It’s been a wild ride. LOL. No, really. The pandemic has shined a light on the things I wanted to keep in the dark. I gained about 40 pounds during quarantine. Yes, you read that right. FORTY POUNDS. While most took that time to get in shape, I ate my feelings, my insecurities, my anxiety, my depression. I ate it all. DoorDash should’ve made me their ambassador. 

Fast forward to December 2020, my friend, Cherelle, told me she wanted to get her health in check and in doing so, she pushed me to join her. In January, I started going to 9Round consistently and walking with her after work. I’ve lost 11 pounds since November. Hopefully they’ll be more weight loss come June. 

During our walks, we talked about everything. I could count on her to be my sounding board, my journal, my person (shout out to Grey’s Anatomy fans). She found a therapist and was telling me how much she is helping her. My nurse practitioner resigned and the counselor I was seeing in the same office went on maternity leave in October 2019 so it had been a while since I’d seen someone or taken medication, which I knew I needed. 

Cherelle encouraged me to write my feelings, thoughts, and prayers down and I did. I started journaling and calling them “Letters to God”. So I was journaling and exercising regularly. But, was still feeling “crazy”. I’d have these boughs of depression, work caused me chronic anxiety, I’d have super highs and extreme lows… but nobody knew that but Cherelle. So, TCS ended up asking me to be a part of the SEL Leadership Team and if you know me or have been following me on Twitter for some time, you know that I’m passionate about SEL and mental health. It was right up my ally. It made work bearable. It gave me a purpose. My passion was sparked again. While walking one day, Cherelle said something to me that I needed. She said, “You can’t be around here advocating for SEL and not take care of yourself. You need to talk to a psychiatrist and soon.” Once again, my friend called me out, put me in my place, and challenged me to be about what I speak about. 

So, she was right and I knew it. I started looking for a psychiatrist, but it had to be a Black female. I was hellbent on it, yet had no luck. They either had bad reviews or weren’t licensed to prescribe medication. After a couple months, Cherelle told me to stop focusing on the gender and race. She said, “You need help now. That stuff can wait.” Sooooo, in one of the meetings I had with Tesney, she suggested a psychiatrist and I ended up calling and setting up an appointment a few weeks later. 

Last week, I met my psychiatrist (can you call a Doctor yours? Idk) and he questioned me about the information on my form: PTSD, depression, anxiety, OCD. He wanted details on each one and I provided them, mostly based on what the nurse practitioner told me back in 2018-2019. Let me also add that she retired in December 2020. I guess she didn’t think that would affect my mental stability. 🤦🏾‍♀️ I answered all his questions. I gave him backstories. I was so nervous and scared because he was detailed in his questioning and thorough with his descriptions. 

He diagnosed me with Bipolar disorder. My heart was racing for so many reasons. I had felt like this had been the case after reading Jenifer Lewis’ memoir, The Mother of Black Hollywood in 2018. I could relate to so much of her story. It was like some sort of sign. I ended up researching it but pushed it aside once I was told otherwise. He seemed upset that I hadn’t been getting the help I needed years ago, or the medication. He told me that I need therapy as well based on everything I laid out for him (rape, trichotillomania, absent father, etc). 

After the session, I broke down. I broke down for many reasons. One reason was RELEIF. I felt seen. I felt heard. He believed me. He listened to me. The sobbing continued when I called my sisters on FaceTime who were so very supportive and provided me with the laughs I needed to get out of the funk I was in. I also told Cherelle because she challenged me to put myself first. 

I have told a couple people because my God, the relief. I’m just happy to know what I have been battling and how I can attack it, survive it, conquer it. Mental health is tricky. It’s taboo. It’s (oftentimes) embarrassing. It’s heavy. It’s a lot. I’ve been told that I don’t have it by people who solely believe God will remove it, but I’m a strong enough believer to know that although he is a healer, one had to be willing to do the work in order to progress. 

I wear Bipolar disorder with no shame. It is my testimony. It is a part of my story. I won’t let it take my life away from me. I’m going to spend the rest of my life spreading the importance of SEL, psychiatry, medication, and therapy. 

I am so thankful for honest and true friendships. Thank you Cherelle for always, always being my sounding board. Thank you Tesney for encouraging me and recommending Doctor… I am grateful. 

Although my narrative has changed, I’m determined to fight my fears and embrace my imperfections. They say God gives his toughest battles to his strongest shoulders. Well, I’m ready for war! *okay, that was lame, but it has me crackin’ up!*

For #WorldBipolarDay, read at least one article about Bipolar disorder, stop calling people with mental illnesses crazy, stop telling people what they don’t have when it is hard enough living it, and show compassion.

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