not talking about in terms of grief. Grieving is a necessary process, and it has no time limit. I pray that you are doing so in a healthy and healing way.

The memorials I am discussing are the ones in which we let self-doubt hinder us from growing or doing. The ones where we let someone else's opinions about us or what we were doing hinder what we ultimately chose to do. I'm talking about the memorials that we create to hide the things that we don't want to deal with. Those memorials. We all have or had them.

In my book Be the Overcomer, I talk about how I overcame depression by rebuilding and redefining my relationship with God. What I don't discuss is what I did in the meantime. To keep from thinking about being depressed or wondering if I was or even dealing with being depressed, I developed an unhealthy relationship with work. Work was not limited to whatever my 9-5 happened to be at that moment. At one time, I had three jobs and was looking for a 4th. There was a skit on the TV show "In Loving Color" called "Hey Mon" about a Jamaican family where everyone in the family had multiple jobs. Around the time I picked up job #3, my dad asked me if I was auditioning for the real-life version?! We laughed about it, but it was really him telling me to slow down and step back.

Growing up, I always heard, "An idle mind is the devil's workshop!" Maybe you have as well. So refusing to be idle, I stayed busy so that there was no way in the world that the devil had any space to play in my head. Until recently, most of my major accomplishments happened as a by-product of my running from depression. Got a master's degree, started a doctorate, led departments at work, started projects, and did big things all to not deal with being depressed. I dived into work, wrote curriculums, and changed curriculums; it really didn't matter what I was doing as long as my brain was engaged in some academic event.

Part of my ongoing learning efforts is because I am called to be a teacher. I know that. I have an above-average thirst for knowledge. Can't help it. However, it was also easy for me to hide behind that. It just became what I do and who I am. I never really stopped to think about the impact of all of that until the winter of 2018. There were no classes to take, I was returning from maternity leave, and I couldn't stand going to PD for any reason. I didn't care what it was. I was finally forced to deal with my memorial. The wall came down and I had to face it.

I share this for a few reasons. #1 - While the official end of Mental Awareness Month is Wednesday, don't let it be the end of your personal awareness of your mental health. Be vigilant about things that cause you stress or keep you in some kind of poor headspace.

#2 - It's time to confront your memorials. You can't move forward if you constantly hold on to the monuments that have been erected to keep you stagnant.

Growth can be both a choice and a mandate. Children grow up by the mandate of nature. You watch them go from infant to toddler, to small child, to big child, to teenager, to young adult, and then adult. It's going to happen regardless. However, growing emotionally, mentally, and spiritually are daily choices. The memorials keep you from developing growth in those areas.

Confronting memorials is not an easy task. Sometimes you need someone to work that out with you, and I'm here to help. Click here to get on my calendar and let's start the conversation.

PS, I don't write about anything I haven't done myself. To learn more about my mental health journey and how I've overcome my memorials, click the titles below:

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