Hey guys. We are back and featuring the writings of Lei. Things drop in my box randomly. Lei dropped this about a week ago and I can’t wait to see you at the end in the notes. It is a doozy and she is a queen. It takes courage to… Well, you will see what it takes courage to do. Happy scrolling fam. And Happy Black History Month fellow Americans of the United States. I hope you learned about and meditated on some of the greatest scholars of all-time. 🤷🏽♀️ Ok, I’m biased. 😂
The subject that I am about to get into is one that most people I know would feel uncomfortable talking about.
There was an attack on my life.
I know, sounds intense. Let me explain.
Back in 2018, I started to notice that I was different than my usual self.
The world was funneling into global doom as the headlines always suggest. Meghan Markle was marrying Prince Harry. And California was busy becoming the sixth state to legalize recreational marijuana use in America.
But I was not the same. I couldn’t pinpoint exactly what it was but I kept myself busy pretending everything was fine.
In the early stages of the year, work was becoming quite difficult. I had a new job without proper training. Instructions were constantly changing. All against a backdrop of belittlement and humiliation. It was a harrowing experience.
When I was offered the job, I thought that I would be able to assist with a top community project under the direction of a man who is seen as a hero among the people. It is fair to say that I was excited and expectant.
Maybe it was my expectations that are to fault. A lot of people say to keep them low all the time. It’s the best way to avoid disappointment.
Not to mention that my weight had significantly gone up within the past year. I didn’t like the way I looked. And I certainly did not like the way the new weight felt on my body.
So, there was no joy in work, I don’t feel so well, and I don’t look like myself.
My ego was taking a pounding.
Then there was a fire. Everywhere. Literally.
And while Hawaii burned to the ground, my life burned too. Everywhere. Literally.
My family and I experienced our first apartment fire. Our unit happened to be within a building affected.
My youngest sibling was the only one in the building. He was lucky to get out.
However, fate had a different outcome for our possessions. We didn’t get our things back. We were lucky to get assistance and a place to stay for a couple of months.
In the midst of that mess at home, I missed a couple of days at work. I was chastised for it. I went through the procedure to report my circumstances yet was still in trouble.
Everything was falling apart, and all I knew to do, was to do.
For two months, I handled everything that I could; got new clothes, bought food, found furniture, checked out the new apartment unit, rallied assistance from those who could assist. Not once did I think about how this could affect me in the long run. I was going through the motions of everyday life.
I only cried once and said it was done.
It was not done.
And even though my world was imploding, I still couldn’t identify the attack.
I had little to no reason to smile, though I tried my best to give myself reasons and prompts. Outside of my home, my room, I was able to fake the emotions needed to not allow people to think anything was wrong.
At home was a different thing.
Just talking to me was enough to make me snipe or bite your head off.
The anger I tried to hold in me often ended up in verbal lashes on my family.
I wasn’t ok.
I didn’t notice it until a Facebook post pinpointed all the symptoms that I saw in myself in December.
After Christmas 2018 –
I stayed in my room.
Unable to get up.
No will to shower or work.
That’s when I knew I had to get help right away.
Looking around, I searched for a community to give me guidance.
I knew I had depression.
I’ve seen it in others but it took time for me to see it in myself.
And I began sessions with a therapist.
You would think it’s like the movies where I go to sessions and get better right away but have you been reading? Of course, that wasn’t me. My life is nothing like the movies.
I hated it.
Ya girl was annoyed with having to be completely open with a stranger.
And it’s not like she wasn’t nice enough or anything like that.
The problem was with me.
For years I kept quiet and to myself.
Because I didn’t believe I could trust anyone with my emotions.
Life had hurt me so many times, my reaction was to shut everything down.
I did my best to work on getting better.
And do not for once think that I was quiet about what I was going through.
The whole ordeal affected my work and life beyond recognition. I had to talk to everyone I was close to. My parents were open to the discussion. And friends have been beyond supportive but not everyone was understanding.
Most commonly I was asked,
“What do you have to be depressed about?”
Followed with a swift,
“You’ll be fine, just think happy thoughts.”
Happy thoughts didn’t help when my anxiety was physically attacking me.
I wasn’t safe at home or at work. It was a terrible feeling.
My mind & emotions were stalking me.
There is one attack that sticks to the back of my mind.
I was sitting at home, alone, watching tv and laughing minding my own business and drinking water.
When all of a sudden I had to get up.
My body was jittery and was on flight mode.
I paced the floors as my breathing became erratic.
I tried calling for help but no one answered their cell phones.
And I didn’t know what to do.
I laid myself down on the bed and then tears gushed out.
There was no controlling the hysteria I was experiencing.
For a full hour, I cried harder than the day my grandmother took her last breath.
My mind was screaming stop.
But my body…
I got a call back from a loved one and they soothed me.
We stayed on the phone for half an hour just in each other’s company. It worked. My mind calmed.
It came out of nowhere.
It came in my home, while I was getting my hard-earned rest.
The anxiety was stalking me.
I was happy and enjoying myself but ended up with a tear-soaked pillow and a stomach full of pain.
Thankfully through therapy, I was able to get better enough for me to see the freakin’ light.
I did better coping with things at work despite the grueling work conditions that never changed.
And finally, I took my leave of that toxic job and took time for myself.
After two long years, I felt some weight lifted off of me. Physically & emotionally.
But challenges continued to persist.
I had an incredible vacation but soon after I was back in the dark. I tried everything I could to feel a bit better but I had to talk it through.
My anxiety around getting a new job was serious.
How could I work when I was at risk of being in a place that would degrade me again?
And how could I agree to feel at my worst again?
My insecurities were trying to break me.
But today, I am so much better.
Today, they didn’t win. And honestly, they never will.
The past holiday season was a time of worry for me but the darkness that I was anticipating never came.
I’m certain that it will be some time before I can fully trust myself not to break down at any point.
The Lack of Concentration.
The Lack of Motivation.
The Severe Anxiety.
It is all at a level I can handle now.
My smiles are quite genuine!
The tears that I have now are tears of pride.
Look at me and how far I have come. I deserve this.
I got tired of being the strong black woman that could handle it all.
And I got fed up taking everything in stride like it doesn’t bother me. My whole mind felt weighted.
My life was under attack.
There’s only so much one person can take.
I’m sharing this for the sake of those who may be going through the same thing that I was. If you have symptoms of any type and need to reach out for help. Please do.
Whatever you are going through, let someone help you through it. It is completely worth it.
Because you never know when life will attack. And it helps to have help.
I swear by it.
Written By Lebo. Edited By W.D. Herstun.
The world needs your real smile. Keep fighting. Breathing. Therapying. And believing. Also, it was very hard not to pepper the entire thing with ‘Thank God” and “Praise Him”. I understand your process is different and I respect that. (But I am going to pray anyway because it soothes me when the tribe is troubled, which is always these days.) I am proud of you for picking yourself up and washing your face. It is what we do.
For my followers not in America, I am not sure how you find mental health resources. I know that not all countries deal with the same anxiety that Americans are dealing with currently. Either way, get help where you can fam. Americans with healthcare hit them up about mental health on your insurance plan. If you follow me over on Facebook or IG then we can talk more about that privately. Most insurance plans accommodate mental health services to some extent but it was an absolute nightmare finding people on the plan. If you are looking for help, don’t quit. A great place to start is your local library. Ask your librarian for mental health resources, numbers you can call or books you can read. Librarians are sent from the land beyond to help you. It is something our tax dollars are getting right in America. Let them.
For my deeply spiritual followers, you know where to go already. But listen, ask the pastor or the leader of your worship or service for private chats. Or you could ask them for mental health resources. I am praying that most pastors will help you find help. But if you don’t feel safe asking for one-on-one help from your spiritual leader, it’s ok to go to a certified professional.
There is no shame. For my black folks reading, most of us have things in our collective consciousness we can’t fathom individually. In addition, we are living in a capitalist society that is not invested in your health beyond what you can provide or earn. Which is totally fine. It just means you have to be interested. You have to do it. It’s worth the work.
I am not a therapist. And I cannot help you with chronic mental illness. Hell, I can’t help you with tiny mental illness. Just let me be really clear:
I am not qualified to help anyone but myself right now. But as I help me, I will share what I learn, because it could help you.
And. I do love you. Yes, that sounds Wild but it’s true. I love the world with you in it. (Especially the best, most accepting, non-violent version of you. Lmao.) You matter to me. Write to me. I will try to write back. Yell at me. I will try to yell back. Breathe with me. And I will breathe back. Be nice to yourselves. And let’s teach the world to follow suit.
Also, I am tired of hate. Had enough. Living on love currently.