May is Mental Health Awareness Month and we can never share enough stories about this topic. We recently interviewed Dr. Norma McLauchlin, CEO of Chosen Pen Publishing.
As a child, Norma saw firsthand what happened when mental illness was left unchecked, untreated, and unspoken. Mental health can be very taboo and often people that need help remain silent out of shame or a lack of understanding from those around them. The encounters throughout her childhood compelled Norma to research the issues that crippled her family and quickly learned that she was not alone. Her research became reality when mental illness reared its ugly head and struck her when she least expected it. Norma discovered that proper care and treatment turned a once frightening diagnosis into a manageable disease. This sparked her journey to understand it better and share her knowledge with others. Norma now desires to encourage and enlighten families by showing them there is hope for individuals experiencing mental illness and how families can care for them together.
What personal stories can you share regarding this much-needed conversation?
I have extended family members who exhibited behaviors foreign to their previous characteristics and lifestyle. I wanted to understand why this or that relative no longer bathed or mumbled to themselves, answering questions not previously asked. I was a child who witnessed outbursts and attended dinners after someone came home from getting “much-needed rest” at the local mental health institution. My questions were left unanswered, and I didn’t understand that they were experiencing a mental health crisis. So, I waited to see if I, too, would one day need ‘rest,’ like my Aunt or Uncle. Growing in my knowledge has given me the insight to openly share the commonality we all have in experiencing mental and emotional struggles and empathize with those who may battle a more severe crisis level that may include long-term medical intervention.
Another topic you are passionate about is forgiveness. Was there ever a time you had a hard time forgiving, and how did you overcome that moment?
My issue was never with forgiving an act of un-forgiveness as a process but realizing that the foundation of my faith was to have a lifestyle of forgiveness, no matter the situation. I’m a strong proponent of “not judging the speck in someone else’s eye until you remove the mud that hinders you from seeing your issues.”
During Bible study, while teaching, I heard the urging of the Holy Spirit saying, “Don’t teach others to forgive until you deal with your unforgiveness.” I had lived carrying the burden for so long that I didn’t recognize who I needed to forgive. So, I had to do what I taught others to do. And that was to seek Him in my quiet time and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal who I needed to forgive.
He revealed I had hoarded bitterness towards an individual for over twenty years while supposedly living a life as a Christ-follower. I established a generational line of that bitterness in my family and encouraged their acts of un-forgiveness and hatred towards another. I didn’t want the name mentioned in my presence. But today, I thank God that I went through the forgiveness process and opened the lines of communication between family members.
You can read this story Forgiving to Live, in the Anthology titled Free to Choose forgiveness on the chosepen.com website.
What should our readers consider when it comes to forgiveness?
Even as a Christian, forgiveness will not always come easy for you. Self-preservation is the first law of man; therefore, in your natural state, your first instinct is to protect yourself when injured?—?physically, emotionally, mentally, or spiritually. Consequently, your Christ-like attributes of grace, mercy, and forgiveness take a backseat when you believe you have been offended. So, the question becomes, “Is forgiveness a conscious decision, a physical act involving your intellect, or is it a feeling or emotional state of being?” The Bible provides insight and answers to many more frequent questions concerning forgiveness. You may also find answers in my studies on forgiveness, you will learn answers to the questions about forgiveness.
In what ways do you keep your mental health balanced?
The first thing I do to keep my mental health balanced is value myself. I try to avoid criticism and treat myself with kindness and respect. My hobbies include reading, writing, and traveling. I also do online paint by numbers and puzzles daily to keep my mind sharp.
Although I fall short in this area, taking care of my physical body improves my mental health. I have a dedicated support network that helps cancel those negative thoughts about myself. I also volunteer time and resources to help others, which energizes me.
Since I wear many hats in my life, one of the biggest things I do for mental health is to deal with stress; therefore, I must practice good coping skills, including quiet time with God. I meditate and pray. In addition, I avoid alcohol and other drugs. Finally, I’m not opposed to getting help when needed. I believe that seeking help is a sign of strength, not a weakness.
What else are you passionate about, and what are you currently working on?
I mostly write in the inspirational genre. I write to encourage spiritual growth. My kindle and print books include guided journals, devotionals, and how to write books. My most recent series is Lady Norma Asks, which covers topics such as Are You a Godly Entrepreneur, Do You Love Yourself, Do you follow Godly Principles in Your Business?
We understand you have some powerful and impactful events in the works. What can you tell us about that?
Since one of my deepest passions is forgiveness, I will embark on a Forgiveness Campaign between May and September. I believe that if Christians practiced forgiveness, the world would be a better place, and it would be a joy to live and experience the goodness of planet earth. Therefore, the content for these months includes topics surrounding forgiveness.
I have written and published bestsellers’ Children’s books and anthologies on forgiveness. I am currently delving into the Christian Fiction with a novella titled the Forgiveness Game and a novel titled Losing it All for Him. You can expect their release during the campaign.
What else can we expect from you for the remainder of the year?
The year 2022 promises to be the best yet. Chosen Pen is a publishing house with multi-level branches. From Jamaica to the Dominican Republic, we hone your skills in a workcation atmosphere. At the end of these retreats, an Anthology fiction novel will pay homage to the best of the authors who attend. We are creating opportunities!
We will continue to provide Writer Bootcamps, conferences, summits, retreats, virtual workshops on writing, editing, marketing, and our specialized service on creating your best seller.
If you want to start taking accountability for your mental health, itâ€™s time to…April 21, 2021
Ways to relieve yourself from negative energy and put your mental well-being first.July 15, 2020
About the author
Brianna Laren is a writer, filmmaker, and mom of two. Born in Maryland and raised in Washington D.C., Brianna has been writing poems, plays, and stories since childhood.
Her most recent book, Edge Control for the Soul was number one on Essence Magazine's 21 books We Can't Wait To Read in 2021. Brianna's books have been described as love letters to black women serving as a reminder that we are more than enough.