Riding the Waves of Life


7.22.19


I took a social media break for a few weeks to realign and focus. People have asked where I’ve been and I’m here to tell you: I’ve been grieving, healing, looking inward, finding peace, going to therapy, working out, leaning on my support system, and just focusing on Taylor — and I’m not ashamed to say that. Certain things happen to us and force us to spend lots of time alone, doing tons of introspecting, and making the necessary changes to be the best versions of ourselves. In my almost 27 years of life, I have definitely learned from experience that life gives you hella lemons but you have to find a way to come up with the ingredients to make some bomb ass lemonade. I use that analogy to say this: life is hard but it keeps going. I like to think of life as riding the wave of an ocean. Sometimes you’re on top of the wave, living your best life with things going well and sometimes you end up beneath the wave, in the ocean struggling to catch a breath of fresh air, but no matter what end of the spectrum you’re on, you have to fight, not give up and get back up to ride the wave of life.


I recently had an experience in which I found myself under the wave but thanks to my village I am better and more resilient than before. Don't get me wrong, I'm not writing this from the perspective of being on the other side. I am still in the throes of this, still a work in progress doing the necessary hard work to get to where I need to be. Perception is reality and if you don’t know me personally you probably wouldn’t even believe some of the things that I’ve experienced just by taking a glance at my outward appearance or my social media presence. Mental illness does not discriminate. I’ve been in very low places and very dark places. I have experienced grief, loss, heartbreak, depression, anxiety, trauma, hopelessness and helplessness. Although I am not defined by these moments, they are all part of my experience, my story, the story of what makes me ME. In the midst of my mental health crisis I decided to turn my pain into something positive.


Last week I attended the No More Martyrs Minority Mental Health Awareness Summit and heard one of the panelists say, “your problems will never be bigger than your purpose,” and I felt that statement in my core. In some cases, your pain can push you forward and that’s what brings me here today. That summit came at just the right time and I am so happy I decided to attend. It was so inspiring and the confirmation of my calling and purpose. It actually inspired me to write this post and share some of my story. I am committed to spreading the word about mental health, destigmatizing mental illness, and normalizing seeking help in the Black community. This is my passion and I intend to share my story in hopes that Black and brown girls, boys, men, and women don’t have to experience the type of pain that I and so many others have experienced. It’s so true that everyone has a story. Everyone is fighting a battle that you know nothing about so it’s best to be kind. One of the speakers at the summit said, “be who you needed when you were younger” and I’m not just trying to be what I needed when I was younger, I’m trying to be what I need right now in the present moment.


An excerpt from the book Black Women’s Mental Health: Balancing Strength & Vulnerability (Evans, Bell, & Burton, 2017) reads:

“Regarding transparency, truth and vulnerability are key components to a model of mental health. One cannot fix a problem without exposing it. This endeavor seeks to reject the culture of stigma and shame attached to mental illness and treatment by encouraging Black women to be vocal about their experiences and share stories of recovery.”

Sharing my story is therapeutic for me and part of my healing process. I also hope that it can give someone else the courage to share theirs or seek help.


I close with these final thoughts:

  • If you find yourself in a dark place, reach out to a loved one or seek professional help.

  • I understand that everyone may not be in a place where they are ready to share their story, but if you are, go for it. You never know how impactful it can be.

  • Therapy is okay. Medication is okay.

  • Identify what peace means or looks like to you and do whatever you need to do to protect it.


Stay well y'all.


Peace, love, & blessings,


TJL

Resources:


As mentioned in the post:


https://www.nomoremartyrs.org

https://www.amazon.com/Black-Womens-Mental-Health-Vulnerability/dp/1438465815


If you're feeling suicidal or need help finding a therapist in your area:


National Suicide Prevention Hotline 1-800-273-8255 (available 24 hours a day)

https://www.therapyforblackgirls.com/therapist-directory/?

https://therapyforblackmen.org/find-a-therapist/

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us

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©2020 by Taylor J. Langley.