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5 Things You Can Do To Improve Your Mental Health

Wellness

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), 7.7 million adults in the United States live with PTSD. Women are twice as likely as men to develop this condition. Mental illness has been a part of my life as far as I can remember, starting with my mother undiagnosed struggles with mental illness. As a young child, I remember my mother not dealing with daily hardship very well and slowly isolating herself from family members.

By the time I was in my early teens, she had a nervous breakdown, abandoned me to be moved around to different relative homes. Sadly, my mother wasn't diagnosed until much later in life, which prompted me to get clinically diagnosed once I became a mother.

Many consider PTSD a soldier's illness, but in hindsight, twice as many women suffer from PTSD symptoms such as: flashbacks, dissociation, and anxiety. In the past, I was constantly fighting with past trauma and my dear husband was getting caught in the crossfire. I found myself struggling to do simple daily tasks, such as just getting out of bed and taking a shower.

It's not a phase; it's real suffering.

Now, my main priority is maintaining a positive outlook and actively decreasing trigger moments by taking prescribed medication, regular counseling, exercise, and meditation. My husband and I went to marriage counseling and slowly started to heal our relationship.

When your mental health isn't treated properly, everything and everyone you hold dear gets tossed to the side, while you try your best to climb out of that dark hole.

I had to make the decision to try my best to be happy and take full responsibility for my mental health.

I had to examine everything. I started by asking myself questions. Did I have toxic people around me? Was I engaging in anything that caused me stress? Was I actively taking responsibility for my needs, my joy, my pain?

Being diagnosed with a mental illness, such as PTSD, isn't the end of the world and I had nothing to be ashamed of.Once I started treatment, delegating responsibilities in my growing business, and learned to effectively deal with my trigger moments; everything in my life started changing for the better.

I want a happy and fulfilling life. I deserve it.

For anyone suffering from any form of mental illness, things that help me get by are:

  1. When you've reached your trigger moment and feel yourself sinking, give yourself time to just be! Give yourself ONE day to just feel however you feel. It's okay, we're all human. Negative emotions are still emotions.
  2. Do something you love to do! Catch a movie, make a spa day, go to the beach. Give yourself permission to do anything that will help you relax and be peaceful.
  3. Make an appointment with your counselor immediately. A lot of times it's easier to release past trauma with a counselor than it is with family or friends.
  4. Meditation works wonders! You don't have to be a yoga pro to meditate; it's as simple as going outside, finding a quiet spot, and being still. Think about all that you are grateful for, why you are blessed, things that make you feel happy, etc. Just be still and let God talk to you.
  5. Medication – my prescription has helped a lot as well. You must let your doctor know if something doesn't feel right. I must see my psychiatric nurse every thirty days for evaluation.

Being a wife, mother, and entrepreneur can be extremely stressful. I'm a firm believer that my family doesn't deserve all my baggage, they deserve the best part of me. I take full responsibility to giving them just that every day. Some days are better than others. But when I have bad days, I try my best to count my blessings and not beat myself up.

With time, I've learned to love and nourish all of me; flaws and all. I hope my story encourage others to speak out and love themselves as well.

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Originally published March 10, 2018

Featured image by Shutterstock

Before she was Amira Unplugged, rapper, singer, and a Becoming a Popstar contestant on MTV, she was Amira Daughtery, a twenty-five year-old Georgian, with aspirations of becoming a lawyer. “I thought my career path was going to lead me to law because that’s the way I thought I would help people,” Amira tells xoNecole. “[But] I always came back to music.”

A music lover since childhood, Amira grew up in an artistic household where passion for music was emphasized. “My dad has always been my huge inspiration for music because he’s a musician himself and is so passionate about the history of music.” Amira’s also dealt with deafness in one ear since she was a toddler, a condition which she says only makes her more “intentional” about the music she makes, to ensure that what she hears inside her head can translate the way she wants it to for audiences.

“The loss of hearing means a person can’t experience music in the conventional way,” she says. “I’ve always responded to bigger, bolder anthemic songs because I can feel them [the vibrations] in my body, and I want to be sure my music does this for deaf/HOH people and everyone.”

A Black woman wearing a black hijab and black and gold dress stands in between two men who are both wearing black pants and colorful jackets and necklaces

Amira Unplugged and other contestants on Becoming a Popstar

Amira Unplugged / MTV

In order to lift people’s spirits at the beginning of the pandemic, Amira began posting videos on TikTok of herself singing and using sign language so her music could reach her deaf fans as well. She was surprised by how quickly she was able to amass a large audience. It was through her videos that she caught the attention of a talent scout for MTV’s new music competition show for rising TikTok singers, Becoming a Popstar. After a three-month process, Amira was one of those picked to be a contestant on the show.

Becoming a Popstar, as Amira describes, is different from other music competition shows we’ve all come to know over the years. “Well, first of all, it’s all original music. There’s not a single cover,” she says. “We have to write these songs in like a day or two and then meet with our producers, meet with our directors. Every week, we are producing a full project for people to vote on and decide if they’d listen to it on the radio.”

To make sure her deaf/HOH audiences can feel her songs, she makes sure to “add more bass, guitar, and violin in unique patterns.” She also incorporates “higher pitch sounds with like chimes, bells, and piccolo,” because, she says, they’re easier to feel. “But it’s less about the kind of instrument and more about how I arrange the pattern of the song. Everything I do is to create an atmosphere, a sensation, to make my music a multi-sensory experience.”

She says that working alongside the judges–pop stars Joe Jonas and Becky G, and choreographer Sean Bankhead – has helped expand her artistry. “Joe was really more about the vocal quality and the timber and Becky was really about the passion of [the song] and being convinced this was something you believed in,” she says. “And what was really great about [our choreographer] Sean is that obviously he’s a choreographer to the stars – Lil Nas X, Normani – but he didn’t only focus on choreo, he focused on stage presence, he focused on the overall message of the song. And I think all those critiques week to week helped us hone in on what we wanted to be saying with our next song.”

As her star rises, it’s been both her Muslim faith and her friends, whom she calls “The Glasses Gang” (“because none of us can see!”), that continue to ground her. “The Muslim and the Muslima community have really gone hard [supporting me] and all these people have come together and I truly appreciate them,” Amira says. “I have just been flooded with DMs and emails and texts from [young muslim kids] people who have just been so inspired,” she says. “People who have said they have never seen anything like this, that I embody a lot of the style that they wanted to see and that the message hit them, which is really the most important thing to me.”

A Black woman wears a long, salmon pink hijab, black outfit and pink boots, smiling down at the camera with her arm outstretched to it.

Amira Unplugged

Amira Unplugged / MTV

Throughout the show’s production, she was able to continue to uphold her faith practices with the help of the crew, such as making sure her food was halal, having time to pray, dressing modestly, and working with female choreographers. “If people can accept this, can learn, and can grow, and bring more people into the fold of this industry, then I’m making a real difference,” she says.

Though she didn’t win the competition, this is only the beginning for Amira. Whether it’s on Becoming a Popstar or her videos online, Amira has made it clear she has no plans on going anywhere but up. “I’m so excited that I’ve gotten this opportunity because this is really, truly what I think I’m meant to do.”

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