Pretty Dope Right?

Read my blog.Drink water.Mind your business

As many of you may know (or don’t know), I was diagnosed with generalized anxiety and depression in November 2015. Since then it’s been a colorful rollercoaster to reduce the number of panic attacks, suicide attempts/thoughts and breakdowns. I’m grateful to everyone who’s tagged along, supported me or literally saved my life.

Moving forward Pretty Dope Right?®️ will be a blog dedicated to sharing my journey according to my anxiety and depression. How it’s defined me, allowed me to define myself and forced me to find a functioning medium.

Thank you for reading

-Racquell

Journal Entry: July 31, 2018

Today started out as a regular day. I dreaded hearing the alarm clock. I repeated my affirmations. Hit the bathroom and prepared to walk Milo. Our walk was like any other day with him ignoring the conversation I tried to have with him. I got dressed and went to work on what I would have thought to be a normal stressful day. My colleagues trickled in as usual and we all got settled into our routines.

 

And then it started again.

 

More emails. Back and forth. If I had to guesstimate, I probably said “what the fuck” at least three hundred times. I was still struggling to understand why I was this week’s target for the pettiness. What did I do to deserve such attention? Apparently I started to wear down on my boss to the point where she decided to just come to my desk and show me what she was trying to explain in 700,000 emails. Again I felt my pot starting to boil. Under normal conditions, I’m an advocate for eye contact. In this particular encounter I deliberately avoided it. I guess it had more to do with her standing over me while explaining herself. Nevertheless she finished and went back to the comforts of her office. All was quiet on the department front until I received an email with the work I had completed being sent up the ladder. Once again she singled out every mistake that I made.

 

That was the straw that broke the camels back!

I looked on Skype to see if my HR rep was online. She wasn’t. so I proceeded to go to my car and get the biggest TJ Maxx bag that I could find. I went upstairs and began packing my shit. My colleagues asked if I was leaving.

 

Yes.

 

Today?

 

Yes.

 

Right now?

 

Yup!

 

They understood. Supposedly this wasn’t my bosses first rodeo with OCD micromanagement but I had had enough. I’ve been doing a phenomenal job at keeping depression at bay. It was rearing it’s ugly head again. Three years with no panic attacks and I could feel them coming on again. Clearly it was this job and it had to go.

 

It took two trips to get everything into my car. Once I got done packing I walked to my team members and bid them farewell. I knew my energy would be missed. They asked if I had a plan and my response was simple. No but I trusted that if I fall the universe will catch me. I even told my boss bye. She said bye, wait, where are you going? I kept walking. The song that I sang to myself was Lil Duval’s Smile (Best Life). Not only did I find it humourous for the occasion but also perfectly fitting.

Want to read the rest of the story? Buy the book.

It is approaching the end of the summer. For those of you that don’t know, I am a high school teacher. I too, was under the false impression that summers were reserved for trips around the country, binging on Netflix series and waking up at 5pm from hangovers. This summer has been the furthest thing from that.

 

This week is the first week back for teachers. And although I’m excited, I’m also saddened. This summer whooped my ass!

 

Yes! Whooped my ass!

 

What had happened was…….

 

I started teaching later in the year. Most teachers begin the year at the end of August. I didn’t get offered a position until mid August. That being said, I didn’t start teaching early enough to disperse my payments throughout the twelve month pay schedule and had to settle for the ten month pay schedule. 

 

Now fast forward to the end of June. Thanks to a few scatterbrained folks who shall remain nameless (y’all know how I am), I was under the influence that I’d be paid my final check at the end of June.

 

So when June rolls around, I wake up with full intentions of paying all of the bills.

 

But when I looked at the bank account, my stomach dropped into my ass. A solid $200.

 

img_6914

 

I struggled holding conversations for the rest of the day. 

 

Avoided eye contact with everyone.

 

Had a panic attack followed by a full blown meltdown. 

 

All before I could pull my shit together enough to figure out why. 

 

Well turns out May was the final paycheck and there was some “miscommunication.”

 

My face: 

My mind: I’ll knock all this shit over

 

The rest of the summer went downhill from there. 

 

My car broke down.

 

Had some outrageous family issues.

 

Fell short on rent and car note (and had to fully rely on my support system).

 

I had a book launch coming up and hadn’t purchased a single book to sell.

 

The one relationship that seemed hopeful crashed and burned. 

 

My body started shutting down and I had a medical situation that required me to have a catheter in for a little over a month. 

 

The uncomfort of it prevented me from adequately training for my part time job. 

 

I quickly spiraled into a heavy depression all while walking out of the house with a smile on my face. Not because I wanted to, but because I HAD to.

 

I couldn’t let anyone see. Cause who wants to see sad people? So on my way home from driving Uber til 2 and 3 o’clock in the morning…..I would just cry. Not just any old cry. That “what is life” cry. That “I think this is the end” cry. No matter how many songs I added to my “You Got This” playlist, nothing seemed to help. The advice of friends was always supportive and positive but when you are in such a feeling of powerlessness and helplessness, even that encouragement goes in one ear and out the other. 

 

I tried to drink it away.

 

I tried to write it away.

 

img_6915

 

Instead of fighting the depression, I decided that this time I just needed to go ahead and allow myself to go under. I always come back up right? I had nothing else to lose or prove. It was probably one of the best decisions that I could make for myself at the time, especially with everything that I had going on. 

 

The day I went to have the catheter removed, the nurse asked me about any depression. And I lied. Like most people do. Like most women do. Like a majority of black women do. 

 

It reminded me of a time that another nurse said well it looks like you’re happy so I’m sure you’re not depressed. Telling people that they can’t be depressed because they look happy happy is such an ugly stigma. 

 

 

So when I say that this breakthrough is personal it is overcoming my obstacles is super selfish I take so much pride in knowing that I’m tougher than I think and way more temper then I gave myself credit for and now that I know I have all the tools and resources to be stronger I feel that I have a better grip on how I can control my depression. 

 

I have a much deeper understanding of who I am and how I got to this point there’s also a list of things and thoughts that I need to decondition myself from. 

 

I know who my friends are and who my friends aren’t. 

 

Always being the lender and never the borrower makes it hard as fuck to ask for help when needed. 

 

Your support system can legit make or break you. 

 

Hustling is mad uncomfortable. I legit didn’t think that my body could function on less than 6 hours of sleep. But here I am….functioning and shit. 

 

The feeling of powerlessness and helplessness is only in my mind. 

 

I needed to break down. I needed to fall apart. I needed to sit down. I needed to be lost. I needed to find myself again. 

 

So while I didn’t get the summer that I wanted, I got the summer that I needed.

 

A not so hot girl summer.

 

P.S. If you’re in this boat. Reach out. You’re not alone. I promise. People just aren’t transparent because it’s painful to admit. You’re loved. You’re valuable. And most importantly, You’re more powerful than you think!

 

National Suicide Prevention Hotline

 

1-800-273-TALK

1-800-273-8255

 

If you have been following me for a while, you’ll know that at one point, this page offered “creativity coaching” services. I know right. Another “coach.” Well I have since then (last year) tucked away the idea of being branded as a coach. However.

I had created all kinds of materials for a “F.O.C.U.S” course that I never launched on Teachable. The class was supposed to be offered completely online for about $10 per attendee. The course was designed to help people “focus” on their creativity. Now while I still may actually launch this sucker as an in person workshop, I figured that I’d give part of the course away as a freebie via this blog. Like it? Let me know? Love it and want to force me to actually teach the course? Let me know that too! Hated it? I wanna hear it! All feedback is welcome!

Click the link below to access the full PDF.

Where Does the Time Go?

 

The writer in me wouldn’t allow for me to end the school year without writing something to you all. So here it goes.

 

Students.

I have heard you.

I believe you and believed in you

I stand with you

I stand for you

 

You have inspired me to be a better person. A more responsible person. You have taught me how to keep an extreme poker face. You have taught me how to always speak up. You have reminded to stay young at heart. You have taught me the power of words. You have  made my heart even more fragile than it already was. You have also served as daily reminders that education is where I’m supposed to be and where I should have been all along.

 

As you continue on your journey, please remember and understand that while you may think that many of the things that you do and say, don’t matter, they do. To someone. Somewhere. Many of the things you post and share online may be cute and even funny, but be mindful that monsters are real and there are people that prey upon the young and the restless. Stay as alert and aware as possible. Be cautious of your surroundings. And don’t be so quick to deem a person your friend, homie, lover, sister or brother.

 

While Ms. Royster may always be peace, love and zen within the classroom, I do worry about y’all more than you’ll ever know. Many of you know that there are two things that Ms. Royster “don’t play about,” and that’s my money and my students. Anytime there is  news shared with me involving a young person under the age of 18, my heart stops. I say a quick prayer that it isn’t a student and more importantly, that it isn’t one of MY students. Fortunately, that has not been the case thus far. I do not take this for granted.

 

You all have graciously welcomed me into education. As I have stated at the beginning of each semester, it has been an honor to be your teacher. I have enjoyed seeing your growth, maturity, honesty and independence. Thank you for not giving me any “horror stories” to tell my friends about. I have been eager and happy to answer all of your questions about MY “real world” experiences (even the ones that didn’t make sense). Thanks for all of the music that you have put me on to. Thanks for all of the memes. Thank you for respecting me at all times. I’m one of the lucky ones.

 

Above all, thank you for constantly “gassing me up” on how amazing I am as a teacher and that there should be more educators like myself. I’ll surely miss you, especially my seniors. If any of you ever become famous, remember that Ms. Royster gets VIP treatment. And vice versa if I become famous first! I wish you all much continued success and prosperity in whatever passions you pursue, but always remember that your peace of mind is PRICELESS. Protect it AT ALL COSTS.

 

With sincerity, peace, love and light

-Ms. Royster

 

…you’re on the verge of slapping the shit out of your colleagues and it seems like everybody in the office has got you “fucked up” as well.

Ok. Now breathe. I get it. I’ve been there.

If you don’t have bail money or aren’t in a position to quit, here are a few strategies to help you “cope.”

Write it down, ball it up, toss it out

I can’t even begin to tell you how many trashcans I’ve filled up using this method. Working in a shitty corporate setting will do that to ya. Not only did this method provide immediate relief, but over time, I noticed that I wrote less and less notes. I began to regain my sanity without sacrificing my job. I began smiling more and became more engaged with the team. I kept it cordial with the folks that bothered me and focused on nurturing the healthier relationships.

Phone a friend and throw a bitch fit

The GroupMe app is heaven sent! My friends were the first group of people that knew how much I hated my last job. Of course they understood. Half of them calmed me down from slapping the hell out of my boss. Now the other half was willing and ready to show up and show out. Support is support. I’ve vented on numerous occasions……sometimes til I was in tears of frustration. I’ve gone out “for drinks” to de-stress til I damn near collapsed from being drunk. Here’s a secret.

img_5386

There will be more days like this. It happens.

HOWEVER. There are a few housekeeping rules to keep in mind.

Begin with a hello, how are you? Don’t just jump straight into the bitch fit. Perhaps who you called was just about to call you for a bitch fit themselves.

img_5387

Another housekeeping rule……always ask if it’s okay to vent. Again. Don’t just jump straight into the bitch fit. Simply but respectfully put, sometimes……

THEY DON’T WANT TO HEAR THAT SHIT!

I have been the friend that has felt that way and I’ve also been on the other end of that when I was told “Racquell, I don’t mean to be rude but I’m not really trying to hear that shit today.” I respected that. This person’s feelings were valid. I’ll be honest. It stung a bit but it also forced me to calm down even faster after I was met with this response. You’re also more likely to calm down quicker if you’re pressed for time to throw your fit.

Meditate

Meditation is my go to. One can literally meditate anywhere…….including work. Taking a walk is a form of meditation. Closing your eyes and focusing on light is a surefire form of meditation. Focus on your breathing. Your heartbeat. I also think that music is a form of meditation. Try binaural beats. Listen to piano instrumentals. I have a “lovey dovey” playlist that never disappoints.

Mentally play out the scenario

Growing up, I thoroughly enjoyed watching the fights on Jerry Springer. Sometimes I would even turn the volume off and create the arguments for the foolish guests on the show. Who knew that years later, I’d be doing the same thing for situations within my own life. In some of my scenarios, I’ve even added “theme music.”

img_5390

It’s hard. Between the year zooming by, a million retrogrades and a super strain of pollen hitting the air, you’re likely to be one telemarketer call away from snapping.

While it may be easier to maintain your sanity at home, many people are struggling to maintain it at work.

Regardless of where I’ve worked, my colleagues always commend me for keeping my cool (for the most part). But what they don’t know is that I do indeed get upset but I try my best to not allow people to see me sweat. Actually I have (in my head) physically assaulted quite a few people. Heavy emphasis on “in my head” of course.

Now that I’m in a field that requires me to keep a poker face, I have to work double time to keep a level head. I use these techniques several times a day. Perhaps they will work for you too.

 

 

This will likely be one of the most transparent pieces that I’ve ever written. Most of you all know that I typically don’t discuss my personal life online- especially my family. But last week there was a major shift with my family dynamics.

Not many people knew that my dad had been incarcerated for the past 18 years of my life. But last week he became a free man. It was powerful. No longer were we limited by the time constraints of “visitation.” No longer were we interrupted with the reminder of “you have sixty seconds remaining” before we were rushed to wrap up our conversation, say our “love yous” and goodbyes. As a family, we were finally free.

Now don’t get me wrong, though he was incarcerated, he wasn’t emotionally, mentally or spiritually absent from my life. He and I have eighteen years worth of phone call and letter exchanges. I have them all. Not only are there letters, there are handmade birthday cards, comic strips, quotes, scriptures and also (one time) a hand braided ankh.

My dad has always strived to make our relationship normal. he has always been a constant reminder of how beautiful, independent and strong I am. And there hasn’t been any wrong that I can do (in his eyes of course). He has allows cheered me on to continue “doing your thing, ” whatever it is at the time. He has fully supported all of my endeavors and constantly reminds me to be treated like nothing less than royalty.

I’d like to say thank you to everyone that has extended their love and support as my dad transitions back into society. SO much has changed since 2001. Technology. Social media. Social norms. So one can understand how overwhelming it can be. He’s learning.

I can’t express how grateful that I am to have my dads physical presence in my life and it is a privilege that I will NEVER take for granted.

In 18 years…..

You’ve never missed a birthday, graduation, Christmas, Valentines Day nor Easter despite your physical absence

For 18 years…..

I have vowed that you would be the only man in my life that I would hold down while he was locked down. I have honored it.

After 18 years…..

Welcome home Dad