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

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.

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?