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Am I Tripping?!

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Since it’s mental health awareness month there’s been a lot of conversation around mental health, which is bomb because it’s definitely needed. With me being your very own mental health plug, I want to put you on some more game on something that’s not discussed often when it comes to mental health.

Cognitive Distortions! What’s that you ask? Lets break it down. Cognitive is a fancy term for thinking, your thoughts, etc right? Distortion is the action of giving a misleading account or impression. Put those two words together it basically means ways your brain lies to you. I know our brain is like the mitochondria of the human body but it does trip sometimes, especially when you have a mental diagnosis such as anxiety or depression.

In short, Cognitive distortions are basically when you have to ask your friend; “Tell me if I’m tripping…” and this thinking can also highly contribute to negative emotions.

There are many different types of cognitive distortions so lets go over them real quick…

1.     All or Nothing Thinking: This thinking is when you see things in black and white. If you fall short of something then it’s an automatic failure to you.
Example: “I got a B instead of an A on my paper so I’m a total failure at life”

2.     Over-generalization: This thinking is when you see a single negative event as a never-ending pattern.  If you over-generalize you may find yourself using the words “always” or “never” a lot.
Example: “This always happens to me in relationships, I will never find the right one for me”.

3.     Mental Filter: You pick out one negative thing and dwell on it. Also meaning you suck at taking constructive criticism.
Example: “Everyone said I did so well but this one person told me I could’ve done better at this. I did horrible.”

4.     Discounting the Positive: When you reject positive experiences. This can also be rooted in imposter syndrome.
Example: Someone gives you a compliment on something you did well & you respond that anyone could’ve done it, discounting your work.

5.     Jumping to Conclusions/Mind-Reading: I know most of my ladies can relate to this lol. This thinking is when you interpret something as negative when you have no proof or evidence.
Example: “Oh he didn’t respond to me so he must hates me”

6.     Fortune Telling: When you anticipate things will turn out badly.
Example: “I already know once I make it there someone is going to piss me off”

7.     Magnification: You exaggerate the importance of your problems while minimizing your desirable qualities.
Example: “If this didn’t happen I would be in a totally different place” while ignoring that you’re still in a good position.

8.     Emotional Reasoning: Assuming that your negative emotions reflect reality.
Example: “Well I feel this way so it must be true”

9.     “Should” Statements: When you tell yourself things should be the way you hoped them to be.
Example:“I should be here by now” “He should’ve known better”

10. Judging: Instead of saying it was a mistake you call yourself a “dummy” or say something else that is emotionally loaded.
Example: “I’m a dumb ass for doing xyz” “I’m a horrible mother”

So as you can see there are MANY ways we lie to ourselves and even self-sabotage. Have you ever experienced any of these cognitive distortions?  This is a safe space, share your thoughts & experiences in the comments!


The Truth is... Everything Really IS about Race

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If you’ve been following me for a while then you may know that I talk about African American mental health often. This is a topic that I’m so interested and passionate about because it’s so many factors involved. In honor of black history month, I think it’s important to discuss the history of the black state of mind because although it is resilient it’s also a traumatic one. These are just my opinions with factual history evidence so I can't speak for everyone but I am speaking from my own experience and how it has directly impacted generations in my family. I'm hopeful that I am able to connect the dots and make this relatable to others who have experienced similar oppression. So heads up, if you are not comfortable reading about slavery, systematic racism, etc then stop here.

One of my pet peeves is when people say ‘everything isn’t always about race’ because when it boils down to it…... *whispers* everything really IS about race. If we look at the foundation of America it was built on racism and genocide… and THAT alone affected the mental health of ALL parties involved. So yeap that means white people were affected as well.

First, let’s talk about the science part of it, which won’t be long because that’s really not my area of expertise but I do want to give your some research to back this up. Trauma, trauma is horrible right? Trauma is defined as a deeply distressing or disturbing experience. Research has proven that when a child experiences trauma that they also experience a high amount of stress which causes damage to the temporal lobe in their brain. Children with this type of damage suffers from severe emotional and cognitive problems as well as have difficulty in making and/or sustaining positive relationships. This type of damage doesn’t only affect the child but if the child grows up and reproduces, it affects generations after that. This is called epigenetics. Epigenetics is basically how the experiences of the previous generations in our family can affect who we are today. So just like high blood pressure and diabetes have been passed down from generation to generation in the black community, the same thing goes for our mental health. The good news is, just like fitness and healthy eating is becoming more common in the black community and is reducing the percentage of the diseases, we can do the same thing with mental health if we start to take it seriously.

A lot of psychiatrist would consider this generational trauma, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, but a black doctor actually developed the term Post-Traumatic Slave Syndrome, which is honestly a better fit. PTSD diagnosis refers to one single traumatic event and with African-Americans, we definitely didn’t experience just one. As defined by Dr. Joy Degruy, Post-Traumatic Slave Syndrome a condition that exists as a consequence of centuries of chattel slavery followed by institutionalized racism and oppression have resulted in multigenerational adaptive behavior, some positive reflecting resilience, and others that are harmful and destructive.

So yes slavery was the peak of our trauma but let's also consider what followed us centuries after slavery as the RESULT of slavery: institutionalized racism, single parent households, oppression, systematic racism, internalized racism, gang violence, “war on black people drugs”, and the list goes on and on. The trauma didn’t just stop at slavery, the shit definitely kept going. That’s why PTSS is so fitting.

So, let’s just look at the timeline of African-American oppression

When you look at it it’s crazy how it wasn’t THAT long ago right? Let’s break it down in a brief overview.

  • 1619-1865: Chattel Slavery (being sold as personal property)
  • 1865: Abolished slavery 
  • 1866: Convict Leasing, which is basically a fancy name for slavery. Ain't shit changed. (insert link) | Sharecropping | KKK & Lynching 
  • 1915-68: “The Great Immigration” and the urbanization of blacks. Segregation
  • 1968-1975: The ghetto and welfare. One of the welfare rules is “no adult men in the home”. Drugs, crime, and family disintegration. 
  •  1975-1990: Hyperghetto & Prison. (Extreme poverty, modern day slavery, police brutality)
  • 1985-Present: Institutionalized Generation. (The things we are currently experiencing)
  • Oh & let’s not forget how the black community’s infant mortality rate is directly connected with our trauma. Long story short, a white man did a bunch of crazy ass experiments playing with black women's organs and just the history of doctors not believing us when we are in pain has dramatically affected our child-rearing.

Many would think that our continued trauma was all unintentional but I don’t believe it was. Let’s dial it back to slavery. It was a point where African-Americans were rebelling against their slave owners but Willie Lynch calmed all that down. Willie Lynch wrote a famous letter that instructed slave owners how to control their slaves, that affects us to this day. Here’s a youtube video summarizing it here. Basically, Willie told them to separate us by the tone of our skin, remove the black man from the home, etc to keep us separated. Willie said this because he knew we are stronger together. Let me repeat that, he knew that we are stronger together. The craziest part about the Willie Lynch letter is that he stated that if the slave owners followed his rules that they would have control over the blacks for at least 300 years. The letter was written in 1712, the “curse” ended in 2012. That’s hella recent right? It also makes sense, we had a black president during that time and I feel like that’s when we really started protesting and speaking out in the media. Yeah we had Martin Luther King Jr & Malcolm X but the revolution that we are currently experiencing is very different from what happened back then partly because we have technology and more education on our side.

So what does all this mean? It means black people never caught a fucking break and this dramatically affected our mental health individually and as a whole. Not one. We never got a chance to heal from our traumas. Hell, we became so use to the trauma it felt normal to us. Black people are smart, don’t let these statistics tell you any different. We were basically dumbed down by our oppressors. We come from a country where we were kings & queens. Slavery and the traumatic events that followed stole our history, innocence, families, and intelligence. They purposely did not want us to learn how to read, write (in their language), and do math which explains why so many African-Americans are diagnosed with learning disorders such as dyslexia.

As for white men, they suffer as well. They experienced trauma too even if it was from the other end. White men has a history of oppressing other races, sexualities, and genders since they set foot on Native American soil. Murdering is also included in oppression, and they did a lot of that unfortunately. Murdering is a form of aggression. Aggression can be learned so if you come from a family that has a history of aggression you have a very high chance of becoming aggressive too. For an example, what race do you see shooting up schools, malls, killing their wives/families, etc the most? ……. Yeah, it’s a correlation right? Not saying other races don’t do these things as well but the percentage of white men committing these crimes are much higher. That shit is in their epigenetics but it’s possible to change that, if they WANT to change it. Also, don't get on the subject of black people committing crimes and black on black violence because,

For one, when it comes to most blacks, those crimes were committed for survival. For two, we were turned against one another by the white man to begin with.

Anyways back to the culture. All this trauma doesn’t mean there’s not any hope for us because I am so happy and proud that the black community is finally having conversations around our traumas, mental health and also getting treatment. We can honestly thank social media for that because this whole wellness movement is really taking off and it’s influencing many African Americans to do some self-reflection and healing. Some may say that this wellness movement is influencing people of all races which is true but it’s different for the racial groups that are victims of oppression.

So to wrap this post up, everything does have to do with race because our race is directly linked with our genetics and our genetics plays a huge role in our characteristics which we use for survival. That doesn’t mean African-Americans and other minorities needs a sympathy card but the oppression that goes on in this country does need acknowledgment. Not that “slavery was so long ago” “well I experienced oppression too as a white woman/gay man” type of acknowledgement but the US actually taking responsibility for what was done. In Germany for an example, they admitted their wrongdoings with the holocaust and the victims actually receives repercussions because of it. In school, slavery was taught as if someone else did it and we don't receive any type of repercussion, not even a damn tax deduction. Then on top of that, most people won’t even recognize what minorities currently experience as oppression when it clearly is. Oppression affects everything, mental health, learning styles, development, family dynamics, social class, and the list could go on. Next post, I will go into more detail about the mental health side of things rather than the history. Please share your thoughts below in the comments.

Love & Light,


Yoga as a Form of Self-Care

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I’ve noticed that the media has gotten ahold of the term ‘self-care’ and has taken off running with it honey. I’m happy that the conversation around self-care is growing but it’s also important to remember, self-care just doesn’t consist of spa days and getting your nails done but it’s more about developing healthy (and inexpensive) ways to cope with the stressors that’s guaranteed to happen in life. If you’ve haven’t noticed yoga is my form of self-care. For me, yoga takes me to a place no one else can access. Yoga gives me a break from this crazy world and allows me to get my shit together, mentally.

Yoga can be a form of self-care for you too. I’m sure if you’ve never done yoga before your first question would be ‘what is yoga’? In the media yoga has been betrayed as basically stretching. In the religious community, yoga has been portrayed as another form of religion. That could or could not be true, depending on YOUR viewpoint. In short, yoga is whatever you make it. Yoga isn’t a spiritual practice unless you incorporate your own spiritual beliefs into it. Yoga does consist of stretching but there are other aspects involved depending on the type of yoga that’s practiced.

So the first step in using yoga as a form of self care is to ask yourself, “why do I want to start yoga and what am I looking to get out of it?”. Based on your answer you can then research what type of yoga would be best for you to do to meet your needs. There are many different types of yoga

The next step is to, of course, find the type of yoga you would like to start practicing. Below there’s a brief description of the top 8 most common types of yoga.
  •    Hatha yoga: Hatha yoga is a slow paced style of yoga that focuses on controlled breathing and holding postures for a short time. This type of yoga is best for beginners.
  •    Iyengar yoga: This type of yoga is all about alignment and poses are held for a long time. This style uses props such as blocks and straps to perfect the student’s form. This type of yoga is good for people with injuries.
  •    Kundalini yoga: If you’re looking for more of a spiritual experience with yoga this type of for you.  Kundalini focuses a lot on meditation, chanting, and breathing.
  •  Ashtanga yoga: This type of yoga is also known as power yoga. This form a yoga is more for seasoned yogis because it requires a lot of physical demand.
  • Bikram yoga – this type of yoga is a 90 minute class where you move through the same 26 postures. This is a good yoga to start out with but personally I eventually became bored with the repetition.
  •   Yin yoga - targets both the deep connective tissues between the muscles, and the fascia throughout the body. The aim is to increase circulation in the joints and improve flexibility as the poses stretch and exercise the bone and joint areas. It also helps us to regulate the body's flow of energy. This is also a good type of yoga to start out with
  •   Vinyasa yoga: My favorite type of yoga. This is the type of yoga that I teach. This type of yoga essentially means movement synchronized with breath and is a vigorous style based on a rapid flow through sun salutations. Vinyasa yoga is very diverse depending on the studio and the teacher. It can be fast, slow, hot, or warm. There are also different levels within this style of yoga such as beginner to advance.

Regardless of what type of yoga you choose to start out with you want to make sure you find a few teachers that you connect with. If you don’t connect with the teacher or the class it will be very difficult for you to start enjoying yoga. I would suggest even hopping around a few studios to see what you like. I can’t promise yoga will work for you because everyone is different and may need another form of self-care but if you start exploring different options you will eventually find what works best for you. If you have any questions please feel free to comment below.

Love & Light,Dev.

Rap & Drugs

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It caught me off guard when I found out Mac Miller passed away via overdose. I was so shocked because he was so young, talented, and definitely left this earth way too soon. I’m praying, sending love and light to everyone that’s been affected directly and indirectly. Miller’s death brought up some topics that’s not discussed often and it made me noticed how many people really do not understand substance use.

The clinical term and definition for someone who is addicted to using drugs is:

Substance Use Disorder – a disorder where the individual has a problematic pattern of using alcohol or another substance that results in impairment of daily life or noticeable distress.

Many refer to people with substance use disorders as “addicts” or some may say substance abuse disorder. You typically want to stay away from using those terms because some people may find it offensive so to be politically correct its best to say, “someone that has a substance use disorder” or “someone that struggles with substance use.”

Substance use disorder is a hell of a demon. Substance use has broken up homes, families, and communities. That alone should show that at some point using drugs is not a choice for some people. Some people can use a drug once and not have the urge to do it ever again while others may use a drug once and become addicted. It varies from person to person and sometimes you can predict if someone is likely to develop a substance use disorder from their family’s history of substance use. So if your mother, father, granny, papa, or someone in close relation struggles or struggled with substance use it is very likely you have the genetic trait to develop the disorder as well.
Some symptoms of substance use disorder are:
  • Getting more lit (drunk/high) than originally planned. (Yikes, I’m sure we’ve all been there)
  • Spending hella money and time on buying/using drugs/alcohol or doing whatever it takes to get them.
  • Putting yourself in dangerous situations to use the drug/get the drug.
  • Use of substances causes you to not fulfill your responsibilities such as making it to work
  • You begin to crave the substance often. “I have to get high in order to eat.” “I NEED a drink I had a stressful day (everyday)”
  • Continuing using even when it starts affecting your health.
  • Repeated use of the substance in a dangerous situation. * Drinking & Driving.
  • Tolerance begins to build.
  • Experiences withdrawal symptoms after stopping us. *anxiety, irritability, insomnia, nausea, fatigue.
Substance Use Disorder can often accompany other disorders such as anxiety and depression. Seeing these disorders together is tricky sometimes because someone can have depression due to a substance use disorder or have a substance use disorder due to depression. It’s a total mind f*ck, I know. It confuses me sometimes & I have a master’s degree in this. That’s why it’s always best to go see psychiatrist if you feel like your mental health or quality of life is declining.
Substance use disorder is such a tricky mental diagnosis even with all the research that has been done with it. Long story short, research has found that when people with substance use disorders uses a substance they experience a part of their brain responding to the drug in a particular way and it feels really good to them. People with substance use disorders are addicted to that feeling and experiencing that feeling becomes more important that working, eating, taking care of their children and even sometimes living. It’s difficult to understand why it affects people differently but it’s still important to understand that most people that struggle with drug use simply can not help it. Although it’s possible to beat it, it’s still a hard battle to win for some. If you know someone that’s struggling with drug use reach out to them. If you know someone that’s been sober, congratulate them and tell them that you are proud.
It’s unfortunate that rap music in way glorifies drug use and it definitely influences people to use but in the same breath, it’s not the only thing to blame. It’s clear that most rappers struggle with their own substance use disorders and maybe even depression and/or anxiety. Music is typically an outlet for a person and it also reflects their life. So these rappers are honestly just rapping about things that they are struggling with. It’s not an excuse, I just believe blaming rap music on the reason why people have substance use disorders is like saying someone is depressed because they seen someone on TV that’s depressed. I believe it’s more of people with substance use disorders relating to rap music because of they share the same struggles. I’m not saying there’s no influence from rap music but it’s not to blame for people struggling with drugs. In all honesty people have been struggling with substance use before rap music and before it was viewed as “cool”. I do believe the nature of rap music needs change and I have been noticing more rappers are breaking the substance use cycle and rapping more things of substance. (the irony)
So yeah those are pretty much my thoughts on rap and drugs. What are your thoughts on it? How do you feel about Mac Miller’s death? Is substance use disorder what you originally thought it was? Do you or someone you know struggles with substance use? If so please reach out to the national substance use line at   1-800-662-HELP. If you need help navigating my email is always open.
 Although I am a mental health professional my posts are in no way a substitute for diagnosing yourself or a substitute for treatment.