MY OWN JOURNEY OF RECOVERY: MAY IS MENTAL HEALTH AWARENESS MONTH – Wendy Blanchard, M.S., CHHC, CPS

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. We all have mental health and it lies on a continuum. Depending upon what is going on within us, and around us, our mental health moves along a continuum for any given reason, on any given day, at any given time.

We must begin to normalize our symptoms because we all have mental health! We must begin to be educated about emotional literacy, and to normalize, and to validate, whatever it is that we are feeling. We are allowed to feel whatever we feel! Never let anyone say to you, “You shouldn’t feel that way,” or “Don’t think that way.” Offer yourself a safe space, perhaps with a trusted other, where you can share all that you feel, and be validated. When we are validated, and can validate our own emotions, we feel heard, and we begin to heal. Sometimes, all we need to know is that we are seen, and heard.

The reason that I do the work that I do in the field of mental health and substance use disorder, also a mental illness, is because I nearly died nine years ago from these co-occurring disorders. I had been living with severe symptoms for 40 years. A lifetime. I was too afraid to tell anybody what I was going through, and what I was feeling, and so I numbed myself with prescription drugs from age 14. The trauma that I experienced early on in my life, and ongoing, was never treated. I continued to suppress it all underneath the drugs. Over the years, I became emotionally bankrupt, physically deteriorated, and spiritually dead. I hit the wall going 90, and from the ground up, began to rebuild my life. This was my miracle.

A Course In Miracles, a metaphysical text, says that “a miracle is a shift in perception.”  When I hit that wall, it literally awakened me, and as I lay there, Spirit encouraged me to see things from a new perspective. I have been listening to every word, and following every action that Spirit has shown me ever since, knowing I am being Divinely guided, loved and supported.

I am now in my ninth year of “wellness,” aka my “Wellness Approach to Recovery.”

It is due to my passion for this cause in serving and supporting others that I continue to work diligently in the field of mental health to raise awareness and to eliminate stigma, as well as to be a conduit for others who are eager to experience lifelong wellness. People in the recovery community have asked me if my program is “evidence based.” I say, “I am the living evidence.”

Never again will I be quiet about this disease that nearly took my life nine years ago. I was severely addicted to prescription drugs, and suicidal for years, and by the grace of God one night as I asked Him to provide a way out, He saved my life. I made a promise to Him that night that “whatever path you put before me, I will follow.” I have always kept my word. He has always loved and supported my journey. I am never alone.

And…

As long as I have breath within me, you will never walk alone dear friend, and reader. I will share everything that I know to be true of my recovery experiences, my knowledge and wisdom, my holistic tools which are all natural and organic in nature, and my proven healing strategies. And if none resonates with you, I will guide you to a resource more suited to your needs.

If you are experiencing any symptoms, I urge you to reach out to me, or someone that you know and trust, and/or your primary care physician, mental health professional, or your local Mental Health Association or local hospital for support. There are so many choices and pathways to healing. There are available solutions that you may choose to leverage that may resonate with you.

Through perseverance and daily practice using these proven ways to achieve wellness through self care and spiritual solutions, I continue to thrive. Others may also need medication, or therapy, or hospitalization. Some may choose to combine holistic healing practices and traditional healing practices. Whatever it is that heals you, THAT is what your self care is.  Connecting with oneself daily in whatever spiritual practice that resonates with you is the key to experiencing your individual truth, and to promoting your own wellness.

Wellness is multi dimensional and treats the whole person on a cellular level. Wellness is the healthy practices we add into our daily lives, and not just about the absence of disease or illness. Healthy practices, daily, are a choice that has served me beautifully, and profoundly.

Mindfulness is one of the key ways in which we are able to “reset our mindset,” literally, and that which I practice daily.

Mindfulness strategies control our internal state. We can consciously control our breathing through mindfulness. Respiration and emotional arousal are linked in the brain. In every moment, your internal state is reflected in your breathing due to this connection in the brain. Your breath shows you how stressed you are in real time. You can use your breath to observe how you are feeling, and then begin to use your breath to de-escalate. Our breath is our most accessible tool to intervene with our physiology in real time!

And…

Exercise keeps your brain healthy and protects it against depression and anxiety! Moderate aerobic exercise increases the size of the brain’s hippocampus responsible for learning and memory! Even in people in their 50s and 60s!

In addition, exercise is instrumental in regenerating brain cells! A new study states that “high-intensity exercise can actually help your brain to create new cells, helping ‘rewire’ an addicted brain and aiding addiction treatment!” NEUROGENOSIS IS ALL ABOUT REGENERATING BRAIN CELLS! “The new neurons are from neuroblasts that are formed in the brain. Many neuroblasts end up dying off shortly after they are created, but some go on to form viable brain tissue.”

Email me at wendyblanchard044@gmail.com for more information on what you can do to begin your own healing process, and what may resonate with you, and/or how I can help you to achieve your health and wellness goals.

When we practice self care, and self love, we take back our power.

For organizations, agencies and school districts, please visit my website at www.harmonioushealth4life.com/trainings to view all of the mental health and wellness trainings, and mental health first aid, and suicide safety trainings that I provide, as well as all of the heartfelt testimonials, found on my “Testimonial Page” from many distinguished community providers, and members, clients, educators, psychologists, etc.

I am certified by the National Council for Behavioral Health, the Suicide Prevention Center of NYS, and the Office of Mental Health NYS, and have many other trainings and certifications in the field, including “De-Escalation, and Spiritual Wellness.”

It is my daily practice of self-care, most especially my devoted spiritual practice that affords me the opportunity to thrive in wellness, even when I am feeling unwell. It is always a choice to “be well.” Every day I re-commit to my wellness…one day at a time.

I am dedicated to opening up a dialogue on mental health, one that is ongoing and that which offers the facts backed by science…

Mental Illness is diagnosable, treatable, and manageable. Substance Use Disorder is a mental illness. (DSM-5) If we are willing to speak our truth, that will be our first step to healing. Our willingness to then live our truth is our greatest catalyst for change on a cellular level…body, mind and spirit.

There are many pathways to recovery, and if we go within, inherently we will know what we need to heal. And of course, we cannot do this alone. It is up to us to humble ourselves, and to ask for ongoing, lifelong support along our journey.

I am always here to be of service. Please, just ask.

Had I known of someone that I could’ve turned to in my decades of dis-ease, I would have asked for help a long time ago. Asking for loving support and guidance is your greatest form of self care.

“Self-care is the actions that we take to achieve wellness and wellness is where we stand in our power.”

Wishing you a beautiful and blessed week ahead.

Love and blessings,

Wendy