Running and Butterfly Goddess

I do my best thinking on my run. Running helps me to clear my head, helps my anxiety, and helps me build my inner and outer strength.

Running is also my reflection time. Reflection on building up a better life for myself, family, and community. What I could have done better. And what are the next steps. All this and more are probably the reasons why I don’t like running with others. This is something to think about as my marathon training becomes higher mileage, but that’s a topic for another day.

After each run, I post on my Instagram about my run. It started as a way to keep people in the loop about my mental health, but it then became a place to keep me accountable and also as a part of my healing. Mental Health is often a topic we sweep under the rug. And when we become sick due to our mental health because we can’t physically see it, we often don’t give it the attention needed or admit we are sick.

It took me months before I could admit I was sick. I knew I was sick when a friend who was suppose to come out for the weekend canceled on me, and I didn’t leave my house or my bed for a weekend. This sounds normal to some, however for me, I am almost never home and if I am, I am working on art or something. But I didn’t admit or do anything about it.

The second biggest clue was when I was on a flight from Chicago to Phoenix in March 2017. The flight was very bumpy and we were flying through a storm. When the plane dropped, and said to myself, “I don’t want to die this sad.” I didn’t know why I thought that.

I finally admit I was sick in July 2017. My best friend was in town, and we were at a pizza place in Chicago. I just started having an anxiety attack in the middle of the restaurant and crying. My best friend was trying to help, but there was nothing she could do. My body started tensing and then I couldn’t move. We were finally able to leave, but I was at my worse.

There were other moments that followed and were in between these big three that lead to my mental break. Poor diet. Not taking of myself. Poor work environment. However, these moments stand out because it shows how it gradually got worse. I’ve always had anxiety and depression, but like many, I would move on and keep doing what I was doing. Isn’t that the definition of insanity? Doing the same thing and expecting different results. Something like that.

However, I didn’t acknowledge what years of doing that really hurt me until it physically took a toll on me. I couldn’t think. I couldn’t operate. I felt broken. My mom was the biggest help in my life. She would call doctors, sit on the phone with me, and talk to me. My mom is my angel on earth. With her help, therapy, and my framily, I was able to heal and become better. I started building confidence and merging out of my cocoon.

This is why it probably stung the most when this past weekend, a family member used my anxiety as if was a weakness. The context had nothing to do with my anxiety, but a Facebook post that had gotten out of control. When I tried to put a stop to it all, I was told that “anxiety may not be the issue.” When I said they had crossed a line and not to talk about my mental health, they then said something to the affect of agree. Do not bring up your mental health if you do not want people talking about it.

I am happy to talk about my mental health, but not as a weapon of weakness. The more one tells me to stop, the louder I will become. I do not talk about my mental health for others as burden. I talk about it for myself and to bring awareness. It’s healing for me and hopefully will help more people to talk about their journey and get help. It took me a long time to admit that my mental health was not a weakness. That it was good to talk about it. That I wasn’t crazy. And that I am worthy. It does hurt when someone you love decides to go low when you were trying to figure out what was happening.

It’s taken me a long time to be the person I am today and be so open, both online and off. I never shared hurtful moments like my sexual assault, binge eating, or my anxiety as to not disturb the peace. There were bits and pieces, but I wanted to be liked so much that I kept a lot of it hidden. I didn’t want to be too different than what I already was, and I didn’t want too much attention, even though I craved it.

Along with the bad, I never shared too much of the good like my work ethic, education accomplishments, and positives in relationships which is sad as well because I didn’t want to seem like I was bragging. That I was doing good while my community may not have been.

It’s a common struggle and fear for many when our good and bad gets thrown back at us as if it is a weakness. It’s a poor tactic used to silence when there is nothing else. It’s often a tactic some use against those trying to help them, but when used it doesn’t matter what happened before as it crosses lines.

To those who choose to throw or clap back by using mine/your pain and happiness against me/you is not a reflection of you. It is them.

I almost let it get to me, but I am butterfly goddess.

I am proud of the body that allows me to run, dance, and hug those I care about. I am proud of my mind that allows me to create, think, and build. I am proud of my anxiety and depression as it shows me the depths of hell, but also has taught me tools needed to better my life. I am proud of my voice that allows me to speak, tell my truth, and be a warrior.

I am a proud woman of color, and this world will never shut me down.

Summer of 2017

As the sun sets on the last day of summer, I lay sick on my couch. I lay sick reflecting on what happened to me this summer. I also couldn’t handle Being Mary Jane as Mary Jane decides between her new boo and friend.

Anyways, I think about the Summer of 2017.  Chicago in the summmer…you can’t beat it. I wasn’t anticipating that this summer would be the toughest few months I’ve ever faced.

You can say I’ve always had anxiety and depression. It would come in waves and then disappear. Before this summer, I never thought medication was for me or that I wouldn’t want to get out of bed every morning because I got one life and I love. And this summer was filled with so many highs like my sketch show, poetry, walks, brunch, first kisses, Lizzo, cookouts, Matt Damon Improv, and so many new friendships and amazing memories.

But to match the highs came the lowest lows. It’s hard to say what triggered the intense anxiety and physical match of the depression, but I know it intensified, and kept going, when my best friend came to visit. My therapist and my mom, two different people, said my best friend is my safe place. I felt like I could let go with her, and when she went home, I had to deal with it by myself.  One thing I hate is being by myself. I am trying to get better at it, but it’s not my strong trait.

The intense crying came out of no where. When someone asked why are you crying, I couldn’t answer. When I couldn’t go on stage, I couldn’t answer. I couldn’t concentrate at work. My body ached. The thought of showering or brushing my teeth was almost painful. I hated every part of me. I was living in my own hell.

I went to my doctor, who is a saint. She had been mentioning going on medication for a few months now after I broke up with my boyfriend and got laid off in the same week, but I didn’t want to. Maybe she saw the signs before I felt them. However, at this moment I couldn’t take it anymore. I didn’t care, I needed something. I started on Lexapro, and was doing well for awhile, but like all medication and me, my stomach started to hurt and ache after about a month. I told my doctor, and she suggested tappering off and looking for a physiatrist who could help.

I am now experiencing the worst withdrawals. My hands shake. My skin itches. I can’t remember anything. Focusing has become the hardest thing. My brain zaps. Along with it, my anxiety and depression have gotten worse. It takes my mom and aunt calling me to go run and make it to work. It takes talking to Surena all day on GChat to make sure I am still alive. It takes my roommate asking what I had to eat or planning something to get me out of the house. It takes my friends physically coming to my place to make sure I get to my show because they know I would be worse at home. It takes people texting and calling at all hours and just listen to me cry and try to talk. I feel guilty for every message.

There are days I run through the flowers and there are days where I feel like I am drowning. I don’t blame the medication. I don’t even blame me. My brain and body are trying to heal, and are screaming to be heard. I talk and write about my mental health because I hate the stigma it brings. I am not ashamed of who I am, it’s just something that is a apart of my story. I love talking about what I am going through because maybe it will help someone. Maybe they will feel less alone. Talking may help their love ones understand why they can’t just get over it. Think of it as a broken arm…mental illness will not fix itself overnight.

As this summer comes to a close, what is next? I am still feeling sick as I find the right medication, eating plan, and run. I have an idea of my next moves, but at the same time I don’t. My focus is now my health and faith, and what are the steps to get there.

I hope to look back on this summer, and think I did it. But right now, I am just trying to get to the next moment.

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