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.


Self Injury

If you are easily triggered by discussions around self injury, self harm, self mutilation, or suicide.

Please skip this post. 

Were you aware that March is Self Injury Awareness month

I’m just going to be really upfront and say that this subject triggers me in the most stressful way. I hate talking about it. It is probably the hardest thing for me to talk about and even write about. So why do I bring it up? Why put myself through something so immensely uncomfortable?

I bring it up because I have experienced thoughts of suicidal ideation. I have a child who has expressed suicidal ideation. I have a relative that took their own life. So YES this subject affects me because I have experienced it in the most intimate ways possible. I never want anyone to experience the pain I have felt. So I will talk about it until it is no longer hard to talk about.

What is it?

Self Injury Awareness Month recognizes that self harm happens across all genders, races, beliefs and ages1. As per Doorways an Arizona counseling clinic, here are some common questions surrounding self injury. 

What Forms Does Self-Injury Take?2

There is a variety of ways to inflict self-injury. The most common methods are skin cutting (70‑90%), head hitting or banging (21-44%), and burning (15-35%). Less common ways of inflicting self-harm include scratching so that bleeding occurs, punching objects or oneself, breaking bones purposefully, inserting an object into a body opening, and drinking a harmful liquid such as bleach. Most individuals engaging in NSSI hurt themselves in more than one way. For instance, many “cutters” also suffer from an eating disorder.

What Causes Teens and Young Adults to Injure Themselves?

People who self-injure report a variety of negative feelings—they may feel one or more of the following: empty inside; lonely; bored; fearful of intimate relationships; unable to resolve interpersonal difficulties; unable to express how they feel; misunderstood by others; under or over stimulated; afraid of responsibilities. Read this National Institutes of Health (NIH) report entitled Nonsuicidal Self-Injury in Adolescents.

Physical Pain and Psychological Pain

Self-abuse is used as an outlet to relieve psychological pain. It may also be regarded as a means of exercising control over one’s body when you have no control over other aspects of your life. Unfortunately, relief is only temporary, and without appropriate treatment, a self-sustaining cycle often develops with urges to self-injure growing in frequency and becoming harder to resist.

Self-Injury and Suicide

While those engaging in non-suicidal self-injury do not mean to commit suicide, they may bring about more harm than they intend and end up with unanticipated medical complications. In severe cases of self-injury, the sufferer may become so desperate about the addictive nature of their behavior and their inability to control it, that they carry out a true suicide attempt.

What are the Warning Signs of Self-Injury?

If you are a parent, the appearance of unexplained or inadequately explained frequent injuries such as cuts, burns, or bruises, should definitely trigger concern. Don’t simply take at face value “I fell” or “The cat scratched me.” Be aware that your adolescent will attempt to conceal these physical signs of self-abuse with clothing, so pay attention if they start wearing inappropriate clothes such as pants or garments with long sleeves in hot weather. The physical symptoms will go hand-in-in hand with one or more of the following: low rate of self-esteem; difficulty handling feelings; avoidance of relationships; relationship problems; poor functioning at home or in school.

What is the Treatment for Self-Injury?

Effective treatment for self-injury sufferers usually takes the form of a case-appropriate mix of cognitive/behavioral therapy, interpersonal therapy, and medication. In difficult to treat cases, other treatment services may be necessary. These could include partial-inpatient therapy of several hours per day or even hospitalization under a specialized self-injury hospital program. Services for accompanying problems such as eating disorders or substance abuse should be integrated into the treatment, depending on individual needs.

Seek a Professional Diagnosis

A teen or young adult who engages in self-injury should be evaluated by a mental health professional. Self-abuse behaviors may be symptomatic of other mental disturbances such as personality disorders (especially borderline personality disorder), anxiety disorders (especially obsessive-compulsive disorder), bipolar disorder, major depression, and psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia.

If you or someone you know is having thoughts or plans of self harm, reach out to someone you feel safe with immediately and call 911. 

If you can not think of a person you can trust, here are resources for you to get immediate support you need. Self harm is not the answer – EVER. There is hope even if it doesn’t feel like it.

  • Call your local law enforcement  or dial 911
  • National Suicide Prevention Hotline 1-800-273-8255
  • Lifeline Chat
  • Veteran Crisis Line 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1
  • Veterans Crisis Chat 
  • Hospital Emergency Room
  • Mental health facility 

Out of the Darkness

Last year was the first year I’ve fundraised for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention – Out of the Darkness Walk. I was extremely emotional that day but I had to walk in person because I knew others needed to know they were not alone in their suffering. I walked in honor of my relative who took his own life. I still have my beads and bib from that day. It actually hangs in my closet where I can see it to remind me why I am so vocal about mental health.

I am walking again this year because it is important to me, my family, and to our community. If you would like to join my team or donate to AFSP, here is my donor page. My goal this year is $750! I’d love your help with donations, prayers, and getting the word out. 

Resources

If you want further information surrounding mental health, substance abuse, or self harm. I have linked some very informative sites. 

Remember – It is ok to NOT be ok. Tomorrow is a new day!


Why: Serve

I became a Christ follower 20+ years ago. It was the best decision of my life. That is not to say that I have not experienced hardships in my life. In fact, I would never describe life as easy. However, believing in something bigger than yourself – a higher power, the universe, etc – creates a belief that there has to be a purpose for everything. My belief in a “higher power” is in our Lord Savior Jesus Christ. There are many instances in my life where there is no explanation than a divine intervention – God’s timing.

I have shared a portion of my testimony in my post, He Never Fails. I would love for you to read that to see a small glimpse of how Jesus has changed my life. I have experienced so much of Christ’s love, mercy, and compassion from others that I wanted to give others’ the same experience of His divine intervention by helping them meet, know, and follow Jesus.

But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must be the slave of everyone else. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give His life as a ransom for many. – Mark 10:43-45

To serve

For those who are not familiar with the term “serve” as it pertains to a church environment, to serve is to volunteer your time in particular ministry at the church you regularly attend. The amount of time you usually serve can be as little as 45 minutes as a person who greets guests to facilitating a bible study group, every week. Requirements for volunteering your time is usually a background check and a heart to serve. The beauty of serving is that there are many ministries in the church that need volunteers from the nursery to making coffee to greeting guests to keeping the campus safe. Whatever your interests are there is a ministry that would love for you to step in and show Christ’s love through service.

Our family has been serving at our home church from the moment we started attending. We knew that getting plugged into a church was high on our priority list especially since we were moving to a new area where we only knew one family. Joining the service team has allowed us to make friends, serve our local community through service projects, and most importantly, grow our faith.

Community

I currently serve in multiple ministries as a personal choice. Each of these ministries have helped me deepen my faith in Christ as well as cultivate relationships with other Christ followers. It also fills that part of my soul that always felt as if it was never satisfied until I found Christ and began to share my testimony. As humans, we are innately drawn to seek community and a deeper understanding of the big picture. Both of these internal needs can be met a your local church.

I serve on the leadership team for Mother’s of Preschoolers (MOPS) ministry, as a small group co-leader for a monthly meeting for Moms for Mental Health, and as a coach to small group leaders in the tween ministry. I also serve in multiple other seasonal ministries such as a week long summer church program similar to Vacation Bible School and the women’s Christmas event. Each of these ministries are very close to my heart as they were different seasons of my life that I really leaned on the church for guidance as a mom with lots of little.

These ministries allow me to share how Christ’s love, compassion, and grace has shown up in my life and the life of my family with those who participate in each ministry. Every time I have participated in a small group, local outreach or church event, my heart swells with thankfulness because I had met an individual who had never been to church before or helped pray for a mom who is just overwhelmed by her current circumstances.

Just show up

Are you interested in serving at your local church but don’t know how? Well the easiest way to start is to ask someone who serves there already or contact the office and ask. Chances are they will share their testimony of how serving has impacted their live in an extraordinary way.

One of the biggest commitments that comes with serving is just showing up. While it is absolutely normal to not want to attend church on a regular basis especially to serve a bunch of people who don’t know you, know that your presence is deeply needed week in and week out. Your unique testimony could help someone you greet or even talk with. This simple interaction can change the trajectory of their life and all you did was show up and be yourself. So just show up and see how the Holy Spirit will move through you to bless someone else’s life.

Remember – it is ok to not be ok. Tomorrow is a new day!


Believing in me

The last 10 days have been rough on me – mentally. I have been dealing with balancing all of my commitments – required and volunteer – and unspoken expectations – of myself. To be very honest, there were many times when I had intrusive thoughts going through my mind and that is when I knew I need to shift my focus on tangible aspects of my life. Do not be alarmed, I am in a safe mental space, not a harm to myself or others and have supportive individuals around me.

The reason I am sharing this raw part of me is because this is what happens when you challenge a belief system that no longer serves you. Your brain wants to fight you tooth and nail because it 100% believes that the current belief system is the only truths in your life. So I am challenging myself and it hasn’t been going well.

HOWEVER, today I woke up feeling empowered and ready to tackle today’s challenges. What changed? My mindset. I allowed myself to feel all the feelings and move through them. Then I talked myself through those feelings, acknowledging that these beliefs have kept me safe for 39 years of my life BUT they are no longer helping me evolve into the best version of myself. They have helped me survive but not thrive. Friends, I want to thrive and be the best version of myself. This transformation will be the hardest thing I will ever do for myself but I know it will be worth it.

So if you are struggling through a transformation, know you are not alone. You will get through it because you are strong, courageous, and capable.