Tag Archives: Michelle Williams

I Could Have Been Her. [Trauma While Black]

Every day on my way to work I come to a familiar (and awkward) intersection; finding myself face to face with the woman of “what could have been”.

Let me explain.

I work in a small town and often see faces of people from yearbooks past and find out what most I graduated with don’t – what happened to __________?! Back in college, one of my high school acquaintances and I became closer and began hanging out with each other more. This meant meeting each other’s families and knowing parents and cousins on a first name basis. I distinctly remember one special cousin in particular who would come up to the college to hang out in our rooms some weekends. Cousin and my friend were more like sisters really! She was still in high school (about 3 years younger than us) and I remember her being so entranced by the college life. She was tall, skinny and was a really pretty girl overall. She would LOVE getting into some of everything, asking a million questions and sticking her nose into everyone’s business. To her college was another world.

Well, as college progressed, my friend and I eventually went our separate ways and adventured into young adult life. This also meant we didn’t see each other’s families like we once did – including Cousin.

Fast forward 11 or 12 years, and notice a strange woman aimlessly wandering up and down the street not far from where I work. It’s common to see kids skipping school or people saving gas by walking, but I quickly noticed that this woman was different. Not wanting to be rude, I’d try to sneak a glance at her face, but it seemed every time I passed her on the way to work she’d be walking IN my direction, so I’d have to turn all the way around to see her face. One day, I decided to just throw caution to the wind and look around. What I saw broke my heart.

It was Cousin.

She had transformed into someone virtually unrecognizable. Her hair had been shaved. She’d picked up at least a good extra 80 pounds and she had the distinctive stare of someone who had suffered mental trauma. Growing up in and out of hospitals and meeting countless of my mother’s special education students, I have developed a knack for recognizing when something is “not all there” with someone. Cousin had that stare. Since then, I’ve studied her as I drive to work. I’ve even waved a time or two to no avail. Her blank stare and babbling otherworldly chatter leads me to speculate – what happened? What happened to transform this giddy, lively girl into a woman who may not even know where she is most times?

Did she have an accident where she sustained a brain injury that left her incapacitated? Did she have a surgery that went wrong? Did she experience a traumatic experience that triggered the onset of mental illness? Is she under a spiritual attack?!

Looking at her each week puts me into a reflective state of “she could have been me”. She could have been any one of us really. Think about your own life for a few minutes.

Have you experienced a heartbreak or trauma that could have made you “lose your mind”?

Were you ever involved in an accident or event where you could have suffered a brain injury?

Have you ever felt the weight of your problems plunge you in a spiritual darkness, constantly hovering over you?

The truth is YOU and I escaped those things. Cousin, unfortunately, didn’t.

Take time today to really check on your friends, families, and classmates. Offer them an encouraging word if you notice on social media (or in passing) that they are struggling with something. Encourage them to seek professional and spiritual help. Let them know that there is NOTHING wrong with investing in a therapist and spiritual counselor. There is still mass stigma in the black community regarding seeking professional help for trauma.  It’s one thing to not be able to afford it, it’s another to simply dismiss the benefit of it.

As long as I see Cousin, I will continue to thank God that while I could have been her, I am not her! I will continue praying for her…her family…that they get the answers and help they seek. I don’t truly know what had happened to her, but I pray whatever it is, she stays safe, that she doesn’t hurt anyone else and that we all count our blessings!

— Joc

 

ps. Here are some helpful recources for you if you want more information specifically catered for African Americans!

  1. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/therapists/african-american

  2. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/culturally-speaking/201111/why-african-americans-avoid-psychotherapy

  3. https://www.therapyforblackgirls.com/

  4. http://bridgehavencounseling.org/counseling/profile-of-omar-king/

 

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Chad Loves Michelle: Depression, Anxiety & Love

This morning while getting ready for work, I watched Good Morning America and was able to catch the end of Michelle Williams’ and fiance Chad Johnson’s interview with Robin Roberts.
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In the little part that I saw, Michelle spoke on battling depression and revealed that around the time she and Chad were getting deep into their relationship, she checked herself into a hospital for treatment. When Chad came to visit her, she told him “I understand if you leave. I can go to bed at night knowing [it was because] you were praying for a wife, but not a depressed wife.” She had already mentally prepared herself to battle her depression without him but he stayed.
That stuck with me.
If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you know that 2 1/2 years ago I was attacked with burnout/anxiety and started having issues traveling distances that I normally wouldn’t think twice about. You will also know that it was TOTALLY out of the blue! AND that means you know that at that time my burnout occurred, I had literally JUST started dating my now ex-boyfriend. It couldn’t have come at a worse time.
So here I was trying to balance a new (somewhat long distance) relationship, ever mounting responsibilities at work, family issues, a photography business, and on top of all of that — anxiety. Prior to that, I had never really dealt with it before aside from stress and it caught me off guard. I was just used to that stress where you can drink a Ginger Ale, take a nap, and wake up fine! What honestly frustrated me about this whole fear thing was the fact that I couldn’t seem to shake it overnight.
FACT….most everything I’d been confronted with in my life (up to then) was always something I could snap out of or shake off. Not this time.
Going from fearlessly traveling ANYWHERE in the world to freaking out by simply sitting in a car is DRAINING, CONFUSING, EMBARRASSING…. you add a new boyfriend in the mix. DISASTER. One of the reasons my ex started dating me in the first place was for my sense of adventure. Huge problem Houston.
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While my ex and I had some really good moments, I truly believe (now and even back then) that anxiety was primarily responsible for our breakup. Sure we had a ton of other differences and probably would have broken up anyway (lol) BUT may have stayed a little longer if anxiety and panic attacks didn’t tag along as the third wheel.
When we broke up I couldn’t blame my ex for not wanting to deal with a woman battling anxiety but deep down I was hoping he would or could somehow help see me through it. It changed who I was. I clung to my family a little tighter, I was a little less adventurous, every trip to visit him wiped out every bit of spunk I had. It was mindblowing for ME to deal with and I was PERSONALLY frustrated BEYOND end. I felt weak, I felt punkish, I felt crazy; basically, all of the above. I didn’t want to be a girlfriend or wife fighting anxiety — I’d never experienced it before in life and was mad at myself for not being able to just ‘snap out’ of it; after all, that was how I usually rolled.
Watching that GMA interview this morning and seeing how Chad truly loves Michelle gave me hope.
“The relationship just seemed to be slipping out of my hands,” Chad said in the interview. “I could see [her] spiraling, but I had no idea that it was depression.”
Seeing how Chad and men like LaGuardia Cross have made the choice to help their women conquer their mental struggles gives me hope that there are people who can handle it.
Let me say this, I have NO intention of allowing anxiety to stress me like it once did forever. I plan to live FREE from this! Since the winter of 2016 – spring of 2017, I began seeking out mental and spiritual help, beginning with a therapist. While I am better than what I was 2 years ago I’m not at 100%. However, what I have learned through this experience so far is that some obstacles don’t fall away overnight. Some do. Some people wake up the next day and the fear is gone. Some have to work to achieve that. It’s a matter of focusing on God in the midst of everyday stresses and taking things day by day. Not worrying about the future but focusing on the victory in today. I am not alone and there are others who sympathize AND empathize with my journey.
I AM MAKING THIS CLEAR RIGHT NOW — I am not trashing (nor trying to trash) my ex because he didn’t have the capacity to deal with my monster at that time; I couldn’t honestly say that I wouldn’t have felt the same way THEN if I were him either! I learned a lot of valuable lessons and gained new insight during the time we dated. I AM, however, expressing the thankfulness I have for supportive friends and family because I now know that everyone doesn’t have the patience/will to interact with someone battling with PTSD or anxiety.
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I know God did not give me a spirit of fear but has given me His Spirit of love, power, and a sound mind…some days it’s just a little tougher to grasp that truth.

I have thoroughly been encouraged today. Michelle and Chad reminded me that all I can do is take each life one step at a time and that I shouldn’t allow myself to fall victim to discouragement whenever I have a bad day. Their words reminded me that this too shall pass. They reminded me that I should be thankful for the blessings of those in my tribe while graciously accepting the exit of those who choose not to be part of it. All in all, I’m good! I am graced for this.
Peace and blessings,
Joc

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“If We Had Your Eyes” – Michelle Williams

 

I just want to say that I am almost to tears literally (and it’s not just because I’ve been swamped all day). This song is not only what I needed to hear today, but just looking at how beautiful Michelle is and how she doesn’t look like what she’s been through is pure amazement! I saw Michelle share her testimony on an episode of LA Hair last month in where Kim styled her hair for her album art shoot with photog phenom (and my photog role model) Derek Blanks. Michelle revealed what virtually NONE of us knew — that she was fresh out of a battle with depression. This would explain where she’s ‘been’ this entire time. Some could crack jokes and compare her to Beyonce or any other member of Destiny’s Child, but I won’t. Being in the spotlight after joining a girl group that already had hits, THEN to branch off into the ‘unpopular’ sector of Gospel only to be shadowed by the success of her former bandmates HAD to be stressful. AND who knows, she may have dealt with family issues as well. Either way she has emerged as beautiful as ever and you can’t help but FEEL her lovely spirit leaping from the screen.

Derek Blanks is amazing in general, but he really captured the beautiful simplicity of the song’s message and who Michelle is as an artist. Also, model Michael Silba did amazing as the homeless guy. I’ve seen his work as a model but his acting is right on time and shows that he is diverse in his talents. I also enjoyed the cameo by Letoya Luckett; it shows that people can get along regardless of the past or how others may try to put them against eachother. Either way you need to SHARE SHARE SHARE this video with everyone you know! You never know whose day you will make…afterall, watching this video made mine.

– Joc

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