I came to The Guidance Center for help in 2014 after experiencing significant trauma in my life that severely impacted my mental health. I was in my early 20’s taking care of my son and my little sister. At that time, I went from working 16-hour days to not be able to get out of bed. It became a struggle to even feel motivated to shower, go grocery shopping or do any basic life functions. I knew something needed to change, so I reached out to The Guidance Center.

With the support of my therapist, I was able to process my experiences, my feelings and my thoughts. I had never done that before. Throughout my entire life, I felt like a burden to people. My therapist helped me feel differently. He was supportive, and a type of support I had never had before. I never believed that someone, who sits across from me, would listen to my experiences and actually help me. Being able to be proven wrong and having so much gained from going to therapy impacted my life tremendously.

During my sessions, I would share my work as an ultrasound technician with my therapist and I would tell him certain interactions I would have with my patients. He reflected back to me about the social work that I was doing. He helped me in growing to accept my innate ability to connect with people. He very gently encouraged me to explore going to school to become a social worker.

With the hands-on support of The Guidance Center, I went to Long Beach City College, then to the University of California, Long Beach to get my bachelor’s degree and then my master’s degree. With the support of my therapists, I went from feeling completely unable to function in my daily life to becoming a therapist myself.

Today, I work for Telecare Corporation as a field-based clinician providing therapy, assessments, diagnoses and crisis intervention. Being someone who has been in the other seat, I have a level of compassion and empathy that cannot be gained solely from education. I am very fortunate to have that piece. When I speak with my clients, I am present in their experience. With the current events happening around us, being there for my clients is even more valuable in their healing process. Here are some of the tips that I’ve been sharing with them.

3 Tips on Managing Your Mental Health During the Coronavirus Pandemic

1. Grounding Activation: With the current events happening around us, I have been practicing a lot of grounding activation with myself and in my therapy sessions. I allow for us to spend time talking about the pandemic and feeling as though the “world is falling apart,” but then we find a way to be present and embrace sharing that moment. If you are feeling anxious during this time, take a moment to feel centered and one with yourself. Focus on what your breathing feels like, the sound of the birds chirping outside or the trees moving in the wind. It’s important to shift your awareness into a calm state.

2. Mindfulness: It is also important to be mindful of what is in our power and what isn’t in our power. Recognize when things are not in your control. I sit with my clients in the middle of things happening around them that is out of their control, and I am going to continue sitting with them despite things not working in their favor. Sometimes there isn’t much we can do other than just being with someone.

3. Be Kind to Each Other: The pandemic is impacting us all, however it is imperative to acknowledge our experiences vary greatly. I want to encourage others to lean into their discomfort and not assume what someone might need, but ask others what they might need during this challenging time. If we operate from our heart, we have a better chance at effectively supporting those in our community. In return, if we are kind to one another and demonstrate compassion, people may feel more connected, less afraid, and not hopeless. I understand the impact of just smiling at someone, it can change their day for the better

The Guidance Center is thankful to Porschea for sharing her expertise with us and offering these valuable tips. To learn more about Porschea’s story and experiences, please read our blog, Hope Takes Flight – Porschea. In honor of Mental Health Month this May, continue to prioritize your own well-being and the well-being of others. Join us in our campaign, “Still Here for You” by sharing your own mental health coping methods on social media, don’t forget to tag us!