Series: It’s not just you

One of the biggest reasons for creating this blog was to allow others to share their mental health journey, to show them and others’ that their struggles are more common than they assume. I put an email out to people I have spoken personally (at the beginning of the year) and asked them to submit their stories in discovering their diagnoses. After reviewing their submission, it became very apparent that mental illness is very prevalent in the Filipino community.

Suicide Prevention Month

September is suicide prevention month. I want to be 100% transparent and tell you that it will be a mentally hard month for me. I am preparing myself to feel all the feelings but also acknowledging those are past hurts that I must heal from.

Help is out there

If you or someone you know needs immediate help and is unsafe to leave the location, please reach out for help. Self harm is not the answer — ever. There are emergent resources available to you.

You can read about other ways you can seek help on my past blog series, Asking for help.

If you are wondering if you are suffering from mental illness, you can take any of the mental health screenings I posted in a previous post here.

My general self care tools

I’ve decided to be proactive find all my favorite ways to quiet all of the negative thoughts and actions. This has been my way of coping and managing my mind while living a full life. I have learned over time through trial and error, what feeds my soul and what drains me. After a few years of being more mindful, I have created a general self care routine that feeds my positive thoughts and propels me forward with hope. I am sharing my running list of tools and coping mechanisms in the hopes that it will jump start your own self care routine and find tools that work.

  • Exercising at least three times a week. 
    • my minimum amount of exercise is one mile on the treadmill or indoor walking path
  • Talking with people I trust with my feelings of sadness
  • Getting adequate rest
  • Limiting screen time
  • Reading or listening to self help books 
  • Talking to my therapist
  • Reassessing my antidepressant dosage
  • Listen to worship music
  • Spending time with my kids
  • Spending time with my husband 
  • Taking CBD or cannabis indica
    • CBD – Sublingual or as a vape pen
    • Cannabis indica – flower, vape pen, or oral consumption
  • Eastern medicine
    • Acupunture
    • Reiki
    • Ear seeds
    • Gut therapy
  • Guided meditation
  • Giving myself grace and limiting my movement through the day
  • Allowing myself to
    • Be sad, frustrated, overwhelmed, etc.
  • Not allowing myself to stay in a negative mental state for more than a day
  • Listening to past church sermons that resonated with me

Have you tried anything on my running list? I’d love to hear what works for you!

Support each other, heal our community

Could you please join me for the month of September by supporting those around you who need support AND asking for help if you are struggling? I believe reaching out, while extremely uncomfortable and difficult, is the only way we will be able to help those around us as well as ourselves. While the work to heal past hurts, hang ups, and habits is no easy feat, it will heal you and those around you.

Heal the world – Michael Jackson

Moms supporting moms

Come back next week as I share a story of one of my favorite bloggers and a person I am honored to call my friend, The Barefoot Preacher. Jennifer has dealt with chronic illness, melanoma, and parenting (and homeschooling) a child with special needs. Her journey while extremely difficult, shows how sharing your story helps heal those around you.

Remember – It’s ok to not be ok. Tomorrow is a new day!

Why MOPS is important to me

It has taken me over 11 years to realize how important it is to have a mom tribe. Absolutely pathetic, right? You see, I gave birth to my first child at the ripe age of 21. So while I was breastfeeding and changing diapers, my friends were partying and living their best lives. Do I regret having my kids at a young age? Absolutely not. Do I wish I had established a mom tribe early? Absolutely and believe me, I tried.

Early on in my motherhood journey, I tried multiple times to join mom group after mom group. I learned fairly quickly that I received more side eyes than invitations for play dates. I mean, guys, I look young for my age. So I would try again and the mom cliche wasn’t very welcoming. Don’t get me wrong, I had friends but most of them were single and kid free. I was just in a stage that they weren’t in yet.

Long distant friendships

I had a handful of friends who had kids but we were not local to each other. Life changes and busy schedules caused us to not talk on a regular basis. So our conversations would be few and far between. When we do have time to talk, it’s always interrupted by a kid who needs a snack. Why do they do that? Do these kiddos know the exact moment to be so needy?

When my oldest was at the tail end of middle school, I began a friendship with a couple moms at our elementary school. We soon hit it off and now we are a close as ever. There were many days were we would end up hanging out all day and plan to do the same the next day. It was glorious! Fast forward to 2016 and we decided to relocate, my two mom friends were crushed. I was crushed. It took so long to cultivate these relationships and now we will also have a long distance friendship.

Live a full life

The last therapy appointment before we moved out of California, my therapist was very blunt with me. She basically told me that I had to be open to changing how I interact with the world. I needed to live a full life and show my kids how to live a full life. She told me that I needed to get out of my comfort zone and find people to do life with in Arizona. Furthermore, she said if I didn’t, my depression would get much worse. So I mentally prepared myself to be more extroverted, start conversations, and find my tribe. 

Once we settled into our new home, I began to look for a community that I could join. The church we started to attend had a MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) group, so I decided to register. The group was full and I was waitlisted. I felt rejected. I know what you’re thinking – It’s not your fault that its full. Friends, I know that now but at the time I was longing for interactions outside of my house and my depression was rising by the day.

Anxiety is a liar

When a seat was finally available, it was midway through the Fall Semester. I was so nervous to walk into that meeting because I knew everyone was already established and comfortable with each other. Here I am again, the newbie. My table leader texted me the night before our meeting to welcome me to her table. She was also very welcoming when I sat down. Midway through the meeting,  my anxiety hit me like a ton of bricks. I felt excluded as everyone at my table began to talk about the play date from the week prior. I remember leaving the meeting in tears, called my husband and he reassured me that it would get better.

My half Fall semester and full Spring semester was rough on me mentally. I was always late the playdates and meetings because my anxiety was clogging up my mind. Those negative thoughts of worthlessness and pity were so loud. 

“Why would they be friends with you. You won’t make friends here. You should just leave.” 

Find your mom tribe 

Friends, I did not leave MOPS. I came back the following Fall and Spring semester with a determination to be stronger than my feelings of inadequacy. I got dressed, put makeup on, and forced myself to go even if my negative self talk was telling me not to. It was the best decision of my motherhood journey. 

Through the last two years, I have learned time and time again that while my negative self talk is strong, I am stronger than my thoughts. MOPS has taught me to believe in myself and my abilities. Each meeting brought me out of my hardened shell of protection. I am happy to report that I have a tribe of women behind me that I am very vulnerable with and they love me through it. I have shared so many intimate details about my life with my tablemates and you know what, they support me, hug me tight, and give me words of encouragement – every, single time.

This year I am on the leadership team as a Discussion Group Leader (DGL) and I am on a mission to pour not only into the women at my table but the entire MOPS group. Motherhood is hard. Marriage is hard. It is so much easier going through life with a bunch of women who will rally around you at the drop of a hat. While I have no idea how Christ is going to do that through me, I am ready and willing to do His good works.

Do it anyways

I will be the first to tell you to join MOPS because it has transformed how I view mom groups. It takes a special group of ladies to do that. I had given up and now I am a true believer. Having people know the authentic you is so freeing. I can’t stress that enough. What are you waiting for? Sign up for Fall semester now! 

If going into a new environment makes you sweaty and your heart race a million miles a minute, do it anyways. As a semi new transplant to the Valley, I can tell you I do more things that scare me than makes me comfortable. When you live in a new area, you have to accept that you will do a lot of new things. So I do everything with sweaty palms and a rapidly beating heart. This has taught me time and time again that I am stronger than my anxiety. Proving my anxiety wrong is a huge victory in the smallest of change.

You can do hard things

The reason I am able to create this blog is because of all of the times I challenged my anxiety. While failure is a constant fear, I know that trying and learning is more important. So thank you MOPS for teaching me what it means to live authentically. I am so happy God placed each and every woman in my life whether for a quick chat or extremely long text threads. I so appreciate all that my MOPS chapter has done to create such a welcoming environment. I wouldn’t be the Arizonian I am today without this group.

I hope this encourages you to join a moms group or seek healthy Christlike friendships with women in your area. You won’t regret it! Most MOPS Fall semesters are starting right now. If you haven’t already, find your tribe and love on them hard. It’ll be the best decision you will ever make.

Series: Our transplant journey to the desert – How are we doing now

Welcome back!

This is the final part of a series on our transplant journey to Arizona. If you haven’t read my first post for this series, you can catch up here.

We have officially lived in Arizona for two years now. I would love to say that our life is perfect in the East Valley but its not. As I said in my last post, we still endure hardships and obstacles. If I am being honest, probably the hardest life lessons we have learned to date as a family and individually. Not to say that we don’t love it here because we so love living in the Phoenix metro area. I believe its the best decision we have ever made for our family.

This move has been a huge learning experience for our family. Our overall family dynamic had not changed because we didn’t really depend on anyone else to help with childcare. I believe the biggest changes for us was the convenience of having family close by. Our biggest changes were in our finances, business opportunities, and overall environment.

Don’t listen to the negativity

The biggest obstacle we faced when we began our transplant story was the enormous amount of backlash we received from family. With the exception of a handful of family members, everyone told us we were making a huge mistake moving out of state. Only until recently has extended family been truly supportive and accepting of our move.

What we learned from this experience was to trust our gut and do what is best for our family. While we loved the convenience of living close to family, we knew that our day to day life would drastically change for the better once we moved to Arizona.

My husband and I also say that we became actual adults and also learned more about ourselves. Once we settled into our new life in the desert, we knew we would have to ensure our financial ducks were in a row. So we hired a financial adviser to help us navigate our present and future financial responsibilities. We are well on our way to creating a life and legacy for our kids. This also ignited passion projects that we had put on the back burner because of financial strains.

Open for business

Once we moved to the East Valley, I was able to acquire a remote position for a software consultant company based in the Bay Area. This gave me the ability to talk to adults and refresh my skills while still having the ability to be home with my son. While this sounds like an ideal situation, it comes with time management challenges and a toddler sitting on my lap while I finish a call. Surprisingly, remote workers are pretty common for those living in Arizona. I have met more remote professionals in this metro area than in California.

My husband graduated from a local gunsmithing college – YES its a thing – at the beginning of this year and has opened a gun broker company. He will now have the opportunity to serve those in the community while carrying out his passion. Gilbert is also very supportive of small businesses so the process of opening a business was seamless. This is absolutely something we could not do in the Bay Area with all of California’s firearms laws. I am so proud of all my husband has accomplished to open this business. Its no easy feat.

Lifestyle improvements

Before living in the East Valley, we lived in the East Bay in California. The city we lived in had a bad rap. After almost ten years of living in this city, we knew that we wouldn’t grow as a family and individuals without making a drastic change. It came to a point that my husband would tell me which gas stations, grocery stores, and fast food restaurants were not safe. Honestly friends, looking back, this was no way to live. Our kids deserved to live in an area that they felt safe in.

Now living in Gilbert, our kids experience things they never had before. They’ve gone to the mall without adult supervision; they are able to walk to their friends’ houses; they are able to walk home from school; and we feel safer in this community. Don’t get me wrong, there’s still crime in Gilbert but compared to the city we used to live in, we basically live in ‘Leave it to Beaver’.

Lifestyle in Arizona is slower. Whenever we have family or friends visit, they always express how nice people are in Gilbert. These are not isolated events, Gilbert isn’t nicknamed Kindness USA for nothing. I have learned to wave to my neighbors when they drive by my house; have a conversation with the person in front or behind me in line; and to be kind to complete strangers. This is one of the top three reasons why we love living in Gilbert. This town is very community based and you see it on a daily basis. Compared to the Bay Area where everyone seems stressed out and always in a hurry. We have learned to enjoy life in the desert as well as get to know our neighbors.

Building a community

One of the hardest things we left behind in the East Bay was our church family. This amazing group of individuals blessed our family with the foundation of a Christ centered community. Because of them, we have learned that the only way we were to survive in the desert without immediate family was to create a community of our own. We knew the first place to look would be a church in our town. It took over a month and emails to our California home church to find one that fit our family. Two years later, we are well immersed in our new home church and our relationship with Christ has grown exponentially.

My husband and I currently serve in multiple ministries while our kids serve the preschool aged kids on Sunday mornings. In doing this, we have created a group of like minded individuals who love God and love people. It has been a true blessing find our new church home.

Managing mental health

Mental health is still a big topic in our house. It has been a pretty rough two years adjusting to our kids’ new diagnoses but over time we have learned how to help them manage it and move forward. I am so proud of all the work my kids’ have done to speak about their needs and feelings. Navigating teenagers is hard enough and having teens with different diagnoses makes these formative years even more complicated.

My mental health is currently pretty stable. My depression has decreased but my anxiety has now become my biggest obstacle. I still have insomnia but the cannabis and CBD has helped me get more restful sleep. Which does help with my overall mental state. I have learned what tools work and how to manage on hard days. I am definitely working towards a more solidified workout routine and I feel that I am closer than I have ever been to being more transparent with what I need overall.

The future looks bright

Reflecting on our transplant journey has given me an appreciation for how my parents immigrated from the Philippines to the US. Leaving their native country, their family members, all they have ever known and moved to a foreign land in search of the ‘American dream’. While moving to another state is nowhere near as difficult as moving to another country, I appreciate why my parents immigrated and what they scarified to provide a better life for my siblings and I.

Sorry family, we are not moving back to California. We are able to provide so many more things in Arizona and a lifestyle that we only dreamed of. I believe wholeheartedly that God has huge plans for us here and I cannot wait to see what he has in store for us. If you are thinking about relocating out of California, come and visit us. I know you will be pleasantly surprised.

Interviewing a Filipino therapist

I am so excited to share this conversation with you!

Speaking with fellow Filipinos face to face about mental health is so difficult. Moreover, finding a therapist who understands the culture is even harder especially in the Filipino community. So when I found Roanne on Instagram, I was so excited to connect with her. We quickly hit it off via email and even more so during our video chat. Technology is such an amazing tool to connect like minded individuals. I’m amazed how much support is out there!

Interviewing Roanne was important to me because I wanted to hear her perspective and insight on mental health in the Filipino culture. She is able to give two types of perspectives – immigrant Filipino and psychotherapist – the wisdom she has is immeasurable and so valuable to our community. She gave me such insight on so many things about our culture that I didn’t understand. I am confident you will enjoy all of the nuggets of wisdom she shares. Please enjoy the audio interview below.

The Filpino Mom interviews Kalamansi Juice

Interviewing Roanne, psychotherapist, hypnotherapist & creator of Kalamansi Juice blog

About Roanne

Roanne is a pyschotherapist & hypnotherapist located in the Sacramento area. Her main focus is serving Filipinas and redefining what strong means. Her services include stroller sessions and online therapy. When she is not serving others, she is an amazing mom to her adorable twin girls and an amazing wife to her husband. Please support Roanne by following her on Instagram (@kalamansijuice4u), Facebook, and subscribe to her blog, Kalamansi Juice. You can even take a quiz to see what type of Filipino Mom you are and download her Ebook, 5 Pinoy Love Languages.

Continuing the conversation

What was your favorite nugget of wisdom Roanne shared? Please share in the comment section below! I’ve listened to the interview so many times and I hear new things each time.

Please join me next week as I conclude our transplant story with a two year update. So much has happened and I can’t wait for you to hear all about it.

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