Warrior Zone 

RallyUp Mental Health Warriors

war·ri·or

/ˈwôrēər/

noun

(especially in former times) a brave or experienced soldier or fighter.​

We Are Warriors Fighting Together!

 

Ever since I was little girl, I was always different.  At the age of 13, I was officially diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder (Manic Depression) and Oppositional Defiant Disorder. Being officially diagnosed finally gave me a little information on what was happening in my head. Not everyone in my family was accepting of my illness and some even believed “it was an excuse for crazy people to “act crazy”. My mom became my strength, but my father became my trigger and for many years my siblings were afraid of me. While trying to come to terms with my illness, I began to gain weight from the different medications that I was taking which this caused me to become the target of bullying my 7th grade year in school. I lost friends, my grades dropped, and I began to lose my will to live. Not only did I feel alone at school, but I felt like a stranger in my own home. After one very dark night, I had enough. Two weeks after my 13th birthday was the first of five attempts on my life. I went through three different facilities, engaged in self-harm, substance abuse, endured being raped, insecurities, spiritual emptiness, physical, mental and emotional abuse. After years of searching for strength, I finally found it within myself.  I finally realized I am NOT my illness!  It does NOT and will NOT define me! I am NOT crazy or hopeless! I am special! I found confidence in my beauty!

Pastor Jeffrey Pitts Jr. was born in Greenfield on December 24,1986 and grew up in Indianapolis. He was raised in a alcoholic home by a father who was a police officer and a mother who worked for the government. His life begin to go down hill at an early age, as He was raised in a heavily violent home with abuse and drug addiction. Going out to the streets as a teenager he began to sell drugs at an early age. Jail became normal with many stays in rehab as well due to drug addiction and battling severe mental health issues. Pastor Jeffrey Pitts answered the call to ministry at the age of 21 and began to preach all over the United States followed by helping pastor a church in Indianapolis. Not dealing with past trauma and sins his mental health began to decline even more and he went into an phycotic breakdown causing him to end up in a mental facility. He has been labeled with several mental disorders but rose up against the lies of the enemy and defeated them by the power of God. Such things as Paranoid Schizophrenia, Depression with Psychosis, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, PTSD, Trauma and many more but he never received any of it because he new greater he who is in him then he who is in the world. Jeffrey Pitts is Senior Pastor of The Upper Room Of Indianapolis,Inc and had a huge Facebook platform where he openly talks about mental health and is going to start going on tour called “Break The Stigma Tour” where he will be  talking bout how to cope and deal and thrive through mental health disorders. WE ARE NOT A VICTIM TO OUR BIOLOGY SAYS PASTOR JEFFREY and by the power of the Holy Spirit we have the grace to heal and change our circumstances. Be on the lookout for more information on him and reach out on Facebook. 

 

I was once told I had bi-polar depression and the psychiatrist wanted to drug me up, but I refused.  I feared the stigma of individuals who take medicine are crazy. All the years of fighting depression and sadness, it was a struggle. I faced the struggle of many months at a time where I was tired of life, and I didn’t know how much time was left for me.  13 years later after my diagnosis and years of counseling, I finally went back to a doctor’s office and said “Doc, I’m ready, give it to me”. A whole year of medicine and I felt mentally stable. My mood did not change so rapidly, and depression did not bind me. After time passed on the medication, I’d sometimes still have my moments where I’d be in my downs. Those who fight depression know what I mean. I could feel the mood shift, but it wasn’t as bad as my past. My son would say “Mom, are you OK?” “I think I need to lay down and sleep now son”. Still I relied on my medication because I felt better than I did before.  See, the same time I started my meds was the same time I left an unhealthy environment. I wasn’t sure if I felt better because my circumstances changed or because of the meds, maybe it was both. A year after taking medication, I felt God speaking to my spirit telling me it was time to let the pills go and I was going to be OK. We all have our moments in life where sadness will greet us, but we don’t have to stay and conversate with it. We keep on walking. With God by my side, I feel a happiness in life that I’ve never felt before and I refuse to let mental disorder ruin me. I decided to rely on my healing God, and it’s a decision that I could never regret.

 

Tai Campbell is a community activist and he leads a nonprofit organization, Taken Back Our Community (TBOC).  He was influenced at a young age by his father’s interest in chess, music, and boxing.  When Tai was eight he suffered an unfortunate accident that resulted in a brain injury.  As a result, he experienced mental challenges, depression, anxiety and cognitive, social and physical issues.  He used the skills his father taught him in chess, music, and boxing to get through the difficult times at school and in relationships.  Music was his first love and he found that he was a talented rapper and could write rhymes that were recognized by his community as profound. 

 

Today, his organization is focused on developing community programming for adults and children balanced across Mind (chess), Body (boxing) and Spirit (music).  His most recent venture, Eesha’s World is built on a unique concept for a multicultural kid’s performing arts program.  This program teaches kids to give back to their community and spread positive messages through their original music and dance. Tai Campbell received the Mental Health Warrior Award at We Fight Foundation, Inc's first Annual Rally at Busboys and Poet in Hyattsville, Maryland. 

 

Dasia is not your average teenager. At a young age, Dasia always knew she was unique, but also that she was destined for greatness. At just 16-years-old, she has already had her share of mental health challenges, with bipolar disorder and several deep episodes of depression, and anxiety, But that has not kept her down. Her mental health journey has instilled in her a desire to be more determined, build courage, and stand up for what she believes in.

As a result, she has developed a passion in support of mental health advocacy and she is on a mission to break mental health stigmas and strengthen the mental health system. She is active and raises awareness in the community, writes articles for a magazine, and has been invited to speak and share her story.

Dasia is an 11th-grade high school student who is simultaneously taking full-time courses in the Prince Georges Community College Concurrent Enrollment Program, where she is working towards her Associate’s Degree in Psychology. 

Her long-term goal is to earn a Bachelor’s, Master’s, and Doctorate degree in Psychology and Business. She wants to open her own mental health facilities in every major city in America and globally so that every person in the world will have access to quality and affordable mental healthcare, support, and resources and the opportunity to build better lives.

 

 

Born with the cerebral palsy and having to rely on leg braces and special accommodations in school as well as being labeled learning challenged, she overcame her physical challenges and left her leg braces behind. As an early teen, Elyse was a victim of domestic violence and child abuse.

With faith and effort, she became the exact opposite of what her abusers said she would become. She shed her IEP and special education classes, and by her 11th-grade year in high school, she tested out of specialized classes and became a member of the National Honor Society. 

 

At the tender age of twelve, I struggled and even was diagnosed with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder ). After dealing with the abuse for so long, it had taken a toll on my self-image. As another result of the abuse, I had really bad anxiety and had a truly hard time trusting others no matter their role in my life. I also dealt with bullies at school from everyone talking about my home life.  My mother decided after gaining emergency custody of me that therapy was the next step to my healing process and I thank God that she did that. In therapy, I was taught to understand my past and deal with all of my anxiety and fear until they no longer had power to control me. I also had my share of struggles battling with suicide attempts because of all of the things around me that I had no control over, BUT GOD! I am so happy and grateful that God had other plans for my life. If you’re in your own fight with depression, anxiety, suicide, fear bullying, understand that God is right there with you and that you are never alone. I wrote and released a book entitled Redemption where I talk about all of the struggles I faced in depth and how with God all things are possible. 

 

 

 

My Name is Tyshia Douglas I am 23 years old.  Some ask, how did my learning disability make me feel like I was the only one in the world that was going through it, especially when I was in school? It wasn’t easy. I didn't trust anybody with my secret, not my teachers, my classmates and sometimes I didn’t trust my friends. In school I tried to hide my learning disability as much as I could because I was scared for anybody to know. I struggled with comprehending my school work which was hard for me because it was like hiding a part of my identity from the world. Almost every year, I went to a different school which meant different teachers, different students, different friends but the same cycle of hiding my disability.

 

The reason why I tried to hide it as much as I could was because I had teachers that bullied me, talked about me and gave up on me when they didn't know how to help me. My classmates bullied me and judged me as well. They also told other kids who I didn't know about my “secret” ...my learning disability. I had so-called friends that talked about me and turned their back on me.  They tried to take advantage of me just because of my little “secret”...my learning disability. You would have thought that school was the only place that I was getting judge but NO…I even had family that talked about me and looked at me different. During this time I stayed depressed and was mentally and emotionally drained. I cried a lot, always felt alone. 

 

Finally things changed.  I found things that I enjoy and learned ways to express myself.  Today, I express myself through makeup, hair, and fashion. God gave me the gift to use my hands. This helps me cope and not give up.  I use the internet to help me. I Google or YouTube the things I may need help with. For example, I may use the Dictionary on the Internet to help me with different words that I'm not familiar with. I teach myself with self-help resources. They help me to stay motivated!  I also like to listen to Eric Thomas, Les Brown and TD Jakes. 

 

My name is Tanzania Fair. My nickname is “Chunk”. I was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan. I grew up in a single family home. My father got killed at the age of 22 years old when I was only 8 months. By the age of 10 years old, I wanted to be a dancer. I could dance so well. My passion was to dance on TV for famous people and at concerts. When I use to watch BET videos, I would  never see a dark skin girl that looked like me. It made me feel like I had to change my appearance to be accepted in the dance world.  It got shattered by family members treating light skin family members better than the darker skin. It got shattered by me not hearing “you're beautiful” enough.  It got shattered by high school boys who didn’t even know the effect that it had on me. 

In 10th grade, I experienced colorism. I lied to my mom about me needing some cream to even my skin tone out and she let me get it. I saved up my $25 from shampooing hair at my momma's salon to buy some skin bleaching cream. The lights spots started to spread all over my face, arms, chest, legs, stomach, and back. I told myself that no one could see my skin like this. I would spend 2-4 hours literally trying to find something to wear. I started to slowly sink into depression. I started to cover up my body every single day even during the hot summer days. 

My freshman year in college I was literally contemplated on killing myself in my dorm room but a voice from God came over me and stopped me from doing. I had already messed my life up and it was no way I could change it. It was no way I can go back and look “normal”. The negative voices inside my head kept me feeling sad, depressed, isolated, and even having suicidal thoughts. I isolated myself from my friends and family. I was sinking. I was mentally gone.  I wouldn’t have to worry about my skin issue. I felt like I did this to myself and I can’t change what happened to my skin. I could never look myself in the mirror because I blamed myself for what was happening to me. When I did, I was disgusted and hated seeing those light spots.

I started a women’s organization called Sistah Sistah Entrepreneurs Network.  It is a safe space for women to grow, network, learn, and heal together. If I could have only been myself and expressed how I was feeling to my sistah circle, it would’ve helped me sooner. 

 

 

My name is Craig Cooper. My nickname is “Coop”. Growing up, I was always an energetic kid. I was always smiling. That changed when I got in 3rd grade. I started to experience depression and self-hate. I was in a “regular” class and then I got put into special education class because of my learning disability. I felt like I didn't belong around other people. I remember when I was in the 4th grade and I was walking back to my class. The teachers always had the special education students come in the class 5 minutes later. The teacher mumbled under her breath and said “the retarded kids are coming”. I heard what she said and my face was in disbelief. She turned away when she saw me staring at her. I didn’t say anything. She didn’t acknowledge what she said to me. She didn’t apologize. I felt even worse after she made that statement.  The reality of my mind was already defeated. This experience followed me all the way into my adult life. I felt incompetent because I kept hearing “the retarded kids are coming” in my mind.  That voice wouldn’t go away. I felt like I couldn’t do anything. I felt like I couldn’t succeed in life. It shattered self-esteem. It started to make me hate myself. I wanted to be someone else. I felt like I wasn’t good enough. The older I got, the worst the depression became. I felt like I didn’t want to be here. It was a feeling of wanting to leave this earth. I felt like no one would miss me and no one loved me. Every morning I would wake up and cry. I would say “God why am I here?” Every morning it would take me an hour to get out of the house. Sometimes I would get to the car and start crying. Then, I would have to go back inside the house and try again. I remember this one particular day like it was yesterday. I was riding the train on my way work and I started to cry. I had on sunglasses to hide my eyes. I felt like the devil was on my back saying “today is the day to kill yourself”. 

 

I finally made to work and the crying wouldn’t stop. I had lied to my job saying I was sick so I can go home and kill myself. I made it home. I was standing in front of the bathroom mirror with pills in my hand and a death note. My eyes were filled with tears. As I was standing front of the mirror, all I could hear was negative voices in my head. It was saying “do it, no one loves you, you won’t be missed”. I started crying even more. I could hear my mom’s voice. My phone started to ring and it was my mom yelling “what’s wrong son?” I told her I’m hurting and I need help. I cried myself to sleep and later that day I talked to my mom.

 

On April 30th, 2010, I walked in the gym for the first time. I started to go on a regular basis and my results started to show. I started to lose weight and gain muscles. The gym became my safe haven. I began to use self-care methods such as writing positive notes to myself and praying every morning. This saved my life. Then I started to add mixed martial arts and tachi. I learned a lot from training. I learned how to be self-confident, take control of my life, and be a leader.

 

 

My name is Neta Vaught. I’m a mother of five amazing children, caregiver, advocate and author. My voice today is one that speaks for those who are silent, masked and in trauma. Today, I stand as a leader sharing the story of my life inspiring others. Not only do I inspire but I like to educate those who have stigmas when it comes to mental health.  Growing up I was like many little girls wanting a family, house, and to become a successful doctor. All I knew on the inside of me is that I wanted to save lives so people would live and not die. 

 

To dive right in when I think about all I have endured, I call myself a conqueror. I have conquered and continue to do so despite my obstacles. I was raised in a fatherless home and I am a survivor of molestation, rape, domestic violence, attempted suicide and much more. Growing up in my household was different from others. I remember the good ole days when my mother would paint with me and teach me how to model. One day that changed when my mother was diagnosed with bipolar and paranoid schizophrenia. She had been seeking help but didn’t tell anyone.  As a child I was embarrassed, and I was angry with my mother. Over 30 years ago anything with mental illness was a taboo. I would cry many days because I felt that she hated me, and I questioned why she didn’t love me anymore. While I was questioning my mother, I didn’t know that as a child I was in my own state of depression. 

In 2009, I attempted take my own life. I was tired of hurting and it hit me hard, the feeling that all my life things were snatched from me. What was the point of living if it was going to be nothing but hurt, pain and loneliness? After being admitted to the hospital following my suicide attempt, I was then diagnosed with major depression, generalized anxiety disorder and PTSD. I hated myself and here I was a mother of three children. Even then I didn’t understand it all until 2015 when I was forced to face again what I didn’t understand about depression and that I was hiding it. Depression didn’t come knocking but it came in like a thief in the night. I would go to bed feeling okay but then wake up feeling like I was fighting for my life. It was this time in 2015, that I refused to lose and was determined that giving up wasn’t an option. It was during this time I took off my mask and decided to face my past and all the challenges I had to endure. This time I didn’t want to just fight for myself, but I wanted to fight for others. I knew I wasn’t alone although I felt lonely. What I knew was that me continuing to live, overcoming all I’ve gone through was for me to help save the lives of those experiencing similar things that I had. I changed my perspective of my life’s circumstances and I learned that I was much stronger than I had believed. 

 

My motto is “Free the minds of the people, and the people will heal”.  

 

Everyday give yourself permission to heal and remove your mask. Take back your joy and reclaim your life because it’s worth living. Everyday life seems like a fight, but I know that I don’t have to fight alone. We can stand together as one. Let’s make the noise to put the stigmas to rest and not our voices or lives. My comeback is greater and better than every struggle and so is yours.

 

 

My name is Kayla Sampson and I am from Atlanta, Ga. I am currently a student at Spelman College. I was diagnosed with Major Depression in 2013 after I began to self-harm. I was also diagnosed with Anxiety and PTSD. I was rediagnosed with Bipolar II Disorder in January of 2018. However, a lot ran beneath the surface of this diagnoses. I was sexually abused at the age of six by a childhood friend, I lost my brother at the age of nine, my father has been ill my whole life, I was bullied in middle school, I was raped at fourteen, etc. just some of what I constantly locked away inside me. I am not my mental illness, struggles, trauma, or past. I tried my hardest not to let these outside circumstances become my internal reality, but at one point it seemed like my trauma and pain became all that I am.  

 

Middle school was the very first time I realized something was a little different with me. I never really felt like I belonged. This feeling was heavy, but I always tried to keep a smile on my face and not let it get to me, but it began to do just that. Throughout high school, I fought myself daily trying to be the girl I knew I could be. Some days I would win; other days I would lose painfully. It was always a struggle of who I knew I was and the person I started to see more frequently. The depressed, hopeless, numb, and exhausted girl begging for a breath of cool, fresh air. I began to struggle with keeping up with my classwork due to my frequent absences from when I just could not get up and face the world. I knew I was capable of such great things. I always knew I could reach amazing heights and achieve my biggest dreams if I set my mind to it. I wanted to be a pediatrician; open up a nonprofit helping survivors of sexual abuse, domestic violence, and sex trafficking; create a medical device that would aid children, adolescents, and adults who were ill feel a little less stressed and at peace... I was so hopeful. The main thing I wanted to do with my life was to help others. Yet repeatedly I found myself in this seemingly inescapable pit where I could not even help myself. This darkness that always followed me around and at any second it would kidnap the girl I was and replace a girl I never desired to know. 

 

Experiencing these feelings and beginning to self-harm is what pushed me into asking for help originally. I told my mom, someone, I trusted, about everything that had been going on with me and she got me the help I needed. I was able to thankfully get into therapy and find an amazing psychologist and psychiatrist to support me through this season. However, this was not the end of my lifelong journey through mental illness to find mental wellness. I had to leave high school for a month in my junior year to receive psychiatric help. I graduated despite all these obstacles with the help of my incredible family, friends, therapists, psychiatrists, teachers, church, etc. and got accepted into Spelman College.

 

Spelman was a dream come true. Yet, my struggles still remained. My freshman year was okay; I made it through! Then sophomore year hit, and my mental health started to unravel once more. I reached a very low point. It was as if my darkness had found me again, so in order to save my own life, I decided to take a leave of absence. I left Spelman, came home, and went to another psychiatric treatment facility for a month. I made it out and ready to take on the world once again! 

 

 

You probably want to know a little bit about me before I start expressing my struggles, so here you go. My name is Lorelai Symmes and I am 15 years old. I love anything horse related , poetry, and sunflowers. My struggles with mental health started when I was 9 years old. I began displaying extreme OCD( Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) symptoms and was soon sent to therapy. This lasted for a while and soon I was able to get my disorder under control. Unbeknownst to anyone , at this time I began experiencing body dysmorphia and was doing anything possible to lose weight. When I was 11, things began to go downhill. I was in an abusive relationship that resulted in my young self being taken of so much innocence and love for myself. This soon resulted in the development of anorexia. I was in outpatient treatment for a while and was soon discharged from the services. A couple months later, I relapsed and I relapsed hard. My symptoms progressively got worse until they were realized by my parents. I was put back into therapy but it did nothing. My weight and health plummeted until finally I was so ill that I was sent to the emergency room. From there I was referred to an EDU (Eating Disorder Unit) where I stayed for three months. It was months of tears and fear, but on February 1st I was discharged. This time, I was truly choosing recovery. I began to write poetry and eventually signed with a publishing company to publish my first book. When I was discharged, I thought it would be the end of my struggles, but boy was I wrong. In September, I developed PTSD from my abusive relationship and hospitalization. I recently began EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) as a way to reprogram my current negative thoughts and feelings. I am so grateful for Rally Up for allowing me to work with them to fight mental illness one day at a time!! 

 

 

My name is Cymone. I am a young woman personally affected by mental illness I turned my experience into an opportunity to advocate for other survivors with a diagnosis, or survivors overcoming different traumas that might typically be ignored. 

During puberty I struggled with depression heavily. My first suicide attempt was probably around middle school. I was raised in church and I begged God to take me in my sleep. I dealt with self-harm and body dysmorphia, that went hand and hand with my depression. I wanted so badly for someone to care. Instead my acting out got me sent away to live with a family member over 1500 miles away. My parents didn’t know what to do for me. From that point my struggle with rejection became worse. My “new family” did not always accept me. I went from home to home being the black sheep in each one. Back home I dealt with an emotionally abusive father. At my new home I dealt with an emotionally distant one. My upbringing was not typical or healthy. It was tumultuous and toxic. 

I became  independent, growing up very quickly. Soon that led to heavy drinking and the behaviors that comes with the party lifestyle. I went from place to place until a relationship gone bad led me to homelessness. There were a few of us who squeezed in one tiny apartment with no lights, heat, or food. Eventually, I was able to get back on my feet. I was able to get a place with the assistance of a friend and landed a decent job. Shortly after, I lost my job and my heart was completely shattered. I felt like a complete failure with no hope in sight. My life took a turn for the very worst. By the time I turned 20, I decided I had enough. Late one night I consumed all the Tylenol I could find in the house. I ended up in the hospital on complete lockdown. After that I was sent off to the behavioral health center where they gave me a laundry list of diagnosis and medication. When I was admitted, the first thing my “visitor” asked me was, “Do you know you go to hell if you kill yourself?” When I was released the first thing I was told was, “You don’t need medication. You need support. We’re going to get you off that medication.” These were stigmas from a black family and the Christian community that hit me immediately leaving a lasting effect.

 

I was overwhelmed by everything that was going on and confused by what to believe. Throughout the next few years, I continued to move around. Still, my family didn’t know what to do with me or what was best for me. I was a fully-grown adult still being tossed between households and states. Eventually, I was back in my home state. The last place I wanted to be, yet home is where I started treatment and was consistent on my path to stability and recovery. Years would go by before I started being open about my struggles with mental health and at times it was evident even when trying to hide it. I was a private person with many labels placed on me already. Inspired by the singer/songwriter Demi Lovato and her transparency about her struggles with drug abuse I came out to a social media audience.  I opened about my own personal struggles surrounding my diagnosis with Bipolar Disorder. I was frustrated by how she was treated and shamed by the (social) media, but I was now less ashamed of my own battles. I was embraced with so much support. This made me want to be a part of stopping the stigma. Many people began telling me that they had endured similar circumstances but never felt comfortable sharing.

I strive to normalize these conversations because of this, especially in urban and Christian communities. My organization, “Of A Sound Mind” is a faith-based organization but is open to all. We host panel discussions, support groups, and other events to continue to get the word out on the importance of mental health. Our goal is to give support to those who struggle with their mental health, and we also strive to educate communities that might need guidance on how to be of support. Since becoming comfortable enough to speak on my own story my goal is to continue to help stop the stigma on mental illness and raise awareness. I want to be a voice to those who continue to suffer in silence. I refuse to let my pain go without purpose. I have committed to using each part of my testimony to help the next.

 

 
 
 

My name is Lawrence Durden. I suffered from Depression during my
second marriage due to abuse. You don’t seem to notice it at first when it starts. If you think someone knows more about a subject than you then you tend to believe them until you research the truth. My second wife used manipulation, lies, mental and physical abuse to beat me into a depression. She did not like how everyone felt that I was such a great guy and I that I always smiled. This resulted in the abusive actions directed towards me. Some of the things she did were meant to torment me. So, she would do things like throw outrageous fits of rage where she would break things in our apartment. She would hit me with things, knowing that I would not hit a woman.

(Read the Rest of My Story HERE)

At the age of five, I learned what death was all about when my best-friend was murdered due to gun violence. Shortly after that, the only home I’d ever known was broken and life, as I know it, was over. When I was 15-years-old, my mom and I sat in front of a doctor who diagnosed me with Bipolar Depression. My mom and I laughed because we already knew it. However, we didn’t take that doctors diagnosis seriously. In 2012-2013, I was diagnosed with Bipolar Type 1 & 2 Severe Depression, Psychosis, and Schizophrenia. By 2016, my diagnosis had not changed, but I also had anxiety, PTSD, and Borderline Personality Disorder. Often, I felt like I was sleeping my life away. I didn’t know who I was anymore and I didn’t have any friends left. Eventually, I took my life back and dedicated it to showing others how they could do the same. I rebranded myself from within. Learning to love myself more and discovering more about myself. I knew I wasn’t alone in this and wanted to show others how I overcame it. I created Focusing In Growth & Holding Together (F.I.G.H.T) Mental Health Support Organization. Our mission is to educate, bring awareness, and break the stigma of mental illness within the Black/African American Community. We know that we can’t help everyone; however, if we can touch one, we know we can touch millions. 

 

 
 

Tyeisha Brewer-Fields

“Ty, what’s wrong?” When I think about dealing with my mental health, I first think about the day I was lying on the couch during childhood crying uncontrollably, and my confused and concerned mom asking me what was wrong. Honestly, I was confused also. I knew I was sad, but I didn’t know why. I didn’t understand why I couldn’t stop crying, or why I couldn’t just be happy. This was one of many episodes that I had throughout my life. During elementary school I had my first encounter with a psychologist and psychiatrist after visiting the school counselor. I received my first diagnosis of clinical depression. I was also prescribed medication to help with the symptoms. However, I was in denial and refusing the treatment. I grew up wanting to be what society views as “normal.” This had me trying to hide the mental health issues by trying to act “normal” and fit into society. However, I’m not their “normal,” and I had to realize that that’s okay. All those times that mental illness would have me wishing that I was “normal,” praying to God, and asking why I’m not “normal” and why me; I had to keep reminding myself that God loves me anyway. Although at times we may experience difficulty, it may be what separates us from everyone else that God will use to help us reach our growth, next level, and help others get set free. Being in denial, trying to hide the issues, and wishing I wasn’t dealing with it continued and then I had my first suicide attempt when I was in high school. It involved me taking pills until my mom walked in after being told by a friend’s grandmother what I was doing. My friend found out after calling me and hearing how suicidal I was. It was after this attempt that I received a second diagnosis of major depressive disorder. YAnother diagnosis of major depressive disorder, anxiety disorder, and a misdiagnosis of bipolar disorder came in my early 20s after being referred to a community mental health facility after a crisis episode and a mobile crisis unit coming out. Depression, anxiety, community facilities, doctors, ERs, suicidal ideations, and more had become a part of my life. However, I was still in denial and refusing treatment. And then, something changed my outlook of my situation:When I looked up and saw my daughter with tears rolling down her face with this scared and confused look, I knew it was time- time to surrender, get help, and accept that something was wrong with me. It was when I looked up to grab the water to wash down the pills I had intended to take that I noticed my baby standing there silently crying as she watched her mother try and take her own life. “As if my siblings and I aren’t enough to live for,” she must’ve been thinking. I asked God for strength, and he sent my children- literally. After looking at my strength (my daughter) right in the face, I knew I couldn’t do it. It was that episode that made me aware of the fact that I needed help. The haunting and disturbing image of my poor baby having to witness me in crisis kept popping up in my mind. I kept telling myself, “this is for my babies.” I knew I had to do it for them if for no one else. After seeking help, I decided that I wanted to take a psychological test to get an accurate diagnosis so I could receive the proper treatment. I then received a correct diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder, depressive type. I was prescribed an antidepressant and an antipsychotic. The antidepressant is to control the symptoms of major depression, while the antipsychotic is to control the symptoms of psychosis. For me, these symptoms in the past have been delusions, obsessive thinking, paranoia, mood swings, and more while I was going untreated. I also started taking DBT therapy, in which I did successfully complete. Today, I THRIVE with the diagnosis of by continuing my treatment of medications, therapy, exercise, working to maintain a healthy diet, writing, reading, spending time with loved ones, and most importantly-following the path God has for me. Despite the obstacles, I’m flourishing at being a wife, mother of five, mental health advocate, published author, and behavioral health student at an online university. Schizoaffective disorder doesn’t have me; I have it!

 
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