Jessica’s Story of Postpartum & How She Beat It

Today I will be featuring an awesome young lady who is no longer scared or silenced by her mental illness.  I just want to thank Jessica from the bottom of my heart for helping me to bring awareness to mental illness, especially in the African American community.  She’s a regular person who could be your friend, cousin, aunty, church member, or even you.

Here is her story:

I’m Jessica. I’m a serial entrepreneur and a divorced, homeschooling mom of three.   I’ve always been pretty mellow, emotionally. I definitely am more on the rational side. And, like most black women, I had internalized that idea that “strong” means you don’t cry, and crying or expressing emotion was “out of control.”

So imagine my surprise when, after the birth of my first child, I often found myself crying in the shower, fantasizing suicide and cutting myself.

Yeah…It was a lot for me to process, too.

To make matters worse, I was in a toxic marriage at a time before people were even talking about Postpartum Depression. Neither he nor I knew what was wrong with me. We both thought I was “crazy,” “weak” and “losing it” and of course we thought it best if we don’t tell anyone. Without us explicitly discussing it, it was somehow obvious to me that it was something I needed to try to hide, something shameful.  So I coped by cutting, because physical pain was easier to treat than the vague, suffocating, emotional pain that had no real source. And eventually got better.  That is, until my second child was born.

In the wee hours of the night, while trying to breastfeed, I found myself crying again for no reason. This time, I knew better than to let my unsupportive husband know or see. I soothed myself by playing out the different ways I could end my life…trying to figure out the least messy, least melodramatic. However, this time, the topic of Postpartum Depression had just entered our cultural consciousness. I didn’t talk to my doctor about it because, y’know, shame…but I felt like it was something I should look into.  When I got pregnant with my third child a few years later, for the first time a doctor just asked me outright “Do you struggle with any mental health issues? Any self-harm or anything like that in your childhood?”
“Uh, well. Yeah I was a cutter after I had my first child.”

The doctor’s eyes were full of concern. She questioned me further and we decided that what I was suffering from was Postpartum Depression. Together we made a plan to get ahead of it. I went to counseling throughout my pregnancy to develop behaviors to help when I felt myself slipping and I was giving and prescription to Cymbalta for after my daughter was born.   And it worked, she was the only child who got me at 100% because this time I was healthy and had the support to deal.

That was ten years ago.

Since then I have had two bouts of depression. Only this time, I didn’t stay silent. I understand know that depression is not about personality, strength, or weakness…it’s about physiology. It’s science. This is something my “rational” mind can understand. If changes in my body can create illness in my lungs or stomach or heart, why not also the brain? It’s an organ like all the rest. No need to make it personal.

Now, I am very open about seeking counseling or therapy when I feel imbalanced, mentally. I am extremely more mindful of my diet and take self-care seriously. Especially now, juggling being a single, homeschooling mom and business owner, my self-care has never been more crucial. People often tell me I look like I have it all together, or that I make it look easy.  I am very quick to tell them “well, that’s just because I unplug from Facebook during my bouts of depression!” I never ever want to hide that part of myself from people again because, hopefully, by being candid, I can show people that it’s okay to acknowledge that sometimes you can’t out-think your body’s chemistry.

Mental Health: It’s a Real Thing

Mental health is something that affects society and has for a long time.  I think it’s time we start educating ourselves about it instead of just acting like it’s something so foreign that it doesn’t affect you.  Well, let me tell you something…..If you know someone with a mental illness (and I’m sure you do) it affects you.

Here’s an article I wrote for Syllabus Magazine and the stigma on mental illness.  Click here to read the article.

Dating Over 30: Don’t Ask for My Social Media

Happy first day of May, my birth month!!!!

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Now that that’s out of the way I have a series I’m thinking about starting about dating as a woman over 30.  Here’s a story about a recent encounter…….

So I went out the other night with a friend and her boyfriend.  We went to a local bar that has a lot of adult games like Jenga, Corn Hole, pool, etc.  The atmosphere was super laid back and everyone was having a good time.  My friend and I were playing corn hole and by this time had had a few drinks so we were feeling good.

This guy was watching me and my friend play corn hole and asked if he could play me.  After a while he bought me a drink.  My friend’s boyfriend went with him to the bar because I’m super cautious about taking drinks from strangers.

We talked for a bit and at some point he asked me to walk with him to his car to get something, can’t remember what because I was indeed pretty tipsy by this point.  Before I could answer my friend and her boyfriend let it be known that was not going to happen.  As we’re talking a friend of his, KiKi, interrupts our conversation and they speak in code.  Sounded like an illegal transaction of some sort.  As she walks off he’s like “Oh, that’s my friend KiKi.”  I didn’t really care so I was like ok.

Then he asks me for my instagram name.  My IG is for business and I’m not huge on social media.  The only platform I post personal stuff on is Facebook.

I was a little confused as to why he asked for it.  Apparently that was his way of wanting to communicate with me.  I looked at him like he was crazy.  I had to know his age because this is some new age young Millennial type crap.  He’ll be 30 in July…..too damn old to be asking for my snapchat and IG.

Sir, I’m grown.  If you want to get to know me you’ll need my number.

As I’ve gotten older I’ve started paying more attention to the small things that let me know what kind of person a guy is.  Here’s what I came up with for this guy.  I can’t remember his name but that’s not important.

  1. He has an issue with communicating.  I wish like hell I would communicate with you through DM…..yeah right dumby!
  2. Regarding the interaction with KiKi……right before we left he was talking about how he wanted to get to know me and has nothing to hide.  That’s why he introduced me to KiKi.   STOP!  You didn’t introduce us.  You told me who she was after she walked off with her rude ass, interrupting our conversation.
  3. Why was he talking in code with this girl?????  The conversation between them that was obviously hiding something and the random trip to his car let me know you’re doing something I don’t have time for.
  4. He talked about himself way too much.  There were things I said more than once and each time he acted like it was the first time I said.  He wasn’t listening.

I haven’t gotten a DM and if I do I won’t respond.  But am I tripping?  Y’all, let me know!