Last month I shared my experience with all of you about how affirmed I felt while being in Atlanta. As beautiful as it was for me to arrive to a place of “Wow, there’s somewhere in this country that’s black and magical af,” that realization also revealed years of being in environments where I was internally unhappy and just doing my best to be happy. It became real to me that in suppressing and internalizing life, I’ve never fully processed anything. I had just been stuffing everything in the closet, taking one or two items out to clean, closing the door to leave everything else for later. To add more clutter to my mental frenzy, I grew anxious on the thought of moving out of state sooner than I planned. I was excited but also had no idea what that would actually look like and I’d also be far from my best friend, “Ford.” I’ve known Ford for two years now, since my tribe extends across states, here in Boston, Ford has been my cheerleader. Like seriously my best friend, challenging me outside of my comfort zone and being available to help me process my everyday. Needless to say, if we were states a part I would miss Ford tremendously.
I spent the rest of May attempting to keep my "stuff" leveled. Since my levels of irritability were increasing, my attempts to stay "leveled" was an epic fail. Anything and everything got under my skin! At work especially, I was internally fuming over things that don’t usually bother me.
Coworkers: “Hey! How was your weekend?”
I was trippin and had no idea why, neither was I giving myself the alone time to process my feelings. Then memorial weekend came through and my toilet bowl spilled over onto Ford. There I was in my car having a complete melt down, screaming, and crying about EVERYTHING.
Before I knew it, I was the only person left on the phone. I sat there emotionally exhausted and wondering what the hell was that and WHO the hell was that?! I hadn’t been unrecognizable to myself since 2016 so I knew I needed to go back to therapy. During my time of minding my business, I journaled daily, and sent countless texts of apologies to Ford - Aaliyah 4 page letter type of apologies.
I started to feel like I was slowly getting to the root of the mess until May 30th, I experienced my worst panic attack that landed me in the ER. This attack was triggered by someone abusive from my past which I plan to go into more detail about in another post. But y’all, I was scared, felt like I was being choked, I absolutely had no idea what to do, how to feel, or who to turn to. My time in the ER was horrendous, I spent 5hrs at the hospital for a doctor to give me a WebMd summary about panic attacks, a tip of, "Next time this happens, just breathe," and a $150 copay...
As a social worker, I was truly disgusted by this poor medical care. I spent weeks following my panic attack reliving my aggravation of trying to finding a therapist of color (my search started in February). With every call to insurance and PCP visits driving me up the wall, I remained determined to get the higher level of care I needed. I no longer wanted to ever be in a place where my shit was spilling over uncontrollably all because I never fully addressed them – it’s better to be in a place of prevention as opposed to intervention.
Standing in My Naked Truth
"It’s better to be in a place of prevention as opposed to intervention."
I finally found a therapist and I’m unpacking my stuff, a part of this process also involves me embracing that I have Dysthymia (Persistent Depressive Disorder). I’ve always been aware that my lows get too low and dark, so I wasn’t too surprised by my therapist revealing this to me. This part of my mental health is my naked truth – a bone in my closet that I’ve never wanted to accept. But I refuse to go into my 30s with generational toxicity. As much as moving out of state is in the future, I also don’t want to bring junk into that kind of a major life transition.
In the meantime, I have moved closer to Boston in a healthier living space where I find peace of mind everyday. This move was long overdue and much needed. Even if MA isn’t my ideal "settling down" state, my everyday living space has to be my sanctuary; otherwise I’ll always feel unhappy and stressed. Right now, my living space is my sanctuary and I’m at peace. In this moment of time where I think about “what’s next,” it’s important to me that my next step with myself and others involves, considers, and embraces mental health. My black/West Indian culture, allows shame and pride to make us believe it's okay to ignore years of hurt. Leaving us to subconsciously pass it on to the next generation, not this time.
Emotional dysregulation and unhealthy communication will stop with me. I am committed to managing my emotions – deep breathing throughout the day and practicing healthy communication. I’ve shared the beginning of my journey with family and Ford (he too is on his therapy journey, I’m rooting for you black man) and now I share this with all of you. Definitely not because I really want to but because I know I’m not the only one. Anyone who is familiar with me knows this conviction to better manage my emotions doesn’t come easy. The past 48hrs alone was full of events out of my control where my conviction to remain emotionally regulated was tested:
It was my sis’ bday and her plans changed so I ended up going to NY w/o packing anything, we celebrated and I lost my phone at the venue. I still had a great calm night, brunch on Saturday was complimentary, and then I found my phone before leaving NY! I was like "Wow, look at how smooth life is when you happen to life instead of it happening to you." Driving back on this high with The Carter's "Everything is Love" in the background, I received my last test for the weekend. Deige and I were involved in a hit and run on the highway in Providence. We were in the middle lane and suddenly the car swerved to the right lane. My head and shoulder slammed against the driver window. Our car finally stops, we look up to see the driver continuing on his path of speed. Dazed and in shock, we pulled over into the emergency lane and called the police.
I have this deep fear about car accidents, on the highway especially. Since I was driving, I’d usually be hysterical and throw up from the anxiety. Shaken up of course, after we spoke to the police, for some reason I didn't feel my anxiety rise - just grateful to be alive. I looked at Deige and said, “Sis, are you good? Thank God there weren’t any cars to the right of us. God had us all weekend, He still has us," and we drove home to Beyonce's "Pray You Catch Me" and Hezekiah Walker's "Grateful."
My weekend was filled with moments where my normal response would have been negative talk and self blame. But after a major panic attack, my mind and body can no longer afford to lay in my woes. I want to be better for myself and those around me - my mental health is my priority.
On that note, the blog posts to come will go into further detail on my mental health journey. As I unpack and process with my therapist, I will share with you all on you how my past experiences have translated into my adult life. Family dynamic, religion, sexuality, career, body image, and more will be on the table.
I’m ready to be “naked” with all of you, show you what’s behind my walls, will you love me naked?