Black Men & Trauma

Today I had the amazing opportunity to talk to one of my old high school friends. Over the years I have watched her grow. Thank God for social media! We were always able to keep in touch and say “Hey Girl!” now and then. Her posts and messages on social media always grabbed my attention. The girl is damn brilliant! She would post issues that plague the African American community, she would discuss motherhood and spirituality. She even had the pleasure of speaking in front of the great Dr.Cornell West. She believed in most of what I believed in so I had to get her on my join me on my social media to drop some knowledge.

Before the words could even escape my mouth, she expressed that we should discuss “Black Men”. That girl must have read my mind, i swear I think she has telepathy. While discussing black men we brought up things that pose a major concern within the black community, specifically Black men and trauma. Why is it that so many black men remain silent after experiencing trauma? Why don’t they seek out therapy, even resources to support their healing?

First lets look at the statistics shall we?

  • African Americans are more likely to have feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and worthlessness than adult whites.
  • Blacks and African Americans are less likely than white people to die from suicide at all ages. However, Black and African American teenagers are more likely to attempt suicide than White teenagers (9.8 percent v. 6.1 percent).
  • Studies examining trauma exposure among community samples of Black males show that approximately 62% have directly experienced a traumatic event in their lifetime, 72% witnessed a traumatic event, and 59% have learned of a traumatic event involving a friend or family member
  • Trauma has been identified as a major public health and medical issue, and Black males ages 18 and older are at a noticeably high risk for trauma exposure.
  • Homicide rates for Black males are 26.77 per 100,000 compared to 2.67 per 100,000 for their White counterparts, and they are roughly three times more likely than White men to be victims of a nonfatal injury by firearm.

The statistics are shocking and very frightening. Many black males who experience a traumatic event will go on with their lives without persistent lasting negative outcomes, but other men may experience traumatic stress that lead to mental and/or behavioral outcomes. Young men of color in communities where violence is prevalent can develop post-traumatic stress disorder from events they have experienced or witnessed. For example witnessing physical abuse, being a victim of physical and sexual abuse, witnessing drug abuse seeing a person they love get killed in front of them or knowing someone close to them who has been killed. Those experiences shape, mold, and determine how the male will view the world and the people in it. Many African Americans lack access to the health care system, so they self-medicate with alcohol or drugs, or sexual promiscuity. This can impair their ability to get a job, so they fall into illicit and illegal activities. It can impair their ability to get a proper education. Black men don’t trust the police to protect them, so they carry a gun. This can lead to violent interactions, incarceration or death. Throughout Men’s lives, racism amplifies the lack of opportunities they face.

With acknowledging this information, what can we do as black women to support black men who have experienced trauma? How can we love them through their healing process? During my live interview with my high school friend Ashley she discussed some of the reasons why so many black men experience trauma and why most don’t or wont seek the help they require.

Self Love

This is a piece of our conversation on self love.

Me: “How can we help men to navigate and heal from trauma”?

Ashley: “What’s interesting is what i learned on my journey is understanding that you heal naturally when you first have learned to heal thyself, and what happens is the love abound within you should be on a frequency level, that is spiritual. See there’s no denying the spiritual. Spritually and loving unconditionally dosent necessarily mean we will be around them to take on their pain, but by loving unconditionally given the spirit and frequency, it offers up a certain level of perspective that allow men to change their thinking which then causes them to go in and do their individual work and heal”.

Me: “Wow”

Ashley: “For me, when i look at the black man ecspecialy men i have i personally dealt with i notice the same line of defense, every man is operating from thier trauma and their spritual awareness, or lack there of”.

Me: “I agree some men are disconnected from spirituality”.

Ashley: “Yea, When a black man is not aware of his spirituality he is weakened by the human experience. That human experience is very dramatic, its very emotionally imbalanced, its very toxic, and there’s no power, no authentic living, there is no real love, they become hardened then we become hardened. We take on this energy, the roles get switched and next thing you know, there is no submission, there is no submission to each other, there’s no submission to purpose, there’s no submission to the internal being that is, and then we are out of whack”.

Me: nodding my head

Ashley: Language is also important. Being on that spiritual journey requires acceptance. Prayer is a form of language. Where are you praying from? a lot of black men they pray from a spirit of begging “lord if you just give me this ill stop”, women do it too, but it’s the spirit of begging, not knowing that what you say is so, not knowing and understanding that as a black man you have the authority to dictate and control how you think, but you’ve been bombarded with improper food, drinking alcohol, things that minimize your vibration, Bad toxic previous relationships, and beliefs that don’t serve you”.

Me” Yes, Yes!”

Ashley: “We put a lot of responsibility on the black man, which there is a responsibility but, as a woman, you came from my womb i carry the “burden” of your trauma now because our families have been torn apart by racism, by slavery, by the oppressive society all the way down to the welfare system where the black man is not allowed to be in the home if you want to collect food stamps and aide for your home, your not allowed to have a dual family home.

Me: “So that self love takes time”?

Ashley: “Yes! loving thyself doesn’t happen over night because it a journey, but we want that self love to come quick, like instant gratification that’s our problem. As a black man, especially as a black woman, self love is not just saying “i love myself”, its literally combing through the nuts and bolts, the trauma, the pain, the justification for being angry, the “you were wrong you hurt me”, all of that energy being able to take that and observe it, not identifying with it and letting it pass creates a level of abundance and prosperity of which they cant fuck with. Create the foundation of loving thy self first”.

Me: “Wow, what are other things that we can do as black women to support black men”?

Ashley: “Listen! shut up and listen not everything needs to be a discussion, every error he makes dosent need to be corrected by you, natural consequences are the best teachers in life, just be there, help him push through. Be supportive offer little sentiments like text messages that encourage him saying “i hope you have a great day”.”When you walk past a black man on the street, smile and say “hey black man, i hope you have a great day.”

Stigma

Black and African American hold beliefs related to stigma, psychological openness, and help-seeking, which in turn affects their coping behaviors. African American men are particularly concerned about stigma. Stigma and judgment prevent African American people from seeking treatment for their mental illnesses. However, it is important to note that reservations against treatment may be rooted in actual experiences of racism and encounters with medical professionals lacking cultural awareness. Research indicates that Blacks and African Americans believe that mild depression or anxiety would be considered “crazy” in their social circles. Furthermore, many believe that discussions about mental illness would not be appropriate to speak about even among family. Many African Americans also have concerns about treatment effectiveness, which may be due to both lack of education and cultural beliefs. Apprehension about clashing with the morals or worldview of the clinician can cause ambivalence about seeking help, and this may be especially true for the many who believe that mental health treatment was designed by white people for white people.

Financial And Other Factors

Many black men lack financial resources to for mental health treatment. Most don’t have the extra income or health insurance to seek treatment. African Americans also view the typical psychologist as an older, white male or white female who would be insensitive to the social and economic realities of their lives. In the psychology profession there aren’t many therapists or psychiatrist that look the black men who require treatment. Work, family responsibilities, commitments, and transportation issues can overshadow the need for therapy, Another way to reduce fears is to offer free assessments and phone consultations, which will help familiarize potential patients with the clinic, clinician, and treatment. Clinicians might use initial contacts to address fears of being involuntarily hospitalized by explaining the difference between typical mental health challenges and “being crazy”.

Hearing the reality of black men and how they deal with trauma opened my eyes. I now hold so much appreciation for black men. So much is put on their shoulders, and as black women, its critical that the black man feels loved and supported, he needs to know that we will be there in his corner when his world seems to be falling apart. As black people we also need to acknowledge that this “system” that was made for us will not go away. My Friend Ashley had this to say about the “system”. “The system is not going to change, you have to change. As a black man or black woman you must step inside your divinity, your power, your spirit, and operate from that power source in order for you to not even be affected by whats happening in this world today, that’s the only way”.

BLACK MEN WE LOVE YOU!

BLACK MEN WE NEED YOU!

BLACK MEN YOU ARE IMPORTANT!

BLACK MEN YOU ARE APPRECIATED!

If you would like to view more of our conversation

Follow me on Instagram @theofficialblackgirldiaries

Featured Photo: Rawpixel

References:

CDC. (2018). Health United States, 2017 Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/hus/hus17.pdf

Exposure to trauma: a comparison of cocaine-dependent cases and a community-matched .Afful SE, Strickland JR, Cottler L, Bierut LJDrug Alcohol Dependancy. 2010 Nov 1;46-53

Cuff R, & Matheson FI (2015). Women, trauma & incarceration: What they say, how we work. Retrieved from http://content.govdelivery.com/accounts/USDOJBOPNIC/bulletins/111206c

Race/ethnic differences in exposure to traumatic events, development of post-traumatic stress disorder, and treatment-seeking for post-traumatic stress disorder in the United States.Roberts AL, Gilman SE, Breslau J, Breslau N, Koenen KCPsychol Med. 2011 Jan;71-83

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Division of Analysis, Research, and Practice Integration. (2016). 2014 Violence-related all injury causes nonfatal injuries and rates per 100,000. http://webappa.cdc.gov/sasweb/ncipc/nfirates2001.html

Treatment barriers for low-income, urban African Americans with undiagnosed posttraumatic stress disorder.Davis RG, Ressler KJ, Schwartz AC, Stephens KJ, Bradley RGJ Trauma Stress. 2008 Apr; 21. 218-22

CDC. (2019). Summary Health Statistics: National Health Interview Survey: 2017 https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nhis/shs/tables.htm

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Daddy Issues

I grew up in a single parent home. My mother raised me all by herself. To me, she was mom and dad. As a child I always felt like there was something missing, My father. Ah! So many great memories of my absent father, Shall we take a walk down memory lane? Let’s see, my mother ran him over when I was a young child (He lived don’t worry) but technically he had it coming. I spent one weekend with him and my two older brothers where he bought me two pairs of shoes (such a generous man) Oh! and let me not forget the after birthday visit when he dropped off a bunch of Nsync memorabilia in the middle of the night, no wait, or that one time he came to a track meet and stayed for 30 minutes. Father of the year award goes to………

Those three memories stuck with me, those were the only times I could recall being with my dad. My mom was not one of those hard to deal with babymama’s, she wanted my father to be play an active role in my life. She wanted me to spend time with him and build a relationship. She didn’t talk bad about him (not to me anyway) but I know she felt some type of way about my father being a dead beat. My father had struggles with addiction, I’m sure he had experienced trauma, but I always thought to myself “is that really an excuse”? As a little girl I thought he could have he could have tried a tad bit harder.

I was not his only child, just his only girl out of 8 boys. I felt as if I wasn’t a priority in his life, I wanted to desperately be apart of his world no matter if he had an addiction or not, I didn’t care, I just wanted my daddy. I often felt as if he never cared. I cried for my father, most nights. I would ask myself “What did I do wrong” “why doesn’t daddy want me”? A little girl shouldn’t have to ask those questions, they should be asking “daddy can I have an ice cream cone”? Or “daddy can you read me a story”? Not “daddy do you love, do you want me”? Little girls should be able to depend on their father when they need them the most. A girls father is her first love. I would fantasize that my father and I would have the same type of relationship that singer Brandy had with her on screen father on the show “Moesha”. The simple Daddy/daughter pleasures of life were non existent. He didn’t teach me how to ride a bike, he wasn’t there to hold me when I cried, he missed great report cards, parent meetings, holidays, birthdays, prom, high graduation, all my firsts. Do you know how damaged I was as a kid? as a teen? as a grown adult now? I needed my father!

There were many times when I would go into the bathroom at my My elementary school, cry, and hide in the bathroom stall when it was occasions involving fathers. It could be a father’s day celebration, field trips, father and Daughter dances. My mom wasn’t able to attend most of these events due to the fact that she worked her was off to provide for my sister and i, so I understood she couldn’t participate. I can admit now that i would be jealous and heartbroken when my friends father’s would take them trick or treating, or pick them up early from school for a picnic or trip to the movies. Why couldn’t I experience the same joys?

My mother, bless her heart, did the best she could to teach me about life, about responsibility, the importance of education, and how to become independent, but there were some things that my father should have taught me, things that only a dad would be able to explain to his babygirl. The absence of my father not only affected the way I felt about myself, but it affected the way I viewed men. I didn’t have the slightest idea of what it was meant to be loved by the opposite sex, there was no outline or diagram that I could have utilized to avoid a shit load of heartbreak. How was I to know that not all men had The best intentions? My father could have talked to me about it if he had been present. How would I be able to recognize genuine intention from the opposite sex?

The yearning for make attention spilled over into my teenage and adult life. I wanted so desperately to be loved, accepted, and desired by a man that I knew didn’t have my best interest at heart. I would jump into “relationships” completely blind, I had no expectations for men, I didn’t know that it was my right to have certain expectations. I had no clue that some men boys/men could be total assholes, not all But some. My mother would put me on game about boys/men, but it’s different when the message is coming from another trusted male in your life, your father. Would a mother be able to talk to her son about certain things that only a male can explain? Am I making sense here?

I find myself blaming my father for a lot of heartbreak that I have experienced being with men, I shouldn’t put all the blame on him, but I think my life would have turned out slightly different if my dad and I had a relationship. I resented my father for many years. I loathed him. The more I learned and experienced this so called thing called “life” I was able to identify what it meant to be truly loved, to love myself, and receiving love from a man. Don’t get me wrong, I love my father, I have to from a Christian stand point, I’m also apart of him. I hope My father and I get to get to a point where we can hash things out and I can be completely transparent with him. I even fear now that whatever I say will miss him off and he will leave again.

For the past few years my father and i have tried to work on our relationship, but to be completely honest, at times I find it extremely hard to connect. I feel like the bonding portion of our relationship is non existent, I feel like it has passed. I’m unsure if we will ever be able to have a great father/daughter relationship, but I’m hopeful. I’m on the long road to healing myself, i’m doing my part to ensure I am mentally and spiritually ready to open up to my dad. Attending therapy and talking about my issues with my father has been very helpful. It’s definitely a process. I’m not sure if my father has ever healed from his trauma, but I hope he can also break the cycle of stigma around black men and mental health. One day I hope we can physically reunite, and when we do I want him to say “Baby girl I’m here, daddy isn’t going anywhere and nothing can keep me from you”.

Featured Photo: Quotes Gram

I Think I Need Therapy

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, the stay at home order, The death of George Floyd and global protests, things have been uncomfortable and difficult to cope with. I found that my anxiety has taken a toll for the worst. I have heard that with this time of isolation, it should be viewed as an opportunity to slow down, rest, regroup, re-prioritize, and to sit in whatever your feeling, positive or negative. I sat way too damn long. I found myself being swallowed by thoughts that i don’t usually have when i’m occupied. The thoughts are not really thoughts at all, but memories. Good and bad. Don’t you just hate good happy memories? i mean think about it, all the good memories that you may have experienced with people who are no longer in your life. The of laughter, peace, fun, excitement, great sex. Those memories are ingrained forever, they weigh out the bad memories. Scientist explain memories as “formed proteins that stimulate our brains cells to grow and form new connections literally rewiring our minds’ circuitry. Once that happens, a memory is stored in your mind, and for most of us, it’ll stay there as long as we occasionally reflect upon it or revisit it”.  “In fact, every time we revisit a memory, that memory becomes malleable again, the memory remains there as long as we revisit it from time to time,and is reset stronger and more vividly than before”. Isn’t that something? i know some of you wish that there was a way to erase the bad memories, some of the good one’s too depending on who is in it. It sounds silly imagining myself lying under a large magnetic device to swipe my memory hardrive, or taking a prescribed pill with the name “memory be gone” on the bottle is rather weird, but in a way, i wished that they both existed. I’m pretty sure i’m not the only one that experiences this often am i? Memories get intense, especially when you have nothing to do. I mean, its only so much cleaning, organizing, and reading a girl can do. I find it exciting and stimulating when there is noise all around, people here and there, kids screaming while they play, but it’s been a ghost town. This quarantine has opened up memories that i tried so hard to forget. When i sit in isolation, i take a deep journey into the unknown, the most dangerous place, my mind.

Finding out that i will be reunited with co workers, students, and parents on June 15th, made me jump for joy, Finally! i can become so immersed in my occupation that i wont have time to think of good or bad memories. If i do begin thinking of one of my many memories, my little alarm clocks will go off, (my students) and they will bring me back to the current moment. I will be able to center myself and fill my thoughts of tasks that need to be completed for that particular day. But what happens when i’m alone again?  what happens when i have completed all my tasks and my “thoughts” start to wander? Realizing that i may have to let go of a person, the memory of them, and the good times that were created, is painful. I want to relive that period in my life. I find myself fantasizing and creating new memories around the ones that remain there, as if i’m a director of my own movie. But the only thing about fantasy, it’s just that, a fantasy, a story that you create in your head, that in most cases never come to fruition. Acknowledging my thoughts and fantasies, and what i create in my head can trigger anxiety, trigger depression. Before the quarantine, i thought i had been mentally prepared to take on whatever fear, i thought i was prepared to sit in isolation.

Though Prayer, bible reading, and writing, kept my attention, my soul longed for something else, someone else. The progress i made with past therapy sessions and retreats had all of a sudden dissipated. I became “Her” all of a sudden. I Thought i had gotten rid of her, years ago, but she is still remains with me. So, since i am having a difficult time managing my “thoughts” and living in my own a mental prison, i decided that i should try therapy again,specifically CBT ( Cognitive Behavioral Therapy). This time around, i hope to focus purely on my  “thoughts” and how they can manipulate my decision making. I so desperately want to learn how to let go of the past memories and make better one’s. I want to learn in depth how to control my way thinking. I want the undivided individual attention of someone who will  listen and remain judgement free. According to the conversation, an online article, “Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is one of the most scientifically reported treatments for anxiety disorders, But unfortunately, a recent us study indicates that in around 50% of patients, old fear memories resurface four years after CBT or drug treatment”. “Put in another way, the old fear memories seem impermeable to erasure through gold-standard therapy or drug treatment”. I wish to not become apart of The 50%. look forward to going back to work the week after next. I look forward to having a daily routine again. (can also trigger my anxiety)

When i return to work to see those adorable little faces, maybe the memories will decrease, maybe they won’t, but in any case…….I think i need therapy.

 

 

Featured Photo: Madamenoire.com

Newall, Carol, and Rick Richardson. “You Can’t ‘Erase’ Bad Memories, but You Can Learn Ways to Cope with Them.” The Conversation, 2 Mar. 2020, theconversation.com/you-cant-erase-bad-memories-but-you-can-learn-ways-to-cope-with-them-103161.

MacDonald, Fiona. “Scientists Already Know How to ‘Erase’ Your Painful Memories… And Add New Ones.” ScienceAlert, Fiona Macdonald, 15 Feb. 2016, http://www.sciencealert.com/scientists-have-figured-out-how-to-to-erase-your-painful-memories.

COVID-19 And Mental Health

Finding out that my employer was closing all preschool programs for two weeks surprised me. Not only was this paid time off, but I would Finally get a chance to relax, catch up on my blog, clean, organize, and sleep! It was Going to be a two-week mini vacation, right? Wrong!!

I do not watch the news(it’s depressing) I guess you can say I depend on social media to tell me what is going on in the world. Not only that, I admit that I do love the Shade room and all the juicy gossip that comes from their blog page I consider “Juicy news mixed with informative news. I first heard about the virus back at the end of last December. My co-worker asked me had I heard about this new virus called the “corona virus”. I thought to myself “Corona”? a virus from beer”? My co worker had explained how it started in china and how many people were becoming deathly ill. On my lunch I looked up information on the virus the corona virus and what I read was shocking. People that were traveling had to have their temperature taken multiple times at the airport, any signs of illness would be handled immediately, and almost every person I saw in a picture had a medical face mask. What the hell was going on, was this the regular flu? Well not exactly. In the coming days I started to hear more and more about the virus on social media. The comments warped me in, and I started to get different information on social mecia from people that were posting and commenting. I wondered if it would travel to the united states, were we next?

By January there were cases of COVID-19 not only in china, but in other parts of the world eventually reaching the united states. I am an early childhood educator, working on the floor with children, so our protocols on health and safety became a little stricter, Hand washing became even more frequent, sanitizing surfaces and toys were also implemented daily. My co teachers and I talked to parents about proper hand washing, what to do when their child becomes ill, what to do when they become ill, and we gave each parent a handout explaining what the virus is and what to look for. At this point things were still pretty normal for me. I would go to work, walk my dog, go to the store, pick up essentials like toilet paper and soap without having to worry about if it were there. Life for me had not changed, life for the people around me had not changed, my routine was much like…. a routine, until it was not.

As the virus had reached the united states, specifically California, I started to freak out a little. How would the virus effect my work? How would the virus impact my families that I serve? How would it impact the state as a whole? Is this virus that deadly? In the middle of march, I decided to take a few days off for my anniversary. Two days before I was set to go on my vacation my coworker had expressed that she was frustrated because she went on her routine store trip for her family and she revealed that  tissue, hand sanitizer, bleach, Lysol, and paper towels were flying off the shelves. I thought to myself what does tissue have to do with becoming sick? I mean, you can only wipe your nose so much before it starts to become raw. I had to look this up, as a ,matter of fact I have to see this for myself, so after my shift I made my way to The local CVS pharmacy because I didn’t feel like going into a big grocery store. When I walked down the tissue isle, I saw a lot of toilet paper, and cleaning supplies. I thought to myself “what was she talking about? It is a plethora of ass paper and other household supplies”. I bought what I needed to get, and I went on my way. Thursday When my vacation day started, I saw many posts on social media about how toilet paper was becoming a hot commodity and how people were in a panic,”Mass Hysteria” was what one article called it. I thought to myself again “why are these people buying up all this ass paper like this”? I went on with my day and put this news in the back of my mind. Boom, Friday comes around. On this day I am playing my R&B, cleaning, folding clothes, and looking up fun activities to implement for my kiddos, I actually looked forward to going back to work that Monday, I was pumped! By the Friday evening I received a text from my supervisor stating that our center would be closing for two weeks due to COVID-19 virus making its way so close to home. By this time there were a few cases reported in our area. Not only was our center closing, but other centers, and school districts in the local counties were closing as well. “shit” I thought “this is serious”. It made it even more real when I checked my work email and the CEO of the organization confirmed closures of all childcare centers. Panic started to set in for me on that day. During the weekend I started to see why all the ass paper and household cleaning products were disappearing, people were getting ready for something big, something that we never thought would happen, a state lock down.

 

The first couple of days were the Bomb! I took so many great naps, ate good snacks, (oh the yummy snacks) cleaned things that I had planned on cleaning before but put it off, organized my sneakers and clothes, took online training’s for work, I even had time to read books on my kindle that were sitting there waiting to be read. As I finished the tasks on my “Get it Done” list I found myself becoming anxious, more anxious than usual. I already suffer from severe depression and Anxiety. My daily Routine, work, and my kiddos made me busy, so busy that the anxiety took a backseat and never interrupted my driving. My anxiety started to peak when it was announced that the state of California was on a quarantine. A quarantine? Wait, so now I see why the ass paper was flying off the shelf, we were to become confined to our homes for the coming weeks maybe longer. No more get together’s, parties, and mall trips. I thought to myself it should not be too bad, I am off for another week, and by the time I go back everything will have gone back to normal, i will be able to go out and socialize,Wrong again!

This quarantine  no longer felt like a vacation, for me, it was the start of loneliness and extreme anxiety. First, it was No public gatherings with 50 people or more, then it went down to 20, Then 10, then to no physical contact, then basically to the powers that be stating “Stay your ass at home period”. There was no shopping, movie trips, or going out to eat. I am not built like this; I cannot possibly stay inside and do nothing for the next week. To keep my anxiety levels down I did things that would occupy my time, I worked on developmental assessments for work, I finally got to read “Make room” by my favorite gospel artist Jonathan Reynolds. Netflix was a huge source of my entertainment; Tidal music was another. My coworkers and I started to do group text daily to check in with one another, and of course good old Social media. But eventually Netflix no longer stimulated me, i found myself talking to my small dog rocky, I had gotten so bored that I would run out of things to do and my thoughts would start to race, Would I get the virus? Are my families okay? Are my coworkers okay? Is this it? Was Jesus coming to save his people? Was this the end of the world? It certainly felt like it.

I never thought I would see the day where I was excited to get dressed to make a trip to go to the grocery store. I would start to get anxious in the grocery store because i had never seen shelves so empty, it looked like something from the film “Bird Box” or a cliche zombie movie.  I had to stop at many different stores daily to find toilet paper. Getting out and  taking those “essential” trips eased my anxiety a bit, because i wasn’t on house arrests, but at the same time i became frustrated. I missed my boring, routine having consistent scheduled life. Yes, I am an introvert but when you do not have the option to go and come when you want, it gets pretty intense being indoors. This was my life now; this was all of our lives. As days passed certain things started to trigger my anxiety, things like:

  • The news
  • Seeing every human with masks on
  • Uncertain of what will happen
  • Would I or any of my family catch the virus
  • Would I lose my job?
  • Would the economy crash?
  • Will I find ass paper?
  • People coughing or sneezing around me
  • Zombie Apocalypse?

My employer posted mental health resources for staff and families. I haven’t called the hotline yet, but the way i have been feeling i will be calling soon. I didn’t realize how much COVID-19 affected a persons mental health until it effected me, a person who already deals with depression and an anxiety disorder. An online article for the health reform website stated that A broad body of research links social isolation and loneliness to poor mental health; and recent data shows that significantly higher shares of people who were sheltering in place (47%) reported negative mental health effects resulting from worry or stress related to coronavirus than among those not sheltering in place (37%). Negative mental health effects due to social isolation may be particularly pronounced among older adults and households with adolescents, as these groups are already at risk for depression or suicidal ideation. Research shows that job loss is associated with increased depression, anxiety, distress, and low self-esteem and may lead to higher rates of substance use disorder and suicide. Recent polling data shows that more than half of the people who lost income or employment reported negative mental health impacts from worry or stress over coronavirus, and lower income people report higher rates of major negative mental health impacts compared to higher income people.

 

This Virus not only poisons the body, but as you can see from the statistics it poisons the mind. COVID-19 has changed my life, it has changed all of our lives, but most importantly it has changed the way I look at medicine and our brave health care professionals. I am just a teacher who is at home, comfortable, no exposure, with food, ass paper and technological entertainment. If I am experiencing severe anxiety and depression, I can only imagine what police officers, doctors, nurses, grocery store clerks, mail workers, and amazon workers feel like. As California continues to flattens the curve, it personally gives me hope that I will be able to serve my families again, I will be able to step outside without a mask, and gloves. I will be able to breathe the air freely, hug my kiddos, hug my coworkers, shake hands, connect with people by having close contact, But I also know it may never get back to “normal”.  As of today, our childcare centers including mine remain closed (except for 9 centers who provide emergency care for essential workers) we are set to return on July 1stth, 2020. I look forward to that glorious day, but I am also mindful that the May 15th date can be pushed back again based on if we as a community are doing what needs to be done to keep all of us safe, which is STAYING HOME!!! I guess we will see within the coming weeks. God Bless You All and Let us Keep Up the good work!

If you have feelings of Anxiety or depression please call these support hotlines Below:

NAMI HelpLine | NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness

Monday-Friday, 10am–6pm ET. 1-800-950-NAMI (6264)

LifeLine Crisis Chat: 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or go to suicidepreventionlifeline.org/chat/

If it is a life-threatening emergency, dial 9-1-1.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – For youth and adults
(800) 273-TALK (8255) 1(800)799-4889 (options for deaf and hard of hearing)

Veteran’s Crisis Line
(800) 273-8255

Youth Line
1(877) 968-8491
Text TEEN2TEEN to 839863

National Institute on Drug Abuse Hotline
1(800) 662-4357

 

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

National Domestic Violence Hotline
1(800) 799-7233

Rape, Sexual Assault, Abuse, and incest (RAINN)

1(800) 656-HOPE

 

Have you experienced any mental health during this pandemic?

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Cite: Panchal, N., Kamal, R., Orgera, K., @cynthiaccox, C. C. F., Garfield, R., Hamel, L., … Chidambaram, P. (2020, April 21). The Implications of COVID-19 for Mental Health and Substance Use. Retrieved from https://www.kff.org/health-reform/issue-brief/the-implications-of-covid-19-for-mental-health-and-substance-use/     

Featured Photo: http://www.sactownmag.com/Blog/2020/coronavirus-mental-health-Q&A-2020/

The Rachel’s Vineyard Retreat

After Christine contacted me over the phone about the weekend retreat i was apprehensive. I had never gone far away from home other than my first trip to New York city. I was going to a place that i never been. Spending a weekend with other individuals i didn’t know frightened me, Not only that, But the retreat was based on the catholic religion, i grew up in a christian household. I knew of some differences between both religions, but i also knew that God and the son was apart of both. I asked myself, is this okay? can i intertwine Christianity and Catholicism? Does this make me both catholic and christian? Is that even possible? I prayed and, god let me know that it didn’t matter, as long as i came to him, served him, i would receive my healing either way, as long as i put him first.

Rachel’s Vineyard was a  three-day retreat program, open to mothers, fathers, grandparents and siblings of aborted children as well as those who have worked in the abortion industry. That weekend helped retreatants begin healing from their loss through group sharing, a memorial service and Mass.

I feared that the people who were there to help me heal would try to convert me to Catholicism (my anxiety). I thought that these two religions couldn’t mingle.  Feeling afraid and not knowing  what to expect i asked My new love interest to join me. I expected a  “no” but it was the total opposite. He supported and wanted to join me with no questions asked. Weeks before the retreat Christine and i would email back and fourth whenever i needed support and i would call her when i had a bad day thinking about my abortion. She was so kind, understanding, and she never judged. she always reminded me that god loves me so much. It was a breath of fresh air. Days before the retreat i was nervous. I didn’t know what to expect or what horror stories that i would hear, i didn’t know if i would break down in tears while i shared my story. Was this retreat really going to help me heal from my abortion? was this some type of cult? was i going to a safe place? Was it wrong from me to seek healing from the catholic religion and not my own?  My thoughts were racing and my anxiety started to get the best of me. He stayed in my corner reassuring me that everything would be fine because he would be there. We drove an hour and a half to our destination and may i just say my anxiety was getting the better of me, then again my wonderful love interest  offered  words of encouragement and brought me back down from my nervousness. When we arrived, we pulled up to what seemed to be a church.

I wanted to jump back in the car and turn around to head home, but there was no turning back, i knew i needed to do it. I thought to myself “were going to sleep here”? i was expecting a spa, nature type of environment, i began to tense up, at least him and i would be able to share a room right?  Christine met us outside and gave us details on what the weekend would be like. Her presence gave me a sense of calm, her tone of voice made me feel safe. There were two other couples there along with a few single women. Christine gave us a tour and showed us where we would be staying.  When i walked into my room there was a beautiful scarf that had been handmade just for me,

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My note from my Rachel Vineyard Staff

a letter on top of it with a beautiful flower. There was also a pen and pad to write down thoughts or any inspirational thoughts that might have come to mind.  Justin and i also learned that we had to sleep in separate rooms, we should have saw that coming, but we made it work.  An half hour later we were called into a small room. We wasted no time going into introductions and explaining why we were there. There was also living scriptures. We all sat around in a circle with Christine and 3 other staff  who helped her to coordinate the retreat. Christine then asked each one of us to share why we were there and what we hope we will get out of the weekend. The stories i heard made me tear up. Many abortions and miscarriages, so much loss. When it was my turn i looked at him, he gave me a look,  a look letting me know “i’m here”. I started to tell my story and couldn’t get it out before i burst into tears, thoughts of the clinic, the operating room, The pain all came back. He held me and whispered to me “i’m here baby i’m not going anywhere let it out”. At this point everyone who had shared their experience cried with me. I will never forget that feeling.  Christine thanked Justin for supporting me through everything. I was thankful that god had brought me a man that i could be vulnerable with, a man that could see all my scars and love me for them. We all stood after stories were shared, Christine and the father of the church led us in prayer. I had the biggest headache from crying and snot continually dripped from my face into my soggy napkin.  After the session was over we had dinner in the dining room. He and i talked to young married couple about their experience. Tom and Chen (not their real names) had suffered from miscarriages after Chen had  an abortion.  They told us that they were planning on getting pregnant soon but wanted to come the retreat to heal the loss of their other pregnancies. They were a really nice couple and we all had many things in common. After dinner we all headed to our separate rooms. I hugged him and thanked him again for coming with me, even though he had nothing to do with my abortion experience.

 

I had a hard time sleeping that first night. I was in a new place and even though it was a holy place, it was also terrifying. I didn’t know what to expect, were they a cult? were they planning something sinister? My anxiety was at an all time high and i stayed at alert just in case there were plans of any ill will(pure paranoia) The Next morning came and i had slept horribly. Breakfast was served in the small dining hall on the first floor. He and had communicated the previous night about how they would wake everyone up for morning breakfast and activities, also thanked him again for coming on this journey with me. My new love and i sat at a table with Tom and Chen.  They smiled as we walked towards them to sit and talked about what we thought the day was going to be like.  I finally felt like i wasn’t alone, i finally felt like god set this up for a reason.

The day was filled with testimonies and prayer groups. They split us up into small groups and we would meet in different parts of the church. One of the exercises that broke me down was The Role Play. One of the councilors would pretend that they were one of the people who might have contributed to our experiences, they were also there to just let us vent. As everyone participated in the exercise i stared to sink into my chair. There were no limits, there were no guidelines, we were freely able to express any and every emotion that we felt or were feeling in that moment. I saw anger, pain, hopelessness, all the things that i had experienced. I saw tears, i heard cries, i heard yells, and no matter what the counselor she still managed to conduct this exercise in a respectful and supportive way. Once the last person finished, i started to feel hot all over, my heart was beating at an alarming rate and i felt my palms starting to sweat, my palms never sweat, but instill i knew this is what i came here for, this was apart of the healing. She called me and asked me to sit in the chair facing her. “Who am i today”? “Express how you feel, don’t hold back, i will be playing a role”. I looked down nervously and started to rub my hands together, “You are my ex” i replied quietly, “Okay”, “what did he call you”? she asked “he called me C.C”. “Okay, What do you want me to know”? “I want you to know that these last few months have been hell for me, i’m angry with you because you were supposed to take care of me, you were supposed to take responsibility, you lied, you broke my spirit, we were supposed to do this together.” “What did you want me to do”? She replied “I wanted you to protect me, i wanted you to honor your word, i wanted you there with me at the clinic, i wanted you there for the recovery process, i wanted you there”! I started to feel a burst of anger, i started to feel my knees shake, then there it went, the tears started to draw up. “Well” she replied, “What do you want me to do about it now cc”. I stared at her for a moment, and in that quick moment, she sounded just like him, that was something that he would say. My face was wet, and my heartbeat slowed down, “i want you to say your sorry, that’s all i want to hear”. She stared at me and she leaned over and said “i’m sorry, i’m sorry you went through that, and i’m sorry for letting you do it alone, i’m sorry”. I broke down, she held my hand and she rubbed my back, it was a comforting feeling, i cried the hardest I’ve ever cried in my life, it felt like a the dark heavy weight that i had been carrying had suddenly been lifted. The anger, the resentment, that hate, it all dissipated. On that day i believe the lord had laid his hands on me, his spirit moved through me, i felt at peace, but i found myself drained by the end of the exercise. Towards the end of the day the whole group met back up in one room and discussed what they learned about themselves. Everyone went around and shared their experience, even Justin. Even though he didn’t experience loss at that magnitude, he talked about different kind of loses he had experienced within his family and friends. I knew on that day, at that moment, that he would be my biggest supporter.

 

   Conclusion in Pt. 6

Pic Credit: https://mfsdiocese.ca/ministry/healing-reconciliation/rachels-vineyard/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mental Health Awareness

I have experienced being in a very dark place. At times i still manage to go there. I lost hope, i lost, confidence, and i felt like i lost my mind. Growing up there were no therapy sessions, or someone to check in on you just to ask if you were okay, you were considered weak if you cried or if you couldn’t handle life’s problems. I took my depression as something that wasn’t normal, i wasn’t supposed to feel a heightened sense of dread, worry, pure and utter sadness. I didn’t know at the time why i had those feelings and how i could climb out of the dark ongoing realm that was my life. The feelings i had were so intense, and so powerful, that i contemplated leaving his earth. I thought “I can’t see a therapist people, friends would think I’m weak, they will think I’m crazy. It had gotten so bad that my body was here on earth but my soul had left, my soul changed. I never could comprehend why so many other people in this world  were depressed, how could something like depression intervene with everyday life, Could it really stop time? Could it really stop you from living a normal healthy life? Could it effect the way you think? Hell Yes! That definitely was the case for me. FB_IMG_1539369015587The picture you see below was taken on a pretty bad day. I was highly anxious, just had taken my anxiety and depression medication, it was a bad day. I still managed to pit on my poker face.I figured that i could capture myself in that moment, so if one day when i conquered this i would remember what i felt in that moment. This picture was taken in 2008. I still remember the day, what i ate, what i did, how i felt. I forced a smile to let outsiders know things were perfect.

See, i was good at putting on a facade and portraying perfection, i did it quite well for awhile until i couldn’t any more. It started to show within my character, and sad enough, my big brown eyes. Loved ones knew something in me had shifted, my shift was infinite. I looked in the mirror and i couldn’t recognize this who i had become. I was full of life before, i shined when the sun didn’t, i was bubbly, i was outgoing and loved to joke and laugh. I finally realized i needed help and started treatment. My spirit reached a breakthrough with the help of god, Prozac, prayer, writing, and persistence. I’m saying this to say if you are ever in a place where you want to harm yourself, if you get to a place where you feel sad, worry, and severe anxiety, talk to someone, get help, this does not mean you are weak, You are not alone.

There is a stigma in the African american community surrounding mental health. Having a mental disorder symbolizes weakness. According to NAMI (national alliance of mental illness) “Although anyone can develop a mental health problem, African Americans sometimes experience more severe forms of mental health conditions due to unmet needs and other barriers. According to the Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health, African Americans are 20% more likely to experience serious mental health problems than the general population. Common mental health disorders among African Americans include:

  • Major Depression
  • ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder)
  • Suicide
  • Post Traumatic stress Disorder

“African Americans are also more likely to experience certain factors that increase the risk for developing a mental health condition:

NM-Mental-Health-Community-Workshop

  • Homelessness. People experiencing homelessness are at a greater risk of developing a mental health condition. African Americans make up 40% of the homeless population.
  • Exposure to violence increases the risk of developing a mental health condition such as depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder. African American children are more likely to be exposed to violence than other children.In the African American community, many people misunderstand what a mental health condition is and don’t talk about this topic. This lack of knowledge leads many to believe that a mental health condition is a personal weakness or some sort of punishment from God. African Americans may be reluctant to discuss mental health issues and seek treatment because of the shame and stigma associated with such conditions.”Many African Americans also have trouble recognizing the signs and symptoms of mental health conditions, leading to underestimating the effects and impact of mental health conditions. Some may think of depression as “the blues” or something to snap out of. This is not something you can just ignore and sweep under the rug. If you notice that a loved one is not themselves and you notice a shift, step in, be there, listen, it could be a matter of life or death.

If you feel down and need extra support please call  (1800)-662-HELP (4357 you really don’t have to experience pain and fear by yourself. I made it through my storm, at times it can be challenging, but I’ve gained the tools and knowledge to manage my major depressive disorder by attending cognitive therapy, attending support groups, and starting a blog. Don’t let life stop when that light goes out, find another source of light and let it carry you to utter happiness.

 

Pic Credit: https://nmblackhistorymonth.com/event/mental-health-and-the-black-community/

Featured Image: https://www.mentalhealthfirstaid.org/

                                                                                                       

 

 

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A letter To Isaiah

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Dear Love,

Please don’t be upset with me, i did it for me and daddy. I know it sounds so selfish but i was scared, alone, and had no support. I think about you all the time, i always wonder what you would have looked like? would you have looked like me? would you have looked like your father? would you have those big beautiful brown eyes? or chocolate dark skin like me and daddy. Most nights i dream of you, you come in my dreams in all white, you touch my face with your tiny hand as i am down on my knees, you look at me in my eyes and say “mommy, i’m okay, god is watching me until you get here”, i cry when you walk away and take tiny steps into the white light, i want to hold you, i want to feel you. I’m sorry you had to feel the pain of being ripped apart, it was painful for mommy too, i thought about your tiny brain crushed, you little legs broken, your heart disconnected. I’m sorry i couldn’t protect you, i’m sorry that i didn’t listen to my first mind telling me to keep you.

I loved you from the moment i heard of your presence, but mommy wasn’t ready and daddy was just as lost as i was. I know you heard me crying at night, did you hear me? did you feel me rubbing you? telling you i love you? I can imagine your laugh if i tickled you all over. i can hear your cries from a fall, i can hear a coo and see your bare smile when i make funny faces. I can hear your cries, i can smell you. Can you forgive me? can you forgive me for ending a precious life before it begun? You would have been 10 years old by now, now that i think about it i could have made it work, you coming into this world wasn’t a curse or a burden, but a beautiful intricate gift from god. Mommy got help from your loss, i tried so hard to forget you but you remained in my mind, in my heart. No amount of medication or therapy would keep me from you, it didn’t matter what i did, you were always on my mind, In the morning when i would wake, until the evening when i would close my eyes. At night i pray that when i leave this world i can go straight to heaven to see you,  if you see me in heaven will you recognize me?  Mommy has healed and it took a lot of work on my end to come to terms with aborting you. Now all i can do is hope and pray that i will be blessed with another intricate gift from god, your brother or sister. Even though i never had the chance to meet you i love you like i would if you were here.

 

                           ♥♥♥ Thinking of you daily, love always

                                                                                                                         – Your Mommy

The Healing

At this point in my life i focused on getting mentally better and becoming spiritually  stronger. I was anxious about Rachel’s vineyard but i knew that it was what i needed to heal. God and i had plenty of conversations throughout the day and night. My faith was stronger than it had ever been. Being in a relationship was the furthest thing from my mind, i really just wanted to be alone, i wanted to figure out what kind of woman i was going to become after the storm dissipated.

I still attended therapy once a week and took my Ativan as prescribed. Ativan made me sleep most times so i would usually take them at night to help me with my insomnia and anxiety. I was was still unsure of the Prozac, i knew i needed to take it. My relationship with God was becoming stronger, but the feeling of hopelessness and dread still remained.  I knew that if i started to take the medication or at least try it, i would become the person i was before my abortion. I knew God had was the only healer i needed, but i realized that physically i needed some relief, My brain was experiencing a chemical imbalance. I started taking the Prozac daily and i noticed a change in my mood,  i started to feel normal again, i figured the Prozac was starting and already had taken its course, working through my bloodstream and making its way to my unbalanced brain.

My mom and i were transitioning to move. I was excited to get away from the place where i had experienced my depression and trauma. After we moved into our new place, i finally felt like things were getting better for me. Dre would pop into my mind on occasion, but when the thoughts of us entered my mind i would do something to distract me.  I figured if he really loved me and wanted me, he would make an effort to do so, but he never did. My aunt invited me to take a trip to New York city. My anxiety screamed “no”!, but my gut told me to go for it. I had never been out of northern California, EVER! i had never been on a plane, Shocking right? This was the time for me to take chances and experience things i never experienced. This was my redemption. In 2009 at the beginning of summer i took my first trip to New York. I enjoyed the trip, it was fun aside from the rude new York people. I was content, i had no panic attacks, no depression, i was actually able to enjoy my surroundings and the company of my aunt and her best friend. Before my new York trip i started talking to a guy on Myspace, yes! i typed right, Myspace!. He seemed really nice so i thought what would be the harm in just talking and getting to know one another. We exchanged numbers and we started to talk daily. We even talked while i was discovering new York. This guy was different, he wasn’t what i was used to at all, i knew he wasn’t Andre. He listened and he was consistent. I really liked him. I knew that i had to have “the talk” with him when i returned from new York but that that moment i enjoyed Manhattan and Harlem. I saw so many people, i saw so many beautiful things my senses were occupied with something other than nervousness and fear. I had so many thoughts running through my head about this new guy, Would he think that i’m weak? would he think that i’m crazy? is he going to accept my skeletons if we get serious? Would he hurt me the way my ex hurt me?

When i returned to California i came back a new person. I looked at life differently. Even though i was only in new York for a week i felt liberated. I was confident and the anxiety and depression not once visited.  The day that i returned home i agreed to meet this new guy in person. We decided to meet at a train station. He rode the train home with me. He was, sweet caring, attentive, and very patient. We talked the whole train ride. It was something about him that put me at ease, i was able to be my new self around him. We continued to talk after our first encounter.  We went on dates but i knew that i had to tell him my truth before we went any further.

I was nervous and thought the worst before i told him, but if we were going to get serious he needed to know my truth. One night while we had one of our intellectual conversations i told him. His reaction surprised me. He didn’t judge, he did not criticize, he just listened. From there we went on romantic dates, he would bring me flowers, we would talk and laugh and enjoy each others company. I knew he was the one because he watched one of my favorite romantic movies “The notebook”, i don’t think any other guy would have tolerated a movie of that nature. As weeks went by we grew close, we were connected at the hip, wherever he was, i was. He had turned into my best friend. As i continued to heal and overcome my depression. Christine and i still continued to communicate and she was a huge supporter and available whenever i needed to talk. I liked our talks because she would revert some of my concerns and cite bible verses. She would tell me “God has forgiven you, he loves you, as long as you believe in him and ask him for forgiveness from your heart, you will be forgiven”. See, that is what i admired about her, She didn’t judge or patronize me, she reminded me of Gods grace and she reminded me that God loves unconditionally. On a day that i needed support and called her she let me know that there would be a post abortion retreat 40 minutes away from where i lived. She gave me details about the retreat and what things were going to take place for my healing, i agreed.thumbnail (8) She explained what the retreat was and what the retreat entailed. I knew it would be beneficial if i attended especially since i knew god was added to the equation for my healing. Before the weekend retreat Christine sent me resources, and a packet on what i would need to know about the retreat. One thing that really stood out in the packet was a letter regarding the a  letter explaining the memorial service that will be held on the last day of the retreat.  I already was having doubts. I never expected a memorial service for my unborn child. It was fitting considering the circumstances. I realized i was given an opportunity to say a proper goodbye to my child. Excited and anxious, i had to think about how i wanted to ask my new guy to join me.  Would this be the ice breaker? is it going to be too much to ask of him so early? Well his response surprised me…………

 

Continued in Part. 5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Aftermath

After visiting my aunt i was able to reset. Things that i implemented in my daily routine were starting  to pay off. I started to feel less anxious and more normal, even happier. My mood changed from hopeless to hopeful. I started to live again. My mind was so much more clearer. I read self help books, books on mindfulness and meditation. I felt healthy and fit practicing yoga and Thai chi. I lost more weight, I started watching what I was consuming as far as food. I went to the gym everyday to help me free my mind of anxieties. Meditation was part of my daily routine. I still went in once a week for my counseling sessions but I still felt like there was something that I was missing.

When I had taken up the offer to stay at my aunt’s house for the weekend  I was able to breathe. I felt at ease with my surroundings. There were no racing thoughts, no worries, no hopelessness. My aunt lived in a beautiful home in the hottest city of the North bay. I would go into her backyard in the early mornings, look at the yard filled with grass, i would sit on the canopy and a swing. I would focus on my breathing. I paid attention to the sky, the way the air smelled, the way the sun hit my face. It was like I was with god himself.  I was at peace, i took advantage of the smells, the wind, the sun. I paid attention to how the cement felt under my feet.

My aunt and I talked I opened up in more detail about my ex and the abortion.  One day I had her house to myself and I was surfing the web. I decided to look up support after an abortion. The clinic had resources for after abortion but at that time I didn’t think I needed counseling. I got a few numbers and was interested in a retreat strictly built for women who had abortions. Was I ready to open that womb again? It was so nicely stitched shut, i knew I had to remove the stitches, that I had to open the womb for it to heal. I left my aunts that weekend feeling a sense of relief and calm, I finally felt that there was hope.

Once I settled back in at home I decided to call the hotline, I was so nervous and scared I didn’t know what expect. I called and i was connected with the sweetest the sweetest woman. Her voice was calm and she was very attentive. She asked me questions about my abortion and if it had any effects on my life. I told her I’m not sure but I had been recently diagnosed with severe depression and anxiety. She explained that lots of women experience depression and anxiety after an abortion. I felt relieved that I wasn’t the only woman who has experienced depression and anxiety after a traumatic experience such as an abortion. She gave me a number and a website to visit so I could do more research on what this was that I was experiencing. I looked up the website for “Rachel’s vineyard”. I was immediately intrigued. “Rachel’s vineyard a place to go to heal after an abortion”. I thought to myself “wow, this type of place exists”? The other detail that caught my attention was the description of what Rachel’s vineyard was. It was a place of healing, a place where there would be no judgement, a place for all of God’s children to come and ask for forgiveness. I needed to call.

Was this a legit place? Was it some kind of secret cult? Was it a pro life organization that were going to condem me and tell me that i was going to go to hell? I prayed before I called and hoped that I would get the answers I looked for. Christine a woman who had been through a similar experience was assigned to me.  Christine  was sent from God to help me heal. She explained to me that what I did at the time didn’t define God’s love for me. She didn’t judge, and she didn’t quote scriptures, she listened to my testimony. Christine answered all my questions and she even went out of her way to mail me a packet with more info on the retreat and other after abortion resources. Before we ended the call she asked “Cecilie do you mind praying with me”? I don’t know what came over me but I started to weep. I knew what I had done was wrong considering my strict Christian background. Not only did i sin by having sex that didn’t take place within marriage, but I had killed a human life that God put there himself. I just knew God was punishing me for killing my baby. Christine prayed with me and at that moment I realized God loved me, he loved me so much, he knew what would take place, he knew the obstacles that i would have to face, anything to get me closer to him, he planned already. God wasn’t punishing me, he was preparing me for abundant blessings that were coming my way. Rachel’s vineyard would be the place where I found healing, and unconditional love.

 

Pic Credit: blackleaderanalysis.com

Continued in Part. 4

The Battle

After the procedure I purposely looked down to see if I could see remains of my baby, I saw nothing. I know it sounds disturbing but i needed to know that it was done. The nurse helped me to my bed in a recovery room where the other girls were. Some girls laid in their recovery beds crying and some vomiting  from the anesthesia, probably from the whole experience. I felt like a part of me left when my baby was taken, but i had programmed my brain to think that this was for the best and how i would have relief from not being pregnant anymore would, i though that would sustain me.  I laid for 30 minutes in the recovery hospital bed. A nurse gave me the green light to get dressed and go home, I was prescribed pain medication. My mother came to pick me up and from the clinic. My best friend waited at the train station, my mom picked her up on the way home. I looked to see if there were any missed calls from him, nothing. Once I got home I quickly took a shower, changed into comfy clothes,  and took my pain medication. Jamie and i sat in my room watching television and eating popeye’s chicken. Furious I called him and on the first answer he sounded irritated by me calling i asked “where were you”? In tears I asked, he replied “man, I will get there when I get there”, and he hung up on me. The feeling that I had after the phone call was a feeling I had never experienced in my life. My heart broke was broken. I felt alone,and  stupid. If my best friend did not come that weekend I don’t know what I would have done. My ex stopped calling after that day. I was devastated.  How could he leave me after this traumatic event? What did I do wrong? Why would he do this to me? My spirit was crushed.

 I convuninced myself  the abortion was the right thing to do and that I should feel relieved that I didn’t have to carry that burden of potentiality raising a child alone. I didn’t feel relief at all, I was overcome with enormous guilt. Amy Winehouse  “back to black” album was the soundtrack of my life at that time. I tried my best to move on without my ex, but i was a mess. I tried to push him and  the abortion out of my mind. My best friend Jamie helped me, she was the rock I leaned on for support.

Putting the abortion behind me, i tried to live my life as normal as possible. I worked with children so it was hard to look at them and not think of what I had done. I would became sad, my appetite was non existent, and i lost 30 lbs, i thought that’s a good thing at least i didn’t turn to food, drugs, or promiscuous sex that could have affected me mentally and physically.

It was a surprise when my best friend Jamie let me know that my ex was looking for me just 3 months after my abortion. Jamie dated his friend at the time and she always mentioned that my ex would ask about me. When she asked my permission for her to give him my number I was nervous but mostly mad, he had big balls to ask about me after all these months.  Nonchalantly i gave her permission, i told her “Sure, give him my number I have a bone to pick with this ass”. He called me later that night. Hearing his voice again made me smile, i missed our times together, i missed having fun and talking to him, but in the back of my mind, i thought of how he left me all alone to grieve alone. When we talked for the first time in months he claimed he wanted to come see me and that he wanted to apologize for the way things went down between us. I agreed to meet him outside of my apartment building. In the cold of the night, he came. When he first walked up I felt a blood rush of emotion, anger, love, and nervousness. “you look good cc”. He said smiling like nothing ever happened, “thanks” I replied, that was  the only reply that I could mustered up. He spent a half an hour apologizing and the other half hour trying to get into my apartment. “Typical male” is what I thought to myself. He did not get into my pants that night, but he got into something much worse, my heart.

We tried the relationship again. I fell even harder for him. Things were great until a female started to call my phone frequently saying that  my was sleeping with her too. I asked him about it and he denied it.

I spent the night at his house on one ocassion. It was my first time meeting his mother. It seemed things were looking up for our relationship. The next morning the same girl who was stalking me and calling me daily(and late at night) was at his door, she came to fight, she came to draw blood. Till this day I don’t even know if she knew I was there but I was too busy thinking of a way to escape the apartment he lived in. My ex physically fought this girl and her brothers, defending himself from them jumping him. I was looking for a way out to run, I didn’t know what she was capable of.  I didn’t do this, this wasn’t me to fight, let alone over a guy. I was scared, I didn’t know what this girl would do once she found out I was there, i was ready to defend myself if it came down to it. My ex came back into the house five minutes later with bloody knuckles and scratches on his face, I then asked him to take me home. After that I thought things couldn’t get any worse but sure enough it did. A few days after the debacle he and I were on the phone talking like we would regularly do. He sounded weird, he said “cc I have something to tell you, I got my ex pregnant”Coldness ran through me, “she is keeping the baby, so I have a kid on the way”. My world stopped, my heartbeat raced. “I’m so sorry cc I fucked up, i know i lied and said i didn’t know her but I have to take care of my responsibilities”. “Are you kidding me? i screamed “So, you got this same girl who has been calling and harassing me, and who beat you up pregnant? And you’re saying you have a responsibility”? I was livid! i thought he loved me, i thought we were moving in the right direction. Yet again he treated me as if I were a random girl. I feilt so stupid and betrayed. I thought about my child. What made this girl so special that she got to keep hers with his full support.

I couldn’t bear talking to him, the thought of what he just confessed  made me sick. I hung up and cut off all contact with him once more, that was it for me, i didn’t deserve this. I didn’t’ want to be a part of the drama, my heart could only take so much from him at this point.

Moving on was hard. I thought I loved my ex but I couldn’t be with him. He showed me that he couldn’t be honest, he showed me that he didn’t respect me, he showed he didn’t love me like he said. Months went by, my life went on. I started to smoke cigarettes, i had difficulty sleeping so i would take sleep aides to help me with insomnia. On Thanksgiving Day in 2008 things took a turn for the worse. One night I felt like I was dying, my heart was beating out of my chest, i thought i was having a heart attack, at my age that couldn’t be possible. I told my mom and she drove me to the emergency room. When I got there, I was sure they were going to say heart attack or stroke, it was neither, it was a panic attack. I stayed in the hospital overnight and when I was discharged a nurse gave me a paper describing what panic attacks are and what I can do to help alleviate symptoms. When I arrived home, fear swept through my body, I was scared to be left alone, I feared that I would have another panic attack. Things went down a dark tunnel from there. I was anxious all the time, I couldn’t concentrate at work or at home. I felt like I was outside of my body and that my sense of reality was distorted, was I going mad? It came to a place where my symptoms would be so intense that I thought I would lose control and go crazy. I decided to see a therapist to find out what was going on with me. The first visit to see my therapist was uneventful. I Had one hour to explain why I was having these scary panic attacks. I was hoping that she would tell me what was wrong with me. My therapist then referred me to a psychiatrist for medication. I didn’t want to take medication, I didn’t know how my body would react to them, so I declined.

 My anxiety progressed, both my psychiatrist and therapist diagnosed me with a severe depression and a anxiety condition. I was suicidal, I felt there was nothing left, the memories from him, the abortion, what he revealed, it was a feeling in me that I couldn’t explain, I couldn’t even explain it today.  I was hopeless and, sad. I no longer invested time in my friendships, I lost great friends, I became  a recluse.  I turned down invitations, i missed important events in my friends lives, i stopped calling them and would ignore calls that came from them. I was ashamed, i was embarrassed, i didn’t want them to see how weak i had become. The sweet, funny, bubbly enthusiastic cecilie that they knew had gone. I considered taking my own life, but i thought about my mother and sister. If I were to leave this earth her daughter would be no more, and she wouldn’t be the same. I also knew that it was alap a sin to take my life. The anxiety controlled ny life. I was scared to leave my house, my thoughts ran a mile a minute and I had no one to talk to about it. My mother even noticed that I was not the same. Instead of being a sinner I turned to the lord when I had suicidal thoughts, I grew up in the church, so it was time for me to develop a solid connection to God, I needed god’s forgiveness and mercy. I remember falling to my knees weeping, i started to pray “lord god whatever this is inside me heal me from it, make me stronger”. I prayed so much that getting on my knees was routine. I started reading the bible and getting into the word. I knew that if anyone else wouldn’t be there, I knew Jesus would be there. I reconsidered medication, because the anxiety was getting worse. My psychiatrist prescribed 20 milligrams of Prozac and 40 milligrams of Atarax, after. At this time, I wasn’t sure why the chemicals in my brain had changed, I never once thought that it could have been because of the abortion, i thought it was from all the stress with Dre. My therapist and I talked about the symptoms but we both didn’t know the cause.

I took the Atarax as prescribed, but it just made me so groggy, it made me numb and I didn’t like that feeling. My anxiety was at an all-time high, racing thoughts, thoughts of me going crazy, I was scared to be alone, I feared the worst. I had to do something to get relief, I went to god, I prayed my knees constantly with tears, I would cry  “god what is wrong with me? Heal me? I know I’m not perfect, but I’m tired, I don’t know if I can take this any longer”. I remember going to my mother in tears, I think she was worried and fearful to see me in that state, being this vulnerable, this sad. I asked her to pray with me, and she did. We both got on our knees and she held my hand while I wept uncontrollably, after the prayer she wiped my tears and told me that god would take care of me. From that day I started to read the bible. I was getting familiar with my with the word, and familiar with prayer. I grew up in church but sometimes people lose their way and lose sight of what god has planned for their life, so they make their own stories, and that was me. I picked up my grandmother’s bible and started at genesis. Every day I read a chapter and made a point to pray all throughout that day. I took an anxiety class at my local clinic. I started to read up on mindfulness and how to use certain tools for the anxiety, I even took a yoga class on Saturdays, yoga was now apart of my daily routine. I never would have thought that I would be meditating, taking yoga, and reading the bible faithfully, me?  but this was my life, this is what I needed to recover, not just to recover but I needed the Lord’s forgiveness and guidence. My mother wanted to know more about anxiety and why it affected me the way it did so she joined me in one of my counseling sessions. She asked “why is my daughter going through this? What causes this”? she asked all the necessary questions a parent would ask about their child mental health and well being. My therapist told my mother “Sometimes people go through stressful situations and trauma, the brain reacts in such a way that our anxiety heightens”.  My mother and i never made the connection of what trauma could have took place. I had a great childhood, I was loved, my father wasn’t in my life, but my mother filled that void. Me being fatherless may have affected me  but in this instance what other drama could have taken place? 

My aunt who helped raise me worried about my mental state. She had no idea that I was in a deep depression and wanted to take my life. I sat and talked to her, I let her know i wanted to leave this earth, i wanted to kill myself. Tears ran from her eyes “I had no idea, that it had gotten that bad, maybe I could have done a better job at supporting you” she replied. I knew that there was nothing that she did, or nothing she could have done. She loved me like a daughter. She wanted to see me happy. She suggested that I come visit her for a weekend, so I could get away from the environment that could have caused the trauma. I accepted. I would still think of dre often. I wondered if he ever loved me at all. I wondered if i would be able to love again. I’m glad that I went to visit that weekend, that trip would keep my mind off of dre. God knew what he was doing, my aunt’s invitation led to how i discovered the root of the anxiety and depression…………

 

Pic Credit: Hopkinsmedicine.org

Continued In Part. 3