maryann-the-filipino-mom

The 3 BE’s I’ve learned from launching a blog

Before you read any further, I want to extend my deepest gratitude that you are actually on my blog and reading anything on here. Putting your feeling on full display isn’t easy and I am so blessed to have this platform. I appreciate your presence.

Hey TFM fam! The Filipino Mom blog is officially one month old. Wooohooo!!! (Yup I’m a “wooohooo girl”) To say that I have learned so much this past month is an understatement. I have so many feelings about just reaching this date. I can’t begin to describe all the feelings I am experiencing.

Walang Hiya

The biggest feeling I have is relief. I know that may sound weird but hear me out. The Filipino culture is big on saving face or “hiya ” (shame) to the family. Once I decided to create this blog, as I stated in “Don’t air your dirty laundry” post, I nervously warned my mom about why I wanted to create this blog. Her hesitated response was proof that there is a possibility that I would bring shame to our family. Yes that sounds absurd to those not part of our culture but that was a real fear.

So much so that I was having anxiety attacks prior to launch. There were many times that I didn’t want to go through with publishing the blog. Hence, the countdown and giveaway for blog launch. I had a time and date for launch to allow my anxious mind to prepare. It was the only way I could “control” the situation, actually launch the blog, and keep a generally sane mind. It helped.

I am relieved that this blog has been received, generally well, by the Filipino Community. So far, I haven’t heard any backlash, chismis/tsismis (gossip) from the Aunties, or random people on any social media platform. While I am absolutely aware that this blog is in its infancy, it still amazes me the amount of acceptance and support I have gotten in this short amount of time. I’ve received DMs from so many Filipinxs who expresses their appreciation that I have created a platform to encourage them to be their true self even in their most darkest spaces. If you are reading this and we have had conversations, know that I appreciate you more than you can fathom. You are encouraging me just as much with being here, reading this blog. Mental illness is very isolating and to know you are not alone in your struggles is truly a blessing to keep moving forward.

The 3 BE’s I’ve learned

While I am not an experience blogger at all. Like if you assumed that I know what I’m doing – here is the God honest truth — I DO NOT. I honestly haven’t even scratched the surface of what a blogger/influencer does on a regular basis BUT I have learned so many things about myself these past three months. YES even if the blog just launched a month ago, I’ve been working on it since the beginning of the year. Creating content isn’t instantaneous, guys. Its been a long three months and I want to share what I’ve learned with you because I feel that these lessons, while simple, have challenged my inner narrative about what I am capable of.

BEing a blogger is hard work

The learning curve to launch a blog is incredibly steep. Imagine, if you will, learning a new language in one week. That is exactly how I felt the moment I met with two friends to pitch the idea for this blog. Both friends’ eyes immediately lit up with excitement and told me this was a fantastic idea. “Cool, now what?” Thankfully, these amazingly talented friends have experience in content marketing and freelance writing. So they each gave me a crash course in what I needed to do in a timeline of immediately, near future, and down the road.

My brain (and anxiety) needs things broken down in those terms because if they aren’t I will do everything at once and then burn myself out. So I was intimidated by the terms and strategies – insert anxiety attack and hysterical crying here. I knew NOTHING and this seemed nearly impossible to even attempt.

Duh – nothing is impossible with God. SO I watched YouTube videos, read blogs, went to WordPress Word Camp (highly recommend by the way), stalked other bloggers I love, asked other bloggers/influencers I knew for advice, researched, cried, and repeat. The blog and social media platforms you see today are a culmination of all my work. While I am satisfied by the look, feel, and flow of the blog and social media platforms, I know I have a LOT to learn, research, and develop — like how in the world do you understand SEO and analytics. If you have recommendations, please send them.

BElieve in yourself

I have a very unforgiving depression/anxiety voice in my head. It is downright nasty. I would never talk to my kids, friends, family or husband this way. My anxiety stems from my fear of not being adequate enough to fill a roll — any roll — like being a wife, mother, friend, sister, coach, small group leader, anything — I am not adequate. YES I put up a great persona of knowing what I’m doing but I DON’T – guys, I’m winging life just like you.

I battled that voice on a daily basis while prepping for this blog launch. Am I looking for sympathy or a pat on the back? — NOPE. I want you to know that voice has no hold over you and what you are capable of. What it is saying to you is NOT true. It’s ALL a lie. All of it. You have already been told who you are in Christ. And, just in case you FORGOT, here are a few verses to remind you who YOU are in Christ:

I am God’s child. – Galatians 3:26
I am a whole new person with a whole new life. – 2 Corinthians 5:17
I am a place where God’s Spirit lives. – 1 Corinthians 6:19
I am God’s Incredible work of art. – Ephesians 2:10
I am totally and completely forgiven. – 1 John 1:9
I am God’s messenger to the world. – Acts 1:8
I am the light of the world. – Matthew 5:14
I am greatly loved. – Romans 5:8

Now don’t get me wrong, I still battle that voice everyday and I still have to talk myself out of my bed and turn on my laptop BUT I want you to know that you are absolutely capable of anything your heart desires. You have already been given everything you need to serve the world with your unique gifts. So go out and do it. Now.

BE yourself

I have always been insecure about my height, body shape, and after having five kids, my self perception is pretty low. Recently, I have been putting more of an effort at learning what clothes look good on my body, how to put on makeup to enhance my natural beauty, make new friends (thank God for MOPS) and exercising my body to raise my energy level. Why am I telling you this? Well its because I am posting photos of myself all dressed up and I normally don’t look like that 90% of the time. I’m usually in yoga pants, jeans, or legging with a top that usually has a stain on it because I can never eat food correctly; without makeup and just dry shampoo’d my hair. My stay-at-home Mom fashion game is strong and I want to transform into who Maryann is. In launching this blog, my insecurities became more apparent. So I have to remind myself AGAIN of God’s promises and that allows me to move forward with a little more courage.

I will never be a GoFitJo, Jordan Page, or Susie Styles, its just not who I am and I am ok with that. I am Maryann and I know I will find my place in this blogger world, I just need time. If you ever feel out of place, don’t get down on yourself, just give yourself more time to grow.

Get started

Ok enough about me! I want you to go out there and be the light of the world. I know you can absolutely change the world in your own unique way. It is what we were called to do. To help you do this, I have embedded two audio links to Rachel Hollis’ book, Girl, Stop Apologizing to PUMP YOU UP (If you said that in an Arnold Schwarzenegger voice we can be friends). I’m still getting through the book and seriously guys, its so good. Enjoy these excerpts and get started on that dream. I believe you can, so you should believe it too.

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Moxie and close rank formation

I adore Jen Hatmaker. I’ve been a fan of hers for years. She is a fellow mom of five like me, so she understands the organized chaos that is my life. She is an apologetically scatterbrained, down to earth Christian woman — my kinda friend. Her blog, books, and social medias are filled with so much realness, bible based learning and lessons about motherhood that I really believe she is talking to me. I know, I sound like a weird stalker fan but I swear there is a point to this story.

Last year, I was blessed to be able to attend the Moxie Matters Tour with my awesome MOPS Mommas. The tour was based on Jen’s latest book, Of Moxie and Mess. It is filled with so much encouragement that we can “live undaunted in the moment no matter what the moments hold, and lead vibrant, courageous, grace-filled lives”. Throughout the entire book, I laughed out loud and cried many tears.

Mothers of preschoolers

Also, if you don’t have a group of Moms that will love on you hard, I suggest you look for your local MOPS group now — go ahead, I’ll wait. Did you find one? Did you sign up? It is worth the awkward uncomfortable first meeting, I promise! You will love having a tribe of women to supporting you. Believe me, I was never the person to say join a moms group but here I am, converted.

The female elephant

Ok, I know total tangent. Back to the story! At the end of the event, Jen shared a story about female elephants and how they safeguard each other in times of vulnerability — under attack by predators or giving birth. The females in the herd turn their backs and create a circle around the elephant who is in need of extra support. They kick up dirt and stomp to ward away predators, becoming her protectors while she is defenseless. The circle is so tight that you can’t even see the elephant in the middle. When the baby elephant is delivered, the sister elephants do two things: they kick sand or dirt over the newborn to protect its fragile skin from the sun, and then they all start trumpeting, a female celebration of new life.

What can we learn from the elephants

This is perfect illustration of how we should support each other during times of distress. We should not shame those who need help. Instead, we rally around them, close rank formation, protecting those who need it the most. Mental illness is one of the most debilitating disorders you will endure. It skews your mind into thinking the worst things about yourself and corrupting your life, one lie at a time. I urge you to stand in close rank formation around those around you who are struggling. Be that persons –bodyguard, advocate, supporter, their number one sympathizer.

The world needs more individuals who rally hard for those they care about just like the female elephants. I challenge you to be that person today for someone in your life. Call, text, or visit them today.

Mental health awareness month

The month of May is Mental health awareness month. During the next 30 days, I will be sharing how to ask for help; resources and tools in the medical community; and alternative therapies. Whether you are seeking help or are supporting someone who needs guidance finding professional support, I urge you to come back and go through the series with me.

Who can you rally around? Have you checked in on them lately?

Remember – its ok to not be ok, tomorrow is a new day! See you next week.


Something is wrong with me

Self diagnosis was the beginning of my mental health journey. I had felt “off” for months and decided to utilize “Doctor Google” to confirm my gut feeling. While I do not encourage consulting the internet for every little problem — and maybe becoming a little bit of a hypochondriac in the process — it confirmed to me that I needed help.

something is wrong with me

Before I continue, I would like to help you take the first step in helping yourself by providing you with mental health screenings created by Mental Health America. These screening are very similar to those I have taken in the past. You can click on whichever screening(s) you like and you do not have to provide any information to the site. You can also explore the resources and tools as the website is easy to navigate.

Take a minute to help yourself. I will still be here for you, no matter the outcome. Were you aware of the current statistic — 1 in 3 people in the US suffer from a mental illness. I don’t have any access to the screening results. Everything is 100% confidential.

Mental health screenings

Depression Screening

Anxiety Screening

Bipolar Screening

Psychosis Screening

Youth Symptom Screening

PTSD Screening

Parent Test (based on child’s symptoms)

Eating Disorder Screening

Addiction Screening

Work Health Screening

No judgement, just love and support

Hi, I’m still HERE!

No matter the results you have received from the screenings, I am not here to cast judgement on you. In fact, my presence on this platform is the complete opposite, I am here to support you in any way possible with unconditional love, empathy, and compassion. This is the only way we can change the narrative, to acknowledge the issue and help others help themselves.

How can you change the narrative? Comment below.




What is mental health

Prior to my diagnoses, I didn’t know anything about mental health. It wasn’t something I had ever had interest in or cared to learn about. If someone I knew talked about their mental illness, I chalked it up to them being weak and thought they should “snap out of it.” Awful, right?

It comes as no surprise that this is also how the Filipino culture viewed mental illness — weak, crazy, something you can snap out of, unacceptable, stigma. My views were presupposed even before I could come to my own conclusions. I will discuss this view later on in my blog. For now, I wanted to give a simple understand of mental health and mental illness.

What is mental health

Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices1.

What is mental illness

Mental illnesses are health conditions involving changes in emotion, thinking or behavior (or a combination of these). Mental illnesses are associated with distress and/or problems functioning in social, work or family activities2 .

Myth vs. fact

Why you shouldn’t be ashamed of your mental illness

One of the first YouTube videos I found on mental illness was of Kristen Bell. She talks about her struggles very openly and an amazing advocate. I have said many times that I wanna be her when I grow up. In this video she explains perfectly why you should not be ashamed about your struggles.

Did you know that Kristen Bell had mental health issues? Does it make you think of her differently?

Now what

I am deep into my mental illness journey and have a new found respect for those suffering with any illness — mental or physical. Managing any illness daily is exhausting. I regret anything I have said to anyone prior to managing my own depression and anxiety. There have been opportunities in my life where I have apologized to those I have hurt with my words because of my lack of knowledge on mental health.

Next week, I will share how I ask for help from my husband and simple screenings for mental illnesses. So be sure to come back and continue the discussion.

Remember, it’s ok to not be ok, tomorrow is a new day.


Don’t air your dirty laundry

The most influential person in my life is my mom. She has taught me directly and indirectly how to live as a strong, independent woman. Talking to her — or warning her — about starting a blog on mental health, with emphasis on the stigma of it within the Filipino community, was terrifying.

“Don’t air your dirty laundry,” she reminded me again, like she had several times in the past.

For the uninformed, it is absolutely culturally unacceptable to talk about your struggles especially mental health in the Filipino culture. Many people think you’re “crazy” if you go to a therapist or psychiatrist. It is a shame upon your family if anything is “wrong with you.” Thus, you don’t talk about it and shove it all down.

Always a happy face

Growing up, my mom taught us to put on our “happy face” no matter the circumstance. We should tell people everything was good even when it wasn’t.

And, you know what? I don’t blame my mom at all for teaching us this emotional defense mechanism, as it has helped me cope with difficult situations throughout my life.

Bayanihan

Seven months after I gave birth to my son (the last of my five children), I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety. I shared the news with my mom and in-laws. I knew, at the time, I needed their support and acceptance of this diagnosis to get better. Sadly instead of supportive statements and empathy, there were several questions about if these feelings were “all just in my head,” to just “be happy,”  and if medication was absolutely necessary. Thankfully, as the years have passed, both sets of parents are becoming more accepting of my diagnosis.

This initial reaction from both sets of my parents, actually isn’t far from what I found in a qualitative study by BMC Psychiatry:

While bayanihan (helping one another in the time of need), is a huge part of Filipino culture, mental health is the exception. Those with mental health issues are often mocked, laughed at, ostracized, or conceal their feelings in fear of dishonoring their family.

Changing the narrative

I would like to change the narrative, starting with this blog. I want to help those suffering in silence, shame, and fear. These struggles do not need to be one person’s burden to carry. We Filipinos must extent the bayanihan spirit no matter the circumstance, specifically in mental health.

I hope you join me on this journey to break the silence and eliminate the stigma of mental health in the Filipino community.

Have you experience the same reaction? Comment or share this with someone who has.

Just know –  its ok to not be ok, tomorrow is a new day! See you next week.