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?

In Case You Were Wondering

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

Write the blog sis!

I’ve been slacking. I’ve been challenged. Most importantly I’m making changes for the better.

Slowly but surely I’ve gotten away from myself and more specifically, my writing. It bothers me more than I care to admit. Not only am I letting myself down, but I also feel like I’m letting down my fellow writers and those that depend on me to keep them motivated.

So just in case you needed a mid-week or mid-life friendly reminder…….

WRITE THE BLOG SIS!!!!!!!

WRITE THE BOOK!!!!!!!

START THE BUSINESS!!!!!!!

The world is waiting

An Open Letter to Assata Shakur

Dear Assata,

I hope that this letter finds you in the comforts of your freedom. I won’t take too much of your time.

One day (about a month or so ago), I visited my favorite herbal apothecary. I picked up a 21 day guided journal and I as gifted a bracelet with “Exist Like Assata” etched into it. I am a firm believer in the intentions of the universe. I took it as a sign that during this current time and space in my life, I was supposed to be learning something from you. Prior to receiving this bracelet, I had no idea who you were, what your impact was or how much you’d change my life. All I knew was that I was being encouraged to “exist” like you….whatever that meant.

Being the bookworm that I am, I decided to begin with your literature. I’ll be honest, I typically finish reading books in about three days. Your autobiography took me over a month to finish.

As I read, I researched. I researched words. I researched locations you mentioned. I researched the Black Liberation Army. Your autobiography was my first introduction to it. In the history of my education, it has NEVER been mentioned and after reading, I fully understand why.

As I read, my blood boiled. I became frustrated. The frustration led to anger. The anger led to feelings of such helplessness that I cried and had to continuously put the book down until I pulled myself together.

Assata, I am in awe of your spirit, strength and the courage that carried you. Thank you for inspiring me to make greater efforts to be an advocate for our people. Most importantly, I thank you for sharing your truth. I wish you continued freedom, light and love.

-Racquell

Museum of Thought: Poetic Perspectives from Adolescence Volume 1

I remember being 13 and experiencing my first thoughts of suicide. I remember bouncing back and between thoughts of hanging myself or overdosing on prescription painkillers. It would be safe, clean and painless. Self-inflicted pain was never my “thing.”

 

Museum of Thought: Poetic Perspectives in Adolescence is a poetic time capsule of my depression. My words sometimes served as a therapeutic release. It was my outlet, but oftentimes I felt that it wasn’t enough. I cried a lot in silence. When I wasn’t crying, I was writing. When I wasn’t crying or writing, I was reading. All the while, nobody in my immediate family knew. I had a few friends that knew how I felt but could only offer the type of support that kids could offer, friendships. I harbored more than my share of negative feelings and emotions.

 

If I allow others to tell my story, they’d assure you that I was happy. I was always smiling and being silly. I was always the “pretty and smart girl that’s going to do well in life.” That’s always been and unfortunately continues to be the narrative that people tell about me. I grew to hate it. It was the image of a person that others created for me, with good intentions I’ll assume.

 

Pretty and smart girls don’t fuck up. Oops, I said fuck. Taboo. Pretty and smart girls do well in school, decline peer pressure, drugs and alcohol (ALWAYS), go to church religiously, don’t have sex casually and marry the guys of their dreams. That’s a whole lot of pressure to be under. A pressure that I never asked for.

 

Oh yeah. And pretty and smart girls damn sure don’t deal with depression.

 

img_2110

 

I’ve never been one to complain and I’m still not extremely comfortable with sharing things that bother me. When you’ve voiced things that bothered you and nothing changed or you’ve been punished for your voice, it forces you to go dormant sometimes. When you’ve voiced things that bothered you and you’ve been judged, it forces you to keep them to yourself and figure it out on your own. That was me for 18 years. For the past 10 years, I’ve been trying to determine exactly how and when to use that voice. 10 years.

 

I’ve held onto some of these poems for well over 15 years. I’m sure that there are more that have been lost or destroyed out of fear that someone would find them, read them and I’d be punished for my thoughts.

 

To be honest, it wasn’t until 2015 that I began to take a look at how all of these factors played into my current mental health. In November 2015, upon suggestion by a psychologist, I voluntarily committed myself to a behavioral health observation unit for 24 hours. Here I was with a whole degree in Psychology sitting there trying to “figure some things out.” Within these 24 hours I learned a lot. I learned that what I had been dealing with was in fact depression along with anxiety. I also learned that if I didn’t deal with it properly, I’d either end up back in the observational unit or worse. It was a chance that I wasn’t willing to take.

 

Deep diving into depression isn’t an easy task. Everything has a root and most of the issues that we face go back to childhood. Reflection forces you to not only hold yourself accountable but it requires you to confront those that contributed to your depression. They don’t get a pass. I forgave myself and them as well. I understood that I could no longer use this as an excuse. I had to move on. Everything needed to be unpacked.

 

Luckily for me, many of these poems were of great help. They were reflections of where I was mentally. I hadn’t looked at these poems in 12 years and here I was digging them out of a bin in search of understanding. I found a binder and began organizing them.

 

 

I debated on how and when I wanted to share my thoughts with the world. I reasoned that if I could help myself, just imagine how many others could possibly be inspired to tell their stories.

 

Over the past 3 years, I’ve been slowly leaking a ton of these poems on my social media and at open mics. It amazed me how much people could relate. There were others who had been journaling and battling with depression for years as well. Some even had the same fears that I had.

 

The universe has a funny way of letting you know it’s time for a shift. I’ve had the ISBN number for Museum of Thought since August but didn’t start typing until I had a private mental breakdown and quit my job. I knew then that the time had come. It was time to release my collection and to be transparent.

 

As you read Museum of Thought, I ask that you reflect back to being 13 years old. Where were you mentally? What mattered? What shouldn’t have mattered? At 16, what was pressuring you? At 18, what decisions were you making? At 21, who mattered and who didn’t? What was the vision that you had for your life?

 

Museum of Thought is a deep dive into what depression felt like as I transitioned from 13-21. It’s an example of what depression looks like for some of us- the strong friend, the happy go lucky person, the go getter. The nerd. The bookworm. The social butterfly.

 

Museum of Thought is a message to my younger self that I never needed to be perfect. I needed to be me. Beautiful things can truly come from broken places. Regardless of what happens, these things remain constant:

 

I am deserving of good things

I am my own light in dark spaces

I am not a victim of circumstance

The universe is aligning things in my favor

This journey is my own and I choose what to accept

 

What does your Museum of Thought say about you?

Manuscript Found in Accra- Paulo Coelho

Warning. You may or may not interpret this book as I have. That’s okay. You may hate this book. That’s okay too. We simply have different perspectives that affect our understandings.

A love from my tribe told me that reading this book would change my life. She was right. The Alchemist is already my second favorite book after Their Eyes Were Watching God. Any chance I get to share my favorite quote, I’m taking it.

“When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it”

It just so happened that I was in the bookstore and I came across Manuscript Found in Accra. Talk about the Universe looking out! I was anxious to dig in.

The book isn’t broken into your typical chapters. Instead it focuses on the truths that a man named Copt shares with a group of townspeople. The truths he discusses are defeat, solitude, change, beauty, direction, love, living in the present, sex, community/friendship, elegance, work, success, miracles, anxiety, the future, loyalty, weapons and lastly enemies.

These are the truths that resonated with me.

Solitude

In solitude, they will discover the love that might otherwise have arrived unnoticed. In solitude, they will understand and respect the love that left them. In solitude, they will be able to decide whether it is worth asking that lost love to come back or if they should simply let it go and set off along a new path. In solitude, they will learn that saying no does not always show a lack of generosity, and that saying yes is not always a virtue.

This was a hard pill to swallow. Despite my social media presence, I’ve been spending quite a lot of time in solitude. Most days I come home just to spend time in silence with my own thoughts. I don’t turn the TV on. On occasion I may even play instrumental music. This minor routine has given me the most clarity and focus that I’ve never had in my life. My creativity has kicked into overdrive. I’ve taken all focus off of relationships to focus on my health and pursuing my passions whole-heartedly. I realized that solitude was actually the void that needed to be filled in my life before I can be open to receive anything else such as love or even success.

For me, these words don’t necessarily have to apply to romantic love. In solitude I was able to rediscover the love that I was neglecting to give myself. I found myself falling in love with me all over again. It’s also allowed me the opportunity to reflect, forgive myself and move forward from the moment and actions that proved that I wasn’t loving myself.

However, when applied to romantic love, I could also relate. I’ve been reflecting like hell. It’s amazing what we miss when we are caught up in the moment. I am able to see past relationships at face value. Strange right? It’s helped me realize that I’ve only ever loved one person unconditionally (or it could have been stupidity) and how dangerous of a state it is to be in so I need to treat unconditional love more delicately.

Change

Everything changes whether we accept and recognize it or not. The Universe has a funny way of telling you everything that you need to hear at the moment you need to hear it.

img_1346

And to those who believe that adventures are dangerous, I say, try routine; that kills you far more quickly.

As it stands I spend forty hours of my life ever week pursuing the passions of someone else when I could be working on my own. It was confirmation that the time has come for me to transition out of my current role.

Direction

Because ever since your goal found out that you were traveling toward it, it has been running to meet you.

I cried when I read this. I cried because I was overwhelmed and overjoyed. I kept rereading and crying even harder. I’ve been putting so much time into this blog, into my poetry, into my writing in general. I’ve also been laying the foundation for Pretty Dope Right? to expand to other areas of interest and the journey is becoming easier. More opportunities are presenting themselves for me to showcase my gift.

Love

Life is too short for us to keep important words like “I love you” locked in our hearts.

Maybe I just give love too freely. I’ve always wondered how and why other people don’t. Other people give up on it. I likely never will. I think what drives me is knowing that one day I’ll actually get it right and everything else in between was just a warmup.

Elegance

Elegance tends to be mistaken for superficiality and mere appearance.

I wonder why people get so caught up in physical attraction. I’ll be honest, even sometimes I get tired of hearing about it. I always ask, well how do you know that beautiful people are good people? People also assume that when you’re beautiful, you’re exempt from negativity, loneliness, pain etc. I assure you, that’s not the case.

Anxiety

As many of you may or may not know, I was diagnosed with anxiety in 2015. These past three years have been one hell of a fight trying to control it without medication. I’ve managed to keep the panic attacks at bay but the anxiety has never fully gone away. One of my minor indicators of me being anxious is biting pen tops. I have to remind myself that “I’m good” or that “regardless of what I’m anxious about, the sun and moon will still take their turns coming out so no worries.”

It will never disappear, but the great wisdom of life is to realize that we can be the masters of the things that try to enslave us.

Enemies

Therefore, your enemies are not the adversaries who were put there to test your courage. They are the cowards who were put there to test your weakness.

 

Have you read Manuscript Found in Accra? What were your interpretations of it?