Control Freak

The beginning of Sza’s song Supermodel includes a clip about control.

That is my greatest fear. That if I lost control. Or did not have control. Things would just, you know. I. It would be fatal.

Sza, Supermodel

It resonated with me.

I admit it.

I’m a control freak.

I don’t even think I mean to be. 

My obsession with being in control is directly connected to my childhood.

The adults around me failed to take charge when and where (I thought) it was necessary. This resulted in me being forced to function normally in chaos and dysfunction all of the time. I felt helpless quite a lot. 

That fear of feeling helpless impacts almost all of the relationships in my life. I prefer to have control of most of my interactions with people. 

I’m not a bitch about it or anything like that (I don’t think) but I do prefer to be in charge when I can. I enjoy planning things and trying to account for any deviations from the plans. If I’m planning a road trip, I’m going to account for traffic, accidents, flat tires etc. If it’s a celebration, I can almost guarantee that I’ve accounted for the caterer to show up late or not at all. 

Being in control keeps my anxiety and panic at bay. 

But I learned a very valuable lesson recently.

Last week my car wouldn’t crank.

I just got the car at the end of May.

What the fuck could possibly be wrong now?

It was so random. I was stuck in a Ross parking lot on my lunch break. Midday. In hot ass Texas. 

There was no way I could have planned for this. However, I was somewhat prepared. I had jumper cables. I had access to roadside assistance. That’s as far as the preparation could go. I had to accept that head on. I simply had no control over the car not starting.

Instead of freaking out this time, I paused. It wasn’t the appropriate time to fall apart. It was time to strategize so that I can get back up and running until I could get to a mechanic to figure out what was wrong with it. I asked a stranger to jumpstart my car and then I drove it back to my apartment. I got another jump from a friend and was able to get it to the dealership. The dealership arranged my transport to and from the dealership. There was a screw missing on the battery and a clamp that was loose. Easy fix. I didn’t have to pay a dime for the “repair.” 

2 year plans are nice. Vision boards are smart. Following all of the directions serves its purpose most days. But they are simply preparation and the unexpected and unexplainable are simply bound to happen. Everything is temporary. Nothing is permanent. Shit happens. Things fall apart. Plans fail. People fall out of love. Friendships end. Loved ones die. 

As harsh as it sounds, it’s the reality of things. 

This isolated event served as a simple reminder that life is fluid and control is truly an illusion. 

JUST OUT OF CURIOSITY……

Do you consider yourself a control freak? Where does it stem from?

When do you feel most in control? When do you feel least in control?

How do you adjust when unexpected events happen in your life? Do you adjust in a healthy manner? If not, what could change?

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.

Podcast. Take Two.

So……I started another podcast. The last one I started Not Sufficient for Work was very short lived. And when I say short lived, I mean one episode. A week after I started the podcast, I started teaching at a high school and I definitely couldn’t afford for my employer or my students to get a hold of it. 

The current podcast Corporate America: I’ve Had Enough of You is based on my second book of the same title. Just like the last time, I began with very little experience creating a podcast. Lately I’ve been on a podcast binge and kept hearing the same messages about the Anchor app which was user friendly for a person like me to use with little to no equipment. Writing books and blogs was much easier but I saw this as a new opportunity to challenge myself creatively. 

It’s been three years since the book was published. My story resonated with and inspired so many people to prioritize their mental health, which for some, meant quitting their jobs. 

Now here I am three years later with those same “fuck this job” feelings about my current job. It seems to be a recurring theme in my work life which is slowly but surely leading me to believe that the reason I’ll continue to have these issues in the workplace isn’t because people really suck at leadership. It’s not because communication from the top down is ass. It damn sure isn’t because diversity initiatives are including more black faces in their company photos but not actually in leadership roles (because we know that that will never change.)

Deep down I know that I’m supposed to be working for myself. Doing what exactly? I still haven’t narrowed it down. Whatever it is, I’m sure it is a combination of writing, education and mental health. But until then, I’ve been focusing on getting the bills paid the old school way.

I don’t know if it’s because of the pandemic or divine timing but lately I’ve been feeling like my book was ahead of its time and that the time is NOW to revamp my efforts in its promotion. 

For the first time in my life (after recording the first episode) I actually loved my recorded voice. I also couldn’t use my favorite excuse that I wasn’t tech savvy. I recorded the episode from a voice memo in my bathroom. I cut out all the bullshit excuses and did that shit.

The Corporate America: I’ve Had Enough of You podcast is a space for me to share the experiences that shaped my book, my current work life and a safe place for other black women to share their similar experiences.

Check out both episodes here. Review, rate and share. Thanks!

Corporate America: I’ve Had Enough of You Podcast

Escaping Survival Mode

According to Psychology Today, “survival mode” is an adaptive response of the human body to help us survive danger and stress. 

From the outside looking in, many people would assume that I had an overall healthy childhood and adolescence. I was raised by my grandparents in the country. I got good grades. I never came off as disobedient. My yes mams and no sirs were always polished. Despite being a “good kid” raised in a super religious household, my life has never been exempt from trauma and dysfunction. I am almost certain that I’ve suffered from depression for years undiagnosed. 

I recently read and shared an article that discussed the immobilizing effects of depression. I recognized myself immediately. I wasn’t in a position to get out of the environment that I was in so I mentally became immobile. I don’t remember how I learned to control my rage. How to play along. How to seemingly “fit” into that world until I could get out of it.

Fast forward to now.

At 30. Far removed from the people, places and things that brought the trauma and dysfunction into my life, I still catch myself functioning in survival mode.

It is very difficult to escape this mindset.

I’m constantly reminding myself. I question my decisions alot. Why am I doing this? When it’s time for me to make important decisions I ask myself if I’m doing what I want to do or what needs to be done? Anything involving money and I’m asking if I’m buying an item from a headspace of lack.

Whatever helps right?

To the person that resonates with this blog:

  1. How are you or have you been working on escaping a mindself of survival mode?
  2. What has been your biggest challenge?

This is 30

Happy New Year to me!

30 is supposedly that pivotal age where you’re supposed to have it all figured out. I always thought that I’d be approaching 30 as a young woman thriving in the career of her dreams. With the love of my life. In a loving home. With a few rugrats running around said home.

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Man. Let me tell you about 30.

As 29 was coming to a close, I did a ton of soul searching and reflecting. I’d lived in NC my entire life. I had a few “almost” attempts to leave but never actually went through with the decision.

One day, I had a purely honest moment with myself.

Rock. This ain’t it! This isn’t the life intended for you boo.

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Here I was. 29. No husband. No boyfriend. No kids (well Milo). I felt STUCK. Stuck in a job that was surely leading me to an early grave. Gifts and talents that weren’t being put to good use. And degrees that were collecting dust. It was time for a change.

30 had to be different.

Today is my birthday. I gifted myself with an entire new life in Texas. I am happy. I am grateful. This is by far the most peace that I’ve had in a long time.

Everything I thought I wanted. Everything I thought I knew.

All out the window.

Despite the thought of living with my sister and brother-in-law at 30. Despite not knowing how long I’ll be here. Despite COVID-19. Despite not knowing what the future holds for myself. Or those that I love. Or you reading this blog.

30 is a reminder that at any moment, you can change the narrative of you life.

30 is a reminder that no matter how much you think you’re in control, you’re not.

30 is a reminder that 30 looks, sounds and feels different for everyone.

30 is a reminder that I’m stronger than I think and wiser than I give myself credit for.

30 is a reminder that it’s never too late for what you deserve.

This is 30. And it’s pretty fuckin lit.