Mental Health Awareness

Once i was in a very dark place. I lost hope, i lost, confidence, and 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 considred week or mentally ill. 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 theapist 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 everday 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. The picture you see above was taken on a pretty bad day. I was highly anxious, just had taken my anxiety and depression meds. I figured that i could capture myself in that moment, so if one day when i conquered this sickness 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 potraying perfection, i did it quite well for awhile until i couldnt any more. It started to shiw within my character, and sad enough, my 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, i shined when the sun didn’t, i was bubbly, i was innocent. I saught help and started treatment. My spirt reached a breakthrough with the help of god, prozac, prayer, writing, and persistance. 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 dread, worry, and severe anxiety, talk to someone. You are not alone.

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:

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

  • 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 themsleves 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 exprrince pain and fear by yourself. I made it through my storm, at days it can be challenging, but I’ve gained the tools and knowledge to manage my major depressive disorder. Don’t let life stop when that light goes out, find another source of light and let it carry you to utter happiness.

A letter To My Unborn

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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

My Abortion Story Pt. 3

The meds that I took daily started to take effect. 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 weight, I started watching what I was consuming as far as food and liquids. 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 took 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 am, look at the yard filled with grass, a canopy and a swing and I just breathed. 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 Andre 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, it didn’t make sense to remove the stiches, but I had to dig in there to find healing. Was this the cause of my mental downfall? I left 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. “Wow, I need to call this number”.

Was this a legit place? Was it some kind of secret cult? Was it a pro life organization that were going to 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. A woman m an and I started to talk, the woman who 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. 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 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 the everlasting and unconditional love from my almighty God.………………….

My Abortion Story Pt. 2

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 threw up from the medication and probably from the whole ordeal. I felt like a part of me left when my baby was ripped from me, but i had programmed my brain to think that this was for the best and relief would sustain me.  I laid for 30 minutes, after the nurse gave me the green light to get dressed and go home, I was prescribed pain medication. My mother was there to pick me up and from the clinic. My best friend waited at the Bart station, my mom picked her up on the way home. I looked to see if there were any missed calls from Andre, nothing. Once I got home I changed into comfy clothes and took my pain medication. I called Andre and on the first answer he sounded bothered by me calling “where were you”? i asked in tears “man, I will get there when I get there”, he hung up on me. The feeling that I had after the phone call was a feeling I had never experienced in my life. I felt alone, stupid, sad, angry, and lost, If my best friend did not come that weekend I don’t know what I would have done. Andre and i stopped talking after that, it had been months since we talked again. I convinced 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 raising a child alone. Amy Winehouse  “back to black” album was the soundtrack of my life at that time. I tried to move on with my life and I tried to push the abortion out of my mind, so I wouldn’t have to think about it. Amy helped me with that.

Months later i tried to put the abortion behind me. I worked with children so it was hard to look at them and not think of the life that was inside me. I had no appetite, 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 Andre was looking for me. 3 months after the procedure Jamie dated his friend at the time and she always mentioned that Dre would ask about me. When she asked my permission for her to give him my number I was nervous but mostly mad as hell, he had big balls to ask about me after all these months.  nonchalantly i said “Sure, give him my number I have a bone to pick with his ass”. He called me later that night, 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. When he first walked up I felt a blood rush of emotion, anger, love, sadness. “you look good cc”. “thanks” 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 pants. “Typical Dre” 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 for a month things were okay until a girl started to call my phone frequently saying that Dre was sleeping with her too. I asked him about it and of course he denied it. I spent the night at his house one night and 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 I was too busy thinking of a way to escape the apartment he lived in. Andre physically fought this girl and her brothers, I was looking for a way out to run. I didn’t do this, this wasn’t me to fight over a boy. I was scared, I didn’t know what this girl would do once she found out I was there. Andre 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 Dre and I were on the phone, he sounded weird, “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, but I have to take care of my responsibilities”. “Are you fucking kidding me? i thought So, you got this same girl who has been calling and harassing me pregnant? And you’re saying you have a responsibility”? I cried hard and thought about my child and what made this woman so special that she got to keep hers with his full support. I couldn’t bear talking to him, the thought of him made me sick so I hung up and cut off all contact with him.  I didn’t’ want to be a part of the drama, I could only take so much from Dre at this point.

Moving on was hard. I loved Dre 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. Months went by, my life went on as it should, I started to smoke cigarettes, pop sleep aides, and drink occasionally. 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 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, and the outcome was both anxiety and depression. I wanted to take my life, there was a feeling in me that I couldn’t explain, I can’t even explain it today.  I was hopeless, afraid, sad. I cut off important friendships, loss great friends, I was 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, enthusiastic cecilie that they knew had gone. I considered taking my own life, but after thinking about my mother, if I were to leave this earth her daughter would be no more, and she wouldn’t be the same. 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 coward and 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 ask for god’s forgiveness and mercy. One day I just got on 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 he diagnosed me with severe depression. 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, so I did the thing that I should have done in the beginning, I went to god, I got on my knees and the tears started to flow “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 her daughter 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, to 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. 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 it didn’t affect me in any kind of way, so what trauma took 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’m glad that I went to visit that weekend, god knew what he was doing, my aunt’s invitation led to how i discovered the root of the anxiety and depression…………