Finding balance to your reality reduces stress, anxiety
6th August 2013 · 0 Comments
By Sandra Jordan
(Special to the NNPA from the St. Louis American) – Most of us know of someone who seems highly unorganized; who is late to every occasion (with an excuse, of course) and appears unable to pull together their life, their thoughts or actions at home, work, school, marriage or in personal interactions with others. Anxiety could be an unrecognized underlying cause.
Jameca Falconer, a counseling psychologist at Logan College of Chiropractic University Programs said it is a matter of balance, managing time and prioritizing the issues in your life. She conducts psychotherapy for students, faculty and staff at Logan and previously worked in private practice.
“We usually sit down and work out a schedule or a plan; sometimes we do it graphically, sometimes we do it verbally, to figure out what things need to be there, what things do not need to be there,” Falconer said. “And we go through and take those things out, and get a visual, detailed vision of what that time should look like, as opposed to what it does look like.”
Anxiety comes from worrying about what may happen; life’s ambiguities cause stress about the “what ifs.” Anxiety can manifest as physical health issues.
When a hectic life becomes chaotic and so overwhelming that it interferes with a person’s daily functioning, a person needs help dealing with what is causing their anxiety.
“If it’s causing a disruption in your daily living, then it’s a problem that warrants help,” Falconer said. “It could be as simple as always getting to work late, always dropping their children off late; always picking up their children late – that’s a disruption.
“Or they are feeling stressed-out, teary, nervous… if they don’t sleep well, that’s a disruption.”
Generalized anxiety disorder is a common, but serious illness that may worsen over time. It responds to treatment with professional counseling, medication or both.
The National Institutes of Health reports generalized anxiety disorder, and the stress it produces can lead to extreme fear or phobias, panic attacks, post-traumatic stress disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorders and other physical manifestations. This is more than being anxious or nervous – that alertness that comes before taking an important exam, for example.
“If the core issue is anxiety… a lot of what I see with patients is that the anxiety doesn’t come so much from the things they have in their life; it comes from the people that have created the stress in their life,” Falconer said. “Most times, it’s as simple as eliminating people.”
Whatever or whoever is toxic does not deserve space in your life, she added. You have to admit it to yourself and believe it.
According to the National Institutes of Mental Health, one in four adults, an estimated 26.2 percent of Americans ages 18 and older – suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder in a given year.
And if it looks like your peers appear to be doing okay and internally, you feel you may they need some extra help pulling your life together, a person will need to move beyond a potential stigma associated with seeking behavioral health counsel, according to Falconer.
“I think there is a very big stigma attached to counseling and therapy within the African American community, and I think a lot of this has to do with the traditional values rooted in the Black family that tell us that we do not go outside of the family to seek help,” Falconer said. “So that when you go outside the family to receive help, it’s looked down upon.”
Compounded by not being able to manage your own life, Falconer said, or appearing to be weak is something else that is not valued in the Black community.
“When you put those things together, it does create a very big stigma and lots of people try to stay away from that,” she added.
Exacerbating the problem for some young men and women are the unflattering images and unrealistic expectations in society; exaggerated portrayals of African Americans that are far from ideal, that some people internalize as personal attainable goals.
“Specifically for young Black men, what I see a lot are issues… depression, anxiety and other types of mental illness or physical illnesses that are usually associated with … this kind of self-acceptance,” Falconer said. “Many times they use the clothes, the cars, the jewelry and the women; because what they really want is respect and attention.”
She added that within the Black community that struggle and striving for respect and attention continues from adolescent and young adulthood into their 40s, even 50s, because they still haven’t figured “it” out yet.
“For Black men, the ‘it’ they need to figure out is ‘I am okay without all of these things. These things don’t make me better.’” Falconer said. “Because if you really are not a good person or not a good Black man, you will then just be a no-good Black man with a nice car, or a no good Black man with nice clothes on. Any mature person would see that; an immature person, on the other hand, will be fooled into thinking you are what you are trying to portray.”
She said it becomes a cycle; using fake means to obtain seek what can be real and meaningful.
“I’m hurt, I’m injured; I don’t feel good about myself, so I have all these clothes and cars that make me on the outside look like I’m all these things and successful.” Falconer describes. “So then I attract these people who think these things are important and that means I am successful, but then, they are not either.
“So then the people who don’t feel good about themselves hook up with other people that don’t feel good about themselves and then they create families – broken families; and then we wonder why the children suffer.”
Mr. Anybody, meet The Fake Me
Falconer, who also teaches at Webster University, tells students it is hard being a woman in 2013 regardless of your race or age, because society says “you’re not right.”
“I think with the young Black women, they see the reality TV shows, the magazines, the videos – all these things that tell them that they are not valuable unless they can use their sexuality or unless they can show their sexuality,” Falconer said. “Then they get caught in this cycle that they feel they have to use their sexuality to get love or to get men.
It’s worse than always looking for Mr. Right.
Falconer said it’s Mr. Anybody.
“Mr. Anybody; it doesn’t even have to be Mr. Right. He can be Mr. 10 Percent Right,” Falconer explained. “And I have to try to trap, or catch or get this Mr. because this is going to be the answer to all my problems.”
This mindset puts some Black women and men in the same tempestuous boat. Again, “Here is the fake me; but let’s keep it real.”
Ain’t nothing like the real thing
“I think we use all these artificial ways to get something that is real; we use inauthentic ways in an attempt to get something authentic,” Falconer said. “Everyone wants something real – ‘I want a real man,’ ‘I want to step up; I want him to step his game up.’ Well, that’s not what you used to get him. You didn’t use real ways to get him.
For her male patients who complain their women don’t cook, clean or whatever, Falconer asks what attracted them in the first place.
“‘Because she was fine.’
‘Okay, then that is what you got her for. Is she still fine?’
‘Then she is doing what she is supposed to do. That was in the job description that she applied for; you hired her and she is doing her job. You didn’t hire somebody to cook and clean and to look cute. You hired someone to look cute; so that mean you chose wrong.’”
Falconer hears her share of the “I know buts.”
“It’s hard for people to accept responsibility that they are in the situation that they are in because of them; it’s hard for everybody,” Falconer said.
To break the perpetual cycle of poor personal choices, Falconer said the first step for men and women is to get “unstuck.”
“Gain some awareness of what the problem is, and I think that is the tricky part for people because oftentimes they point the finger and say it’s somebody else’s problem,” Falconer said. “Sometimes their friends and family can’t really help them identify the problem because they are just as stuck as they are.
“Sometimes just doing that first step requires you getting help from the outside.”
For more information, visit www.diverse-ventures.com or www.nimh.gov.
This article originally published in the August 5, 2013 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.