Waiting to Exhale

*inhales

It’s been a little less than a month since I turned thirty-two. It came with a new set of creaks and cracks in my joints that I’ll be needing to smooth over with five deep breaths in my favorite yoga poses. In the midst of celebrating yet another revolution around the sun, I also confronted something that I’d been silently (and sometimes not so silently) battling for years. 

At the request of my therapist, I saw my psychiatrist for a second opinion on my mental health diagnosis. 

Turns out…….I’m schizophrenic. I’m certain that this may (or not) come as a shock to many of my readers, family and friends alike. 

But it’s my truth.

It’s a truth that I’m not ashamed of. It’s a truth that I embraced with peace and acceptance. As my psychiatrist and I were in my session, I immediately felt a sense of relief because I could finally put a name to the chaos that filled my head. A chaos that I had misunderstood as depression and anxiety. A chaos that I had chalked up to my upbringing. To religion. To my “free spirited and wild hearted” personality. But a majority of who I am has been riddled with mania, psychosis, paranoia, delusions and hallucinations. Like, a lot of it.

My psychiatrist reassured me that not everyone suffering from schizophrenia fits the classic textbook symptoms or “acts out” like the people we see in the media. She even said that she was proud at how much I’d been able to accomplish and was curious as to how I’d been able to mask most of my symptoms, to which my response was “I had no choice.” It was also during this session that I learned that people can suffer from high functioning schizophrenia just as commonly as people suffer from high functioning depression. 

We discussed options for treatment and I was open to starting a low-dosage antipsychotic in combination with weekly therapy visits and bi-weekly psychiatry visits.

I’ve always been my own biggest advocate and this by far has been the best decision I’ve made for myself. It’s been a month since I started my medication and I can genuinely feel the difference…..which was the goal. My therapist is proud. My support system has been supportive. And most importantly, I’m proud. 

If you’ve been supporting this blog for a while, you know I’ve always been pretty transparent about my mental health journey. I’ll be honest. This took me a moment to process in terms of how I was going to share. Mental health is soooooo stigmatized as it is especially within the black community. Then you combine that with the negative media portrayals of those suffering from schizophrenia. It’s clear to see why I chose to be careful. 

I’m not gonna give you the statistics, but just know that there are a lot more people suffering in silence. I simply choose not to be one of those people. Nor am I choosing to allow my diagnosis to restrict me from the life that I choose to live. 

I hope that this blog in particular helps someone feel less alone about it. And I also hope that it inspires someone to seek the mental health help that they need.

*exhales

Removing the Cape

So I was typing up the discussion for Black Girls Must Die Exhausted. 

Bumping Maxwell’s MTV Unplugged album- track 4. This Woman’s Work. Despite being tragically placed in the sex scene in Love and Basketball and many a first dance wedding song, the song is actually about death. 

In case you didn’t know. Go back and listen to the lyrics. And watch the video. 

So yeah.

Between the book, the music and the incense I was burning (which happened to be called “Black Woman”), I got in my feelings.

I got to thinking.

Finally, I have a job I don’t hate. An amazing apartment. Clear skin. Edges……..and in therapy. 

The insurance that I have through my job allows me to access for as little as $35 a session. I’ve been going weekly since December 5th. I went to my first session fully equipped with a plan. I wanted to commit myself to weekly sessions for at least one year. I even started a “therapy journal” last year to write down specific things I’d wanted to tackle when I finally found a therapist. 

We’re quite a few sessions in and I’m making a ton of progress. I’m telling y’all I came prepared to do “the work.” And I make sure to review all of my therapist’s notes after each session. 

The first culprit we’ve identified is PTSD (post- traumatic stress disorder). Primarily from childhood trauma. Now if you know me personally, this comes as no surprise. I’ve been pretty transparent about my upbringing. But I genuinely didn’t understand the extent to which it’d negatively impact every facet of my adult life and all of the relationships I’ve built within it. From family, to friends and lovers alike. 

The truth is. I’ve been tired for a very long time and now I’m fully coming to grips with why it’s understandable. Growing up being applauded for ensuring the wellbeing of others was not a badge of honor that I should have earned. Strength should never be rooted in anyone’s ability to put up with bullshit.

Frankly…….

I’m tired of being the strong daughter

I’m tired of being the strong sibling

I’m tired of being the strong niece

I’m tired of being the strong friend

I’m tired of being the strong colleague

The strong everything for everyone else.

And thanks to therapy, I realize that it’s okay for me to feel that way. I had to be responsible for so much at quite a young age. Just juggling everyone else’s SHIT in addition to my own. Almost to the point where I don’t even really know where anybody else’s shit ends and mine begins. Lately I’ve been working on distinguishing between the two and creating more boundaries to protect myself….FIRST.

So moving forward, I won’t be available in the same capacities that I used to be. 

I’ve taken the “strong” cape off.

Black Girls Must Die Exhausted by Jayne Allen- Book Discussion

I finally finished reading Black Girls Must Die Exhausted by Jayne Allen. If you’re over thirty, it’s a must read. I saw myself and many of the intricacies of the relationships in my life interwoven between the pages. Initially my goal for the book was to use it to relaunch my Facebook book club- Pretty Dope Reads. But then I got the better idea to use my blog as a host for book discussions. That way, readers could access the discussions independent of Facebook. 

The discussion questions have been curated in a way that doesn’t give away any of the details of the book. That way, they can be answered by any general audience but also those that have read the book and have actual context. 

Pretty dope right?

This is a trial run for now. Regardless, the engagement won’t determine if I’ll continue doing it this way or not. Cause one thing about me, I’mma read a book and talk about it til I’m black and blue in the face. Especially a good one. 

But I’ve done enough yip yappin’. Here are the discussion questions. 

  • How many items have you checked off your life goals checklist? What’s left? What’s in the way?
  • Why do you think parent’s avoid discussing certain topics with their children?
  • Is there/was there an elder family member that is/was always a safe space for you? Why?
  • In your current friend group, do you share all the tea at once or are you selective even in the friend group? Would you get offended if your friends were to hang out without you?
  • When was the last time that you should have stood up for yourself but you didn’t? Why not?
  • Has anyone, family or not, advised you to focus more on your man/woman and not on your career? What was your response?
  • Have you ever been blindsided by the abrupt ending of a relationship (personally or professionally)? How did you respond to it?
  • What has been the best advice an elder has given you concerning men/women?
  • What do you do to remind you not to “lose yourself” in the monotony of life?
  • Have you ever had a major fight/argument within your friend group(s)? How did you reconcile?
  • If there has been a major loss in your life, how did you overcome it?

Feel free to share (giving credit where it’s due of course) or discuss within the comments or we can chat via email. Feedback is welcomed.

It’s My Party……

And I cried because I NEEDED to,

You would cry too if you walked in my shoes.

Yesterday was my 31st birthday.

It was yet another year of celebrating life in the middle of this pandemic. Unlike most birthdays before last year, I wasn’t genuinely excited.

I knew that this year would be somewhat different since I now live in Texas and most of my family and friends live in North Carolina. 

It began as one of the most “un-birthday-est” birthdays ever. 

I’m used to celebrating throughout the week amongst friends, family and strangers alike. 

Karaoke.

Dinners.

Bar hops.

Vineyards.

Smoking cigars.

Kayaking.

Connecting with nature, 

Hood rat shit with my friends.

This pandemic forced me to do some serious shadow working.

I have had breakdowns galore. 

I have had some rough wild nights.

My support system is A1. 

This revolution around the sun is propelling me forward. I feel it. 

Leering go of the things that torement me. The things that kept me bound. The things that lived rent free in my head for far too long.

It was hindering all that I was trying to manifest.

And on my birthday things changed. 

There was shift. The good finally about to outweigh the bad. 

I got that message very loud and clear. 

Yesterday was an entire party just for me.

And dammit I cried!

Thank you all for allowing me to share this space with you in this lifetime. 

Time to rebrand.