I waited a good few months to record this episode of London Mind Fit Sessions. In fact, I probably waited longer than that to be honest. The main thing that I needed to see on a personal level before recording a video about reality was what was going to happen at The Inauguration on January 20th, 2021. I needed to see Joe Biden become President.
I was concerned about the safe transition of power in The United States for some time, but never did I expect for the events of January 6th, 2021 on Capitol Hill to transpire. None of us did. While the tensions in The US have been running high for quite some time, the symptoms of such vitriol and hatred can only be manifested the way ugliness can, by rearing its head in unpredictable and perverse ways.
We all experienced a trauma on January 6th, no matter where you were around the globe. That is our reality. And so, with that in mind, in the second episode of London Mind Fit Sessions I will introduce reality and two very important distinctions I make in understanding how it functions. Then we will look at the events on Capitol Hill and the Impeachment Trial as an example of a communal trauma. And finally, I will relay a message to anyone who is struggling, giving insight on ways to possibly regain balance.
Watch the video below and feel free to share with anyone who you think this video may help!
I interact with a lot of mental health media on a daily basis. If you have curated your social media content to look like mine does now, then you get updated often when something new surfaces in the community. But if you don’t, I am here to share a gem with you today in your path towards healing. Peace of Mind With Taraji on Facebook Watch is as refreshing as it is enlightening. One of my favorite things about the show, is that Taraji is unafraid to be candid and open about a subject as typically hidden as mental health.
When I was diagnosed with PTSD, I had no idea what I was in for. And every day since then, I have been navigating this path of living with the effects of trauma but never giving up on having a healthy mind. The whole mantra of this website is “I can recover, I will recover,” which I can say like a broken record (and will). The thing is though, sometimes you need to see it in motion for yourselves.
Cue Taraji P. Henson’s new show Peace of Mind with Taraji. The show delves deep into often taboo or stigmatized subject matters such as PTSD, suicide, and rape but it does so in a way that is different from other media. Something that I pointed out when I was a guest on The Eric Ibey Podcast is that these conversations don’t have to be all dark and dismal, there can be light moments within a difficult conversation. I believe that Peace of Mind with Taraji captures that necessity for mental health discussions.
I want to tell you what prompted me to write this post right now and why I believe it is so important to do so. A lot of people are struggling mentally at the moment, so I want to caveat what I am about to say with that.
I was on Facebook doing a regular scroll down the timeline when I saw a post from The Source Magazine. It was an article written about Taraji P. Henson. The headline reads, “Taraji P. Henson Reveals She Contemplated Suicide During The Pandemic.” I had seen this news in headlines a few times before since the media has been sharing it almost everywhere, but a comment on this one prompted me to read the article. The comment reads, “I don’t want to hear that shit. She is richer than rich and I’m sure she wasn’t all alone or completely staying in the house.“
I would like to address this comment in its entirety. The first message in this comment is that wealthy people do not suffer mentally. The second message is that only those who are “all alone” are given license to suffer mentally. And the third message is that staying in the house at all times is the only circumstance that gives you permission to suffer mentally. The circumstantial nature of this comment is a fallacy. Wealthy people suffer mentally. People who are alone and with company are suffering mentally. And those who are both staying in the house at all times or not have equal permission to suffer mentally.
We are in a pandemic. Times have gotten dark for almost all of us at some point or another during this time period in our history. What is important is that we do not place shame on anyone for any divisive reason we can think of, especially one as lacking in relevancy as socio-economic status.
People from all walks of life can and do deal with mental health conditions on a daily basis. We are all survivors.
After I read the Facebook comment, I went further and read The Source Magazine article about Taraji. After reading that article I took it one step further and finally sat down to watch both episodes of Peace of Mind with Taraji. I knew that I wanted all of the context before deciding to share this post with you. As. I watched the show, and my tears began to flow as I related on so many counts, I also felt relief that there is work being done to destigmatize mental health in an effective way.
This type of work takes a lot of bravery. I would like to thank every single woman on the show for sharing their experiences in order to raise awareness for such silenced topics.
Taraji discuss her thoughts of suicide during the pandemic in the video below.
My recommendation is to watch all 4 videos with comprehension of the heroism it takes to be that open and vulnerable.
In order to heal we must actively do the work and seek out the resources that will help us improve our mental wellness. Well, now you can add a new show to your list.
Tune into Monday’s episode with the iconic Mary J. Blige!
The journey you take in this life may feel as though you walk it all alone, and in some of the most beautiful ways, sure you do… but, even though there may be moments where you are in a room all alone, or rather are in a room with someone else and feel all alone, you in fact are not.
Isolation is an incredible deception because it tells you that you are the only person going through what you are experiencing. Yes, there are unique factors to the situation you find yourself in, it is after all your life; however, in reality, there are roughly 7.8 billion people on the planet, and many are experiencing the same thing as you are, just different versions.
I’ll never forget when I spoke at a Reclaim Your Voice event in Toronto back in 2016. I discussed my experience being hospitalized for mental health issues against my will and how difficult that was for my trust connections afterwards. At Reclaim Your Voice events, participants will write down notes for the speakers to read when the day is done. I received a note from one person in the group saying that while I was speaking about the psych ward and what happened with my family, he felt as though I was describing his life. He thanked me for speaking that day and then the note came to a close. I will never forget looking at the cue card sized note and thinking to myself, “wow, other people have been through this as well. I am not alone.“
Isolation is a liar, and a popular one at that. Feelings of being alone in your experience are not necessarily accurate.Yes, you may experience periods of solitude or even estrangement from others in your life, but even in that solo journey comes the reality that others are going at it alone as well.
This holiday season, do what is right by you when you celebrate. Make the day special for you even if you cannot be with your loved ones outside of your home. Do something you love to do, or even just something comforting, and enjoy your time to yourself. 2020 has presented unique challenges for us all, and even though we are all going through it alone, we are still in this together.
It’s been a while since I have posted on London Mind Fit. That has been deliberate. I was going through a lot on my own and didn’t feel it was appropriate to bring you on that potentially tumultuous journey with me. I was right.
Back at the beginning of lockdowns, I began to think about how to create a mental health mini-podcast series. I wanted for it to be on point, which means that I needed to be. Finally, the first episode of London Mind Fit Sessions has come together! The subject matter for the first episode is one that is heavy to a lot of people within the mental health field: diagnosis.
To watch or listen to the first episode of London Mind Fit Sessions click play below.
Start at the root of the issue and analyze the effects of that epicenter.
Retrain your thoughts.
The process begins with the will to not be ruled by what isn’t truly real.
Mental health is more than a hashtag or a slogan, it is a necessary topic for conversation because it is such a “mystery” to so many. Whenever people recover from a mental health ordeal it is always a case of “how did they do it!?” or “it’s a miracle!!” While yes, it is God-sent in my opinion, it is not as enigmatic as some may make it seem. There are active things that you can do to build your mental strength. And on that same train of thought, there are active things that you can do to regain control of your thought processes. One such area that can be tackled, (and needs to be approached in that direct of a manner) is triggers. Triggers are deceptive as f*ck. They take truths and cloak them into lies rooted in paranoia. But like everything that can feel insurmountable, the process begins with BABY STEPS.
Now, first off, I want for you to be very conscious of the fact that dismantling your triggers involves a lot of emotional work. It requires rigorously monitoring your thoughts and actions until it becomes second nature. But YOU CAN DO THIS! Learning how to break down what sets off negative mental patterns is a highly empowering experience because, it allows you to live in what is true and real as opposed to what your deceptive associations dictate. When you begin, remember to BE KIND TO YOURSELF. Pull out the tissues if you need to and get busy working on what it is that has been controlling you.
Grab a pen.
Grab some paper.
And get to work!
The work that you will be doing will help you in every aspect of your life. When you look your triggers straight in the face, you show yourself that you are not afraid. You are choosing to not be afraid of what is going on around you and what is going on inside of you.
I dove head first into my triggers and rode the wave all the way through. Whether or not that was the right way to do it, I can’t be sure. But, here I am on the other side. I did meet some people along the way who were able to get through to me when my triggers had taken control. I am grateful to those people. I am grateful for the mirrors they held up to my face that forced me to see myself when more than a fog had set in.
Triggers can be highly disorienting. They can set you on a path of self-destruction that, if you had the tools in your mental health toolbox to deal with them prior, could have been avoided. This is what I am talking about when I refer to preventative measures. This is what is necessary for the future of our society. We need to approach mental health education as being necessary for our youth. It needs to equip our children with the knowledge of how to deal with mental struggles because let’s face it: we all struggle mentally at one point or another in our lifetimes. Whether it is a breakup, grieving from a death, or the results of trauma, we all go through some form of mental turmoil at one point or another in our lives. While most can relate on that point, not all of us experience intense and overwhelming triggers to the extent that they need to be unpacked. Well, there is no shame in being a part of that group, but it is a shame when you deny your membership because then you deny yourself optimal functioning and happiness.
If you need help, reach out to someone you trust. Do research on exactly what your issue is. Do not pull the ostrich approach when it comes to your triggers, your head deserves to be clear.
Healing is a process that begins with identifying a problem. Tupac Shakur diagnosed what he saw in the streets with his concept of “T.H.U.G.L.I.F.E.” When you look at those two words together you can potentially think one thing, but in reality 2pac broke the term down letter by letter to mean something that most people I encounter do not expect. The acronym stands for “The Hate U Give Little Infants F*cks Everyone.” And in my opinion, there is no truer talk.
I have always loved Tupac. Ever since I first heard “Changes” on the radio I fell in love with his music and Hip-Hop as a whole. But, it wasn’t until I heard about T.H.U.G.L.I.F.E. that I realized just how intertwined my purpose is with what Pac was talking about.
The hate people give children is what creates the pain we encounter daily in society today. Until the issues 2pac was addressing with T.H.U.G.L.I.F.E. are properly addressed in our social system, we will continue to see hurt, and pain, and suffering.
I found out the meaning of the acronym around the time that I was working on my theory for the promotion of children’s rights, The Child-Centric Framework (CCF). CCF utilizes dominant psychological theories of human development to drive the point home that the relationships we have as children affect the dynamics we experience with others throughout our lives. CCF draws on the evolving nature of the social conception of the child and the proven effectiveness of macro level policy changes to help guide that evolution. I focused on this theory for a year, and realized at a certain point, that I was addressing 2pac’s concept of T.H.U.G.L.I.F.E with The Child-Centric Framework. CCF promotes child empowerment for an end result of healthy societal functioning. It is a perspective to begin a conversation from.
Tamir Rice would have turned 18 this week. 18. He would have finally become an adult. This week, as if almost overnight, Tamir Rice would have acquired all of the rights and responsibilities of being an adult in this world such as, the freedom to make his own decisions. But, because he was playing with a toy gun in a park, and was Black, he was shot by police and died as a result. Tamir Rice was 12 years old.
In 2012 Trayvon Martin was killed. People can play guessing games all they want as to why my mental health suffered at that time but they would be wrong. It was Trayvon’s death that I couldn’t handle. When I heard of his death, all I heard in my mind was a child being murdered. I had seen so many deaths and instances of police brutality online that when Trayvon was killed I broke open. That’s when I wrote my first rap verse. That’s when I turned to Hip-Hop to survive.
Tamir Rice was 12 when he died. Trayvon Martin was 17. Tamir Rice was playing, and Trayvon Martin was just getting Skittles. Please let that sink in. Do not forget their names because they were both someone’s sons and they were both valuable human beings in their own right.
Since George Floyd’s death, I have not known what to say publicly on this website, because I have mostly been having thoughtful conversations in private about it. But when I saw the above meme, “Healing comes from repairs. We need a systemic repair.” a quote by Mily Gomez, LPC, I knew how to contribute to this discourse properly.
Healing is something that needs to be done actively, so that eventually it can be done automatically, in order to allow you to proceed to the next level. Consider the concept of healing a physical injury, there are concrete stages that you take dependent on the type and severity. Well, our entire system is injured, so we must take steps in order to achieve the end result that we want, which is a healed new system.
When it comes to police brutality what we are seeing is generational policies embedded in white privilege isolating and targeting Black communities. As a collective, we cannot accept this as daily life. In a world that is over half a century down the road since the establishment of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) that outlines the rights of every citizen globally, how can we accept the systematic murders of innocent people for any reason. How can we accept the ignorance of racism being as rampant as it is in countries as wealthy as the United States, where it is commonplace to be harassed simply for being Black. Just as Tupac identified the root issue of T.H.U.G.L.I.F.E., we must identify the root issue that is plaguing every single one of us, every single day, due to the fact that racism can spread like diffusion. It can poison the mind, and it can create bias that costs others their livelihoods and even their lives.
The truth seekers are those who either actively or innately lift the veil of the lies that bind us and prevent us from living our lives more fully. The truth seekers can change the world, because to live in an ignorant state of any kind is to set yourself up for either failure of a major kind, or a sheltered and inaccurate existence.
As a starting point for a conversation about the root issues in our system, look at where the most pain resides. If you listen to 2pac’s music you will notice that he is often talking about pain, particularly the pain that he sees in his own life and his own community. Begin your journey of looking for solutions to the problem. Begin with T.H.U.G.L.I.F.E
Then, as a next step, think about The Child-Centric Framework as a springboard perspective to approach your problem solving for the issue. And from there, let your mind soar.
While thinking about potential solutions, think freely. Allow yourself to let a train of thought fail, so that you can eventually get to the one that does not. Trial and error is a process, and trial and error is often a process that is required in order to find the answer that succeeds in solving the problem.
I do not know the cure to racism. I do not know the cure to all of the root systemic issues that infect our society. I do not know how to solve all of our problems. But I do know some things when it comes to human rights. And I know that the bottom line is that everyone deserves to have them, not just those whose complexion matches the authority’s opinion of who should receive fair treatment.
The Child-Centric Framework was created in response to my identification of a mental health crisis across the globe. I saw a problem and I chose to address it by creating a framework based on a hunch. I knew that children’s rights was a part of the answer, it just wasn’t until I dove into the research, finished the theory, and then delved deeper into 2pac’s concept of T.H.U.G.L.I.F.E. that I realized just how potentially powerful CCF truly is.
Racism is an issue that affects everything, because like Pac said, “the hate you give little infants f*cks everyone”.
I recently saw a tweet that said something about being cautious when it comes to “toxic positivity” in the spiritual community. The point of the tweet was to make the reader aware that it doesn’t have to be “good vibes” all of the time and that being human involves feeling low in some moments. Some healers make it seem as though they are constantly happy, and maybe for some it is not an act but most human beings experience highs and lows. Some experience highs and lows in greater extremes; however, for the most part we all respond to stimuli that is positive and negative that has an effect on our emotional regulatory systems and mental health patterns.
My last post was about being sexually assaulted by someone that I cared about, and while it may be difficult for some to read it is important that you know that just because someone is a mental health advocate does not mean that they are “cured.” If anything, it means that they have a certain level of insight into mental health and are advocating based on that knowledge set. Some people advocate based on personal experience, others because it is the people they love who are afflicted and so on and so forth. Every source has a particular reason for speaking out…mine is that I’ve come so far and feel as though I can help others through sharing my story.
At this site, I want for you to feel as though your mind is sparked on the subject of mental health. I want for these words to instil thinking, and hopefully healthy thinking in the long-term. Everyone is on a mental health journey whether they recognize it or not, but this website is particularly intended for those who are on that journey actively. I am looking to reach those who want to be reached, not those who are close-minded. This is not a diss, but a strong alliance I have for people who are “in the thick of it.” People who have gone so deep they see no way out. I was one of those people. Hope pulled me out of it and faith kept me going.
Sometimes with mental health issues it can feel like there is no rulebook for regaining stability. The truth is the path to get well is really deep within you. It is rooted to your happiness and learning to follow that path in order to bring positivity into your life and higher vibrations to your being. Happiness smiles through all of your cells. Speak kind words to yourself, be patient with your path back to you if it is going slowly. Rome wasn’t built overnight, and neither is a mind that needs to be rebuilt after a struggle.
I want to leave you with one final thought. Mental health issues can be likened to a house fire. Imagine your mind is your home and there is a fire in one of the rooms of the house. There are multiple options for how this fire can be put out, and there are multiple scenarios for how much damage this fire can potentially do. This is like your mind in crisis. If the issue is dealt with correctly, swiftly, and with care, there could be minimal damage requiring few repairs. However, if the fire becomes out of control, is not dealt with in an appropriate time or manner, the fire can devastate the home and potentially burn it to the ground. Now, either way, we assume in this scenarios that the person survives the fire, however, they still need a home. They have the funds to rebuild (i.e. the physical capacity/inner will) and they have options for how to rebuild their mind.
The fire in my mind required me to rebuild my mind entirely. I sought to have as sound of an infrastructure as prior to my mental health issues, filled with even greater knowledge sets and skills sets structured to fulfill my purpose in this life. This looked like doing self-interviews in real life, reading books on mental health, watching documentaries, creating as much as I could, and praying to God that I would get my mind back.
Trauma may be able to set a fire, but you have the power to put it out. If you need help from a professional there is no shame in that, my best advice however is to thoroughly research the individuals you are going to entrust with your care. You are in charge of your mind, the work you put in to make it stronger, and the knowledge you feed it to make it wiser.
Feel your power, claim it, and own your experience.
I believe in paying homage to important events when their anniversary arrives, not because I want to linger in the past, but as a way to remember who you are.
After what happened a decade ago, I have had to install mechanisms into my life that remind me of just that.
When you engage in any romantic relationship, you take risks. Normally the risk you worry about is getting your heart broken, not your mind.
When Youssef raped me on this day 10 years ago, he broke both.
When you have a broken heart you can feel lost, but when you have a broken mind you definitely are. He didn’t break my heart by being a perfect man and then letting me down. He didn’t break my heart by promising me the world and then not delivering. He didn’t break my mind by telling me I was the one and then choosing someone else. He didn’t break my mind by asking me to be his girl and then hiding me from the world.
He broke me through rape.
Rape is used as a tool in war. The mental health ramifications of being sexually assaulted can manifest themselves in many different ways. Trauma leaves a burden on the survivor to either remain seated by what you have experienced or figure out how to stand up again. It seems like every time I tried to stand back up I was pushed down again, but like Cardi B says, “knock me down 9 times but I get up 10.”
At times the pain and the mountains I was facing felt like I was taking on Mount Everest without a map, proper gear and other key essentials. But I trusted myself to get to the other side. I believed in something bigger than myself, whether you call that energy source God or The Universe, and I had faith in that higher power. I had belief in nature and the good in the yin and yang.
2Pac said, “there’s gonna be some stuff you’re gonna see, that’s gonna make it hard to smile in the future.” Right now is one of those moments I am having trouble smiling in. As George Floyd’s murder has sparked Black Lives Matter protests worldwide, there is an incredible amount of violence seen at the hands of police against peaceful civilians exercising their right to express their frustrations with a system that can only be described as a “failure”. The system has failed me numerous times, but you don’t see me raising my white arm screaming “All Lives Matter” because no one is saying that all lives do not matter by saying “Black Lives Matter.” Just as being an advocate for women’s rights is not saying that men should not have rights too, the Black Lives Matter movement is about advancing the human rights of the Black community, not eradicating the rights of others.
To me it’s simple, you’re either down with human rights or not. So you’re either with Black Lives Matter or you’re not.
As I have reflected on the days leading up to this one, it is impossible not to think about all of the Black women who have been raped. It is impossible not the think of my friends around the globe from all different places who have been raped despite the various differences in our societies. Sexual assault and rape are issues that plague every single sector of society, the consequences of which affect everyone. It is a women’s rights issue that we should all be able to stand up for, not against.
Today I decided to go back to where it happened. I had been wanting to go the Old Port neighbourhood of Montreal for a while now to sit by the St. Lawrence River but hadn’t worked up the nerve to do it. Youssef lived there and that’s where we used to spend time together.
As I sat by the water today, I thought about all of the people that I represent on this issue. I thought about all of the silent voices that cannot speak because they are minors. I thought about all of the silent voices that cannot speak because they do not have the ability right now. And, I thought about all of the victims of rape who do not survive and cannot speak because they are not here to do so.
I came home and then I made this video of my day, edited alongside two of my songs “Loved U By Mistake” and “Tidal Wave.”
When I got home from my day I wrote this:
Truth be told I want to scream
In fact, when I got there
To the place we used to go
That’s how I felt
Like I want to scream so loud the whole port could hear me.
Scream so loud the whale in the St. Lawrence river would create a tidal wave with his fin just to wash away the tears you’d made me cry by the water so many times before.
But this time there were less tears.
This time I reflected on me, not you.
This time I didn’t see you hurting me, but I saw me getting stronger.
In 2010 I wrote a poem out of frustration. I remember sitting at the table in my flat writing this piece while I was supposed to be studying as a way to make sense of the world around me. I wrote a lot of poetry around this time since life was swirling in so many different ways, and as I was becoming more and more hypersensitive to the news, I increasingly needed to rely on my creative outlets to get me through the heartbreaking truths of our society.
This week, I tried relentlessly to record a video of myself discussing what is going on right now in the media, specifically in regards to the murder of George Floyd. I sat down 3 or 4 times to do it, wrote notes on what I wanted to say, but when it came down to it I couldn’t express how I truly felt.
Then I remembered my poem, I Am Close-Minded.
Right now we are seeing an incredible amount of division, racism, and exploitation of power globally. The news has been overwhelming for many for a while, but right now it seems to have come to a clear head for many of us who are tired of seeing innocent Black lives be stolen because of the systemic injustice of racism that has yet to be addressed worldwide.
I Am Close-Minded encapsulates how I feel in this moment, despite the fact that it was written one decade ago. It could have been written today, but it wasn’t. What has changed from the time that I wrote this poem and today is that social media exploded over these past ten years. While our main news sources were largely mainstream media corporations back then, now social media dictates where our attention goes. There is people power in that.
This poem is helping me right now, I hope it can do the same for you.
This morning marks 8 years since I survived my first night in a psychiatric unit of a hospital. Well, an emergency psychiatric unit to be specific. I say “survived” because not everyone is so lucky. My first night sleeping within the cold foreboding confines of a hospital ward, designed to detain those in heightened mental states, was exactly as you would expect. The first 24 hours from the moment I stepped foot into the hospital until the following afternoon were composed of straight horror film scenarios, except it was real life.
Between the tall male that had just been released from prison who was warning me that where we were was “worse” casually bringing up rape, to the heavy-set woman who tried to choke me out in my sleep, I knew shit was f*cked. Worst of all, no one was taking my personal testimony on something as private as my own thoughts, and there were no psychologists or therapists to speak to at all. Just a shrew of a psychiatrist who diagnosed me within 20 minutes of arrival. I spent most of that 24 hours frantic about my new reality, and for the other portion of time I drew “universes”.
I sat on my hospital bed in a communal room where for the first time in my life I was being observed under harsh circumstances, and all I could think to do was draw.
Since that day I have become stronger, not because I was hospitalized but in spite of it. There is a problem with the way our healing system is set up and it is okay to recognize that. In fact, it is imperative to do so. If we ignore that the mental health system has its failings then we fail any member of the public in crisis.
What I saw in those first 24 hours didn’t tell me everything about the journey that laid ahead, but it did show me that I could get through it. I survived that night and many more…many worse.
Since that day I have had to rebuild myself, my reality and almost every aspect of my life.
To all of the psych ward survivors out there: I see you. Even if you aren’t raising your hand to say that you’re a part of the club…