The bible and mental health

In the recent months, our home church spoke about pertinent topics that many struggle with as human beings of this earth. What I appreciate about our church is the focus on bible based teaching. As a former Catholic, I never really read the bible and remained focused on the traditions of Catholicism. Growing up, I believed that God’s truths for me were conditional. Believing that someone would love me just as I am was a foreign concept. It is still a struggle today but I know the truth and press forward everyday to build my relationship with Christ.

With all that is going on in the world, I wanted to create a complication of sermons our church has spoken about so other’s may find comfort in His truths. Being a person in 2020 is absolutely exhausting – mentally and physically. I am thankful for my faith in Him and not in my own willpower. If you want to read more about how I am leaning on Christ during this hard season, please read my article in The Brave Collective digital magazine – Who is Jesus? Jesus is my beacon of hope.

I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.

– John 16:33

Life struggles

I have struggled with shame and guilt around my mental health as a Christ follower for years because I believed that I shouldn’t be sad or have hardships as a Christian, right?

Wrong.

Christ never said that we will be without difficulties, instead He gives us His grace, love, and new daily mercies – unconditionally.

Doubt

I was told as a child that I should never doubt or question God. As a teen exploring world around me, I wanted to ask so many questions but was silenced very quickly. My curiosity was deemed as being unfaithful. In turn, I stopped asking questions and began to doubt any presence of a higher being. It wasn’t until I began my own faith journey as a young adult that I learned that doubt was ok and God wanted us to doubt. This concept blew my mind! It helped me grow my relationship with Christ.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.

-Proverbs 3:5

Mental Health

I have heard many incorrect statements about mental health as a Christian.

“All you need to do is have more faith.”
“Just pray the mental health away.”
“You probably don’t believe in God enough.”

I want you to know these statements are not constructive for those who are struggling mentally. They actually do more harm than good. As someone who supports other’s in their mental illnesses, I would like to offer you a few helpful statements instead

“I’m sorry you’re struggling.”
“How can I support you?”
“How can I pray for you?” (Then pray for them right then and there)

The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.

– Psalm 34:18

Hope

I remain hopeful in this current season of unrest and uncertainty because I know who is in control. I pray these sermons have helped you and hope you even venture into other sermons our church has shared. It is through my faith in Him that I can share with you today.

I’d love to know which sermon resonated with you the most! Please share that with me in the comments.

As always – It’s ok to NOT be ok. Tomorrow is a new day!


Odd woman out

One year of blogging!!!!

Holy moly cannoli can you believe its already been a year!?!?!

A year ago, I knew this blog would create uncomfortability and an inward angst among the Asian community. I was (and still am) ok with that. I am not here to be a hero – or shero. I didn’t begin this work to be loved by all. If you know anything about the Filipino culture you KNOW that what I am doing goes against all cultural norms. We’ve been taught to stuff down our feelings and pretend everything is ok. Well I’m tired of pretending. I am over silencing my struggles. I’ve made my peace with being the odd
wo-man out. It was time to shed a light on the mental health epidemic even at the expense of my vulnerability.

What I wasn’t prepared for was the amount of support and like minded 1st and 2nd generation Filipinos that supported this journey. When I made this social media presence, I was floored by the amount of direct messages I would receive thanking me for being brave enough to share my story and create space for others to share theirs. I am so thankful for this community and all that it has given me. 

If we’ve had direct message conversations and we’ve never met before in IRL – I’m so proud of you for reaching out to me and being vulnerable. Keep reaching out!

If you’ve never reached out to me, just lurk, and get inspiration from my posts – Hi! Hello. I’m Maryann. Thanks for being here! I’d love to know what you enjoy about my blog and my social media platform. HMU let’s support each other.

If we’ve had IRL conversations where we cry, hug, laugh, and pray together – Hey thanks for being brave enough to talk in public with me. As you know, I’m extremely emotional in person and the fact that you braved all of my facial expressions and tight hugs means a lot.

I hope you continue to vocalize and support each other in our struggles. It is the only way we are going to heal ourselves, our community, and the world. Your voice matters! Thank you for being here. I appreciate you!

Accomplishments

I had no – zero – zilch – expectations for The Filipino Mom blog when I started it. I truly believed that the only people who would read my content would be relatives – to see if I was talking about them. Chismosa! The fact that I have been able to collaborate with so many amazing people and communities in a short amount of time is mind blowing. I am extremely humbled when people reach out and give me a platform to share my story. 

Outward

Many measure success by outward accomplishments. I am absolutely floored by what has been achieved by this blog in such a short amount of time. These stats absolutely humble me in the deepest parts of my heart. The fact that this blog can reach anyone and everyone means that anything is truly possible. 

Here are a few stats that I am extremely proud of for this blog:

Inner

I am most proud of the inner work I have overcome in the past year. While inner work is not an observable value others can visibly measure, my personal growth has benefited my everyday life in ways that extend farther than just myself. Conscious inner transformation is releasing old belief systems that I held on to since my childhood. I learned these survival strategies decades ago and as an adult, they no longer benefit my current life goals, aspirations or help me become my true self. While isn’t been a difficult few years of creating a new inner narrative. Once I was able to release the old beliefs, strategies, and tactics, I was able to accept a new belief system based upon facts and not my feelings. 

Confused on what in the world I am talking about? I know it’s hard to explain without vocalizing my thought process. Here is an example of one of my biggest belief system that held me back from doing- anything new. 

Does any of this sound familiar to you? Do you resonate with this mental obstacle I had? I’d love to help you talk through your thoughts about yourself. You can schedule a FREE 30 minute clarity session with me! I’d love to support you in moving towards your best self. You can also download my free Ebook to help you look at your life from a birds eye view. Its a great first step to creating a more impactful life.

Unconditional Support

Last but absolutely not least, I am extremely thankful for my group of family and friends who have supported me this past year – and really my whole life.

First and foremost, my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Thank you for never leaving me or allowing me to stray too far. Holy Spirit, thank you for knudging me towards things that I would not normally do and blessing my life (and my family’s lives) with so many wonderful people. I’m humbled by your renewing grace for and pray to be as selfless as you. Amen.

Thank you mom for being open and accepting of this journey of mine. I appreciate all the pep talks and words of wisdom you give me when I am at my lowest. Also thank you for being an amazing caregiver to dad.

Thank you dad for showing us what true perseverance looks like. Even at your most trying times, you have encompassed strength and determination.

Thank you to my sisters! I don’t think I would be who I am today without you. You have been my constant stream of support for as long as I can remember. While we are all living in different areas on the west coast. We still support each other with the help of technology. I appreciate you both sooo much and hope I make you equally as proud.

Thank you to my amazing friends, near and far! You have accepted me with unconditional support and open arms. I appreciate how you’ve put up with my crazy texting rants, uncontrollable tears, and loud laughter.

To my crazy bunch of kiddos, man you guys drive me bananas. Thank you for allowing me to grow along side you and figuring this mental health stuff out together. I pray your bravery heals your generation and the generations to come. Keep doing the right thing even if its hard. I love you guys!

To my church family, in California and Arizona, I don’t think I would have survived the last five years without you all. Your unconditional support, unceasing prayers, and tight hugs have given me the strength even on my darkest days. I appreciate each and everyone of you. I pray I’ve helped you just as much as you’ve helped me.

Last and certainly not least, my husband. You have picked me up off the ground while I’ve been in a puddle of tears. You’ve coaxed me out of bed on days when I wanted to disappear from this world. You love me despite the times I hate myself. I appreciate all that you do for me, for our family, and for yourself. I love you forever – and a day.

Moving forward

While I don’t want to share too much, I want you to know that there are so many things I have planned for 2020. More collaborations, more mental health talks, more real life struggles, and even more Jesus talk.

I hope you join me! I need all the help I can get.


It’s not just you – GAD

This post is part of a series on sharing individuals stories to help others realize, they are not alone. If you haven’t read the introduction to this series, please start here. It takes extreme courage to write your deepest struggles for all to read. This week’s post is a look back at a mom’s journey with GAD, general anxiety disorder. Did you know that anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the US, affecting 40 million adults ages 18 and older – WOW. This momma is very special to me because she is my younger sister. I am so proud of her sharing her truth. I pray that you connect with her story and know that you are not alone.

Two years before becoming a mom I had just started going to therapy for my GAD- General Anxiety Disorder (we will save that for another post). I went to individual therapy, group therapy, and tried every tool they taught me to manage all my anxiety and was adamant about not using medication when my therapist suggested it. I had a negative connotation and wanted to exhaust all other options before considering it. Once I got pregnant I went to see my therapist more frequently because well let’s be honest all those hormones and first-time worries definitely took over my anxious mind. Again, my therapist recommended medication but I wanted to continue doing everything I have been since it was working well during my pregnancy and I felt I had my anxiety under control. I was worried about the effects it could take even though I knew the medication was safe during pregnancy. Since I was mainly worried about postpartum depression I made sure to educate myself on the signs and told my husband what he could look out for if I needed additional support.

After preparing for postpartum depression (PPD), I ended up having postpartum anxiety (PPA). PPD is so commonly talked about and PPA isn’t. I had an emergency c-section with my daughter due to low amniotic fluid and her drop in heart rate. I still struggle with that because I wasn’t able to hold her when she came out and even after delivery I was too drugged out to want to hold her in fear I might fall asleep or hurt her. Like any first time mom I woke up every hour to check if she was breathing. When we finally were released to go home I was so anxious letting anyone see or visit my daughter because of fear she would get sick or catch something. For weeks I didn’t want to go outside with my daughter because of the fear of the unknown of what could happen to us or the judgment of others if she started to cry. I began to lose too much weight and my milk supply started to decrease because I wasn’t eating healthy, sleep deprived and constantly obsessing over my daughters’ weight and how long she would latch.

Over time I noticed all my tools I learn in the past were no longer working. I remember the first mom’s therapy group so clearly. I stood in the back baby wearing praying she wouldn’t wake up and start crying. I watched all these well put together women play with their babies and speak about their goals, struggles, and wins. As I watched them I began to cry because I didn’t have that confidence and all I wanted to do at that moment was to go home back into my safe space. I knew I wanted to get where they were but it just seems like such a far goal. I started to think about all the tools I learned in therapy and realized it wasn’t working. That’s when I knew I needed to do more for my daughter. I knew she didn’t deserve a mother who was struggling and I knew I deserved to be in the present with her and not worrying about the future.

I started medication 3 months postpartum and it was the best decision I have ever made for my daughter, for myself and for my family. I still have moments of anxiety but those tools that didn’t work before work now. I am able to break that anxious cycle, let go of the guilt, be in the present and that alone is worth everything. I know I will face more challenges as a mother and will have to learn new tools and ways to cope but I am glad I took the necessary steps for my mental health. I would do anything for my daughter and my family. That’s why I’m so happy to be apart of this motherhood community. I don’t think I would have been able to get through my PPA without the right support system. I’ve learned through online mom groups, therapy groups, and mom friends that we are all in this together.


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.