Categories
May 2021

Post #18: Hello depression and anxiety my old friends

I’ve had depression and anxiety for as long as I can remember. However, I wasn’t officially diagnosed with having anything until 2017.

Prior to being diagnosed, in 2016, I started attending both group and individual therapy in grad school. I was having a hard time. Not with my coursework though. I was at a huge PWI several states away from most of my friends and family. I was one of a few black people in my program. I was having difficulty adjusting. On top of that, I had two decades of abuse and trauma to work through.

Notably, in mid 2014, I was sexually assaulted by a guy I was dating. This experience wasn’t my first encounter with having an unwanted experience with a person I was dating. However, the nature of the experience changed me for the worse. I sought solace in things that did not make the feeling of being “dirty” go away. My levels of anxiety and depression only increased.

In May 2019, I decided to go on medication to assist me in my mental health journey. I already had been working with a therapist. Upon asking me a few questions, my primary care physician gave me a series of assessments. I ranked in the “severe” category for both anxiety and depression. I already knew that something was “wrong”.

Life had been kicking my ass making my already fragile mental health even worse. Dealing with the loss of my mom and general unhappiness with my career caused me to dread waking up every morning. Dragging myself out of bed felt like what I can imagine is the equivalent of climbing Mount Everest. I couldn’t concentrate. My brain was foggy all of the time. I was always tired.

Two years later, I am thankful to have gone on my medication. I am able to focus so much better and operate without a looming sense of existential dread. My life has improved substantially. I have been able to focus on being there and celebrating my loved ones. I originally thought that going on medication made me a failure. However, I realize more than ever that my conditions were (are) a chemical imbalance. I couldn’t “will” myself into fixing it. I’m living now and not merely existing.

Categories
May 2021

Bonus: Plus size confessions

I was in middle school when my biological father told me what he deemed to be my fate. He told me that “no boy would ever like me because I was fat”. I have internalized these words for almost 20 years.

I’m sure that I was not the only little fat girl that was told those ugly words. Whether it was said by a family member, classmate or other individual…it still hurts. It’s even worse when the sharpness of those words still replays in your head so many years later. No matter how hard I try to accept and love myself, I still move with the knowledge that I am deemed to be “undesirable” and “unloveable” because of my size (by some people).

When I dropped 70 pounds in college, I was determined to find a romantic partner. In my head, the only barrier to me being in a successful relationship was the number on the scale. I obsessively counted calories and worked out like a maniac. I gained validation by seeing the number on the scale go down. However, honestly, none of my relationships improved by me being smaller. I still was stuck in a cycle of wanting to crawl out of my skin and hide under a rock. I pretty much hated myself. The men I dated still wasted my time and ultimately the relationships didn’t lead to anything long-term.

I currently am over 100 pounds heavier than my lowest adult weight. Some, but not all of it had to do with me dealing with the loss of my mom by emotional eating. I am not happy with my current size but I am at peace. However, I am not actively doing anything to change it. I am fortunate not to hate myself anymore. I would love to lose weight but I have to commit to doing what it takes. I’m not there yet but I can tell that I am getting close. Until then, I choose to not beat myself up for being human. Whether I stay the same size, lose or gain weight, I know that I still have a lot of unlearning to do. My goal is to never be the reason why someone feels unworthy (especially because of their body size). Including myself…

Categories
May 2021

Post #17: Issa Natural Hair Wash Day

My natural hair is currently the longest it has ever been in my adult life. I have had countless struggles with my hair for over the past decade or so (see Post 13).

I made the decision to unloc my hair during April 2020. The pandemic closed most hair salons and I got tired of looking rough. I had only been loced for about 3 months. I decided to commit to taking care of my natural hair and refrain from cutting it.

Currently, my hair is about 9-10 inches when stretched. I am proud of myself. For the most part, I have stuck to a set routine with some variation here and there. I’ve also worn wigs less often and allowed my hair to breathe.

Here is my routine:

  • Prepoo hair on a monthly basis
  • Shampoo my hair weekly or biweekly
  • Condition my hair during each wash and detangle
  • Deep condition for and hour twice a month using a heated cap
  • Oil scalp after each wash
  • Use the LCO (leave-in, cream and oil) method to prep and style hair in two strand twists

Here are some of the products I use:

  • For Pre-poo: Olive oil and Africa’s Best Originals Hair Mayonnaise
  • For Shampoo: Aveeno Clarify & Shine Apple Cider Vinegar Blend Conditioner OR Carol’s Daughter Black Vanilla Sulfate Free Shampoo
  • For Conditioner: Herbal Essences Hello Hydration Conditioner
  • For Deep Conditioner: Miss Jessie’s Rapid Recovery Treatment MIXED WITH Mielle’s Rosemary Mint Strengthening Hair Masque
  • For Oil: Olive Oil, Jamaican Black Castor Oil and Wild Growth Hair Oil
  • For Leave-In: Design Essentials Almond & Avocado Detangling Leave-In Conditioner
  • For Cream (or Gel): Design Essentials Almond & Avocado Honey Curl Forming Custard

What are your staple hair products?

Categories
March 2021 Uncategorized

Bonus: So I gotta little boo now…

If you would have told me that I would end up meeting someone dope during a pastrami (also known as a pandemic), I would have called you a liar. However, I did. He’s pretty great.

I journeyed into the land of Bumble for what was going to be my last time (at least in 2020). I had incredibly low expectations. I had dated several men before and after the pandemic without anything substantial coming from it. After finding out that the last guy I had talked to was still married (legally separated) and had a whole 90 Day Fiance situation, I was done.

However, after attending one of my best friend’s weddings (we were masked and it was beautiful), I decided to give Bumble another shot. I usually never date younger men. However, I figured that I had nothing to lose. I lowered the age to 27. After that, he was one of the first individuals I swiped right on.

These past few months have been absolutely incredible. We dated for about a month and a half before deciding to be in a relationship. We have had so much fun even during this terrible world situation. We haven’t argued and share a lot of the same interests. He respects my opinions and I respect his.

From at-home dates to mini socially distanced day trips/getaways, we always find something fun to do and something good to eat. I can actually see a future with him which is refreshing. He treats me so well. We constantly ask each other “where did you come from?”. We live sooo close to one another and never crossed paths. I’m glad we both swiped right. I’m looking forward to creating more memories with him in the future 😊

Have you ever tried dating apps?

Categories
March 2021

Post #16: Hello loso (low sodium) eating

In December of 2020, I received unexpected news during a routine medical appointment. My blood pressure was abnormally high. At 29, I had never experienced this issue before. I was told to come back in a month for a follow up appointment.

Due to being super busy with work, I returned almost two months later. Honestly, I had changed nothing about my eating habits. I was sure that the previous measurements were just weird outliers. However, while my blood pressure had lowered some, it still teetered between the elevated blood pressure and high blood pressure (stage 1) zone. I was devastated. My PCP discussed putting me on blood pressure medicine but I asked her for an opportunity to make some lifestyle changes.

Since college, I have gained an enormous amount of weight. I lost 70 pounds in college through calorie counting and exercise. However, I was not able to keep up this same momentum while transitioning into the working world. I would go through bouts of losing weight and working out but they would never last for more that 3-4 months.

This wake up call got my attention. Losing my mother due to congestive heart failure complications (along with other conditions) completely broke me. My depression was debilitating. It should have been my sign to cut back on salt and get back on track. However, it drove me to continue to seek comfort in food especially fast food. I rejected any thoughts of working out. Doing the bare minimum was difficult enough.

I am now in a better place due to seeking help. Being in this better place helps me to realize that I cannot allow myself to become a casualty due to my own poor decisions. I am not perfect but I want to put forth a good effort in shifting my lifestyle.

So far I have done the following things:

1. Started cooking more and eating out wayyyyy less

2. Cooking with low salt or no salt seasonings (no added table salt or salty seasonings)

3. Trying to keep my daily sodium intake to less than 1500mg-2000mg

4. Buying low sodium food options in stores ( low sodium or reduced sodium broth, beans, bacon and tortillas are examples)

5. Monitor my blood pressure by testing at least 1-2 times per day

I definitely have not been perfect and have yet to start back working out. However, my goal is to start back soon using some Youtube videos. I have a follow up appointment in 2 months and my goal is to be back in the normal blood prssure range and ten pounds lighter.

My goal is to never have to start high blood pressure medicine. Wish me luck!!!

Do you monitor your salt intake on a regular basis?
Categories
February 2021

Bonus: My favorite perfumes

While I still enjoy a good fruity body spray from Bath & Body Works, I am growing to appreciate slighty more “womanly” scents. My top 10 favorite perfumes (in random order) are:

1. Light Blue-Dolce & Gabbana*

2. Gucci Guilty-Gucci

3. Good Girl (Supreme)-Carolina Herrera*

4. Black Opium Neon (Intense)-Yves Saint Laurent*

5. Yellow Diamond-Versace*

6. Gucci Bloom-Gucci

7. Ocean di Gioia-Armani

8. Candy-Prada

9. Daisy-Marc Jacobs

10. White Diamonds-Elizabeth Taylor

*Top Four Fragrances

What is your favorite perfume?

Categories
January 2021

Post #15: The cost of grief

I recently viewed a video on Facebook related to the business of funeral homes. It triggered many emotions within me.

Unfortunately, at age 29, I have helped to plan two funerals for individuals close to me. When I was 15, I helped my mom plan my grandmother’s funeral in 2007. My mom was an only child. I planned my mother’s funeral in 2019. I am also an only child. These two experiences top the list of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do.

After I lost my mom, all I wanted to do was sleep and disappear into my bed. I didn’t want to go through the formalities of taking care of everything or trying to smile in people’s faces. My world had literally been turned upside down. Depression and grief were kicking my ass. However, I know that carrying out these responsibilities is a display of love for the deceased.

However, this display of love costs a lot of money. If you are lucky, your love one will have things in place to assist with the cost. My grandmother’s funeral service and burial totaled around $8000. My grandmother did not trust banks. Remarkably, she managed to save enough money to pay money for her own funeral. I kid you not, she hid the money in small bags in her favorite recliner. When my mother and I counted the money, it was in excess of what we needed for her final plans. I am still in awe to this day.

My mother always believed in planning at least to some extent. For the longest, I remember going with her each month to pay on a funeral/life insurance policy. Her total funeral costs totaled about $4500. She had enough insurance to cover her service as well which I am grateful for.

I shared these personal anecdotes to show how expensive funerals can be and how important it is to have a plan for yourself and your loved ones. I had nothing but a pleasant experience with the funeral home that I used for both my mom and my grandmother. It also helps that the owner and my mom went to high school together and knew me all of my life. Death is hard. However, having a plan/insurance can at least ease some of the financial burden and stress.

Categories
December 2020

Bonus: Some things I am thankful for

Thanksgiving is usually when we highlight the things we are thankful for. However, in the last month of an insane 2020, I would like to highlight a few things I am definitely grateful for.

  • Family
  • Friends
  • My significant other
  • Hope
  • Candles
  • Sweatpants
  • Headwraps
  • Youtube/Netflix/Hulu
  • New opportunities
  • Love
  • Beautiful flowers
  • The giggles of babies
  • Puppies/kittens (pretty much any small furry animal)
  • Mobility
  • The health of myself and loved ones
  • Mental clarity
  • Closure
  • Job
  • New administration in 2021
  • Car
  • Apartment
  • Dulce de leche ice cream
  • The sacrifices of my ancestors
  • Memories of my mother and grandmother 💗
  • Anticipation of a new year

While it is understandable to grieve the experiences we weren’t able to have, we must celebrate the things we do have. Gratefulness is a daily practice

Categories
November 2020

Post #14: Uncomfortable vulnerability

I have tried to avoid being vulnerable like the plague. All of my life, I have never had the luxury of being “soft”. The world does not allow girls (women) like me to be soft. Oftentimes, we aren’t the ones who get rescued. There aren’t fathers who are functional enough to protect us and shield us from the world. They are battling their own demons. We have to fight tooth and nail to rescue ourselves. This fact leads to the building of lifelong walls that are almost impossible to tear down.

However, I am opening up to the idea of being vulnerable. Losing my mom forced me to open up a level of vulnerability that exposed my emotions for the world to see. I’ve always believed that grief should not be for public consumption. At my mom’s funeral, I fought with everything in me not to cry at the service. I made the mistake of touching her body in the coffin. Her body was cold just like it had been when she was fighting for her life in ICU…hooked up to a ventilator. I couldn’t contain my grief after that.

As I age, I am learning to tear down walls I built in my youth. I’m more open to asking for help and admitting my mistakes. Who knows, maybe I’ll even end up letting go enough to fall in love…we’ll see

Categories
November 2020

Bonus: Preserve your sanity…log off

Please make a mental health plan for tomorrow and probably Wednesday as well. I plan on avoiding all news outlets and social media. Here are some ideas:

  1. Paint on a canvas
  2. Read or listen to an audiobook
  3. Meditate
  4. Call a friend or loved one
  5. Clean your house/apartment
  6. Light some candles
  7. Sage your space
  8. Listen to your favorite podcasts
  9. Watch stand up comedy specials
  10. Go to sleep early
  11. Cook or bake something
  12. Journal
  13. Listen to music
  14. Put your phone on do not disturb for a few hours
  15. Give yourself a home pedicure or manicure
  16. Color in a stress relief coloring book for grown folks