The year was 2020…
I think just mentioning 2020 and needing saving is enough detail to be globally understood. However, exclusively for eMAGE, I’ll give some more details.
2020 was undoubtedly a life changing year for me. The year started with a commitment to getting things right, the heavily acclaimed “2020 vision” everyone was talking about was at the forefront of my mind. As a plus-sized woman, battling the psychologically devastating effects of polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) and other health challenges, and facing increasing feelings of fertility despair and worthlessness, my determination to overcome was high at the start of the year. But unfortunately I was already tired. Tired from other years of trying to muster up that same determination, and tired of life throwing curveballs my way. A global pandemic which forced me into an introspective lockdown situation was the curveball that surprisingly landed me right where I needed to be, in the care of my therapist.
Strong minds are needed for healthy bodies
When I did my master’s degree in public health, one of the first things we were taught was the WHO definition of health, ‘a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.’ Even before I learnt that definition, I’ve wholly appreciated the significance of focusing on mental health to achieve overall health. Indeed, if it wasn’t for some of the stigma associated with seeking mental health care and what I felt in the past was an absence of easy options to access it, I maybe would have had a therapist years ago. People spend a lot of time talking about their diet and exercise when trying to prove they’re making healthy choices, but relatively little time talking about what they’re doing to safeguard their minds. You see, the two are interdependent.
In my 30+ years on earth, I’ve struggled with my weight almost every day. At the end of 2019 and into early 2020, I was temporarily winning the struggle, having successfully lost 36lbs. This was not my first rodeo though, in my life I’ve lost over 30lbs five other times. But in 2020, after one more failed romantic entanglement, yet another negative sign on a test I secretly desired more and more to one day see positive, and one nationwide lockdown, I lost my will and my drive, all of it. In about 2 months I regained 34lbs. This was hardly about my body, it was about my mind.
Right place, right time
My co-worker is a clinical psychologist. We had spoken earlier in the year about her opening up a private practice to provide private therapy sessions to her clients. I was behind that idea 100%. When we resumed coming into the workplace during the summer, one day she tried encouraging me to try some green smoothies that she was making for weight loss purposes and I explained to her that I had zero motivation to try anything weight-loss related. I had watched my weight climb back up but I was frozen emotionally; physically unable to do anything to stop it. My co-worker by this time had started up an online therapy service, Be Kind to Your Mind, and she asked if I wanted to try it out and I readily agreed. I understood instinctively that I needed help. I also understood that I couldn’t just pray about it, wait for it to pass, talk to my friends about it, listen to a motivational speaker on YouTube to get over it, or the most commonly purported Caribbean solution, shake up myself and be strong about it. In the same way l never hesitated to visit a doctor when I was in sustained physical pain, my mind needed a visit to a professional when it was in pain. And so, my therapy sessions began.
Healing is for the strong
I won’t lie and say taking that step was easy. Facing your deepest and darkest secrets and traumas isn’t easy. Unpacking emotional stressors and slowly learning how to retrain your mind to deal with them isn’t easy. Unearthing the power you hold within you to deal with your unique set of circumstances isn’t easy either. None of it was easy, but it was oh so worth it. You see, right there in the comfort of my own bedroom, I was talking to a trained professional once a week, in a highly confidential setting, to process things that had been hidden deep in the recesses of my brain but which affected my very being. I started therapy with a bad outlook, and I evolved to reveal a more positive outlook. My motivation slowly returned, my drive started to pick back up, I started to create and inspire again, I began the metamorphosis of the mind which I had needed for so long. The highlight of my experience was when I got out of bed at 5am a Wednesday morning in September after my Tuesday night therapy and managed to do 10 minutes of walking in my driveway. 10 minutes. The first time I had exercised since March. A milestone of amazing proportions for someone who had essentially given up on that entire weight management process. I haven’t stopped or looked back since.
We ALL need therapy, at some point
I share my experience not for attention but to encourage. I was maybe seen as the person who had it all together, but I really didn’t, nobody does all the time. And it is the times when we falter, when we give up, when our residual traumas get the best of us, when we struggle to cope, when we feel defeated, when we have heartache which seems unbearable, when we don’t know how to handle our life’s crises, that’s when we need to turn to a trained therapist. My therapist is Shoyéa, don’t be afraid to find yours.
For more information on online therapy sessions, you can visit http://shoyeagayegrant.com
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