On Being Brave

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For me, it’s important that I set goals, in all areas of my life. Right now, the goal I’m working on is being brave.

Brave enough to be my (weird, random, silly, moody, slightly-OCD) self.

Brave enough to love myself, as I am.

Brave enough to walk away from those who don’t deserve to be in my life.

Brave enough to say “no,” when I want. And brave enough to say “yes.”

Brave enough to do what makes me happy.

Brave enough to take time for myself.

Brave enough to be honest, with myself and others.

Brave enough to embrace my faults. Brave enough to admit I have them.

Brave enough to be vulnerable.

Brave enough to love, with my whole heart.

Brave enough to step out of my comfort zone and try new things.

Brave enough to fail. And, more importantly, brave enough to succeed.

That’s my goal, what’s yours?

A Beautiful Mess

I had a dream last night – most of which I don’t remember (Isn’t that how it always goes?). But, in the part I do remember, I was feeling particularly down on myself. More specifically, I hated my hair. I couldn’t do anything with it. My curls just weren’t cooperating.  If I recall correctly, I actually said, “I’m a mess.” To which, someone – don’t remember who – replied, “You’re beautiful.” Wow. I mean, that’s what we all want, right? For someone to say to us, even when we’re at our worse, “you’re beautiful.” After all, isn’t that what life is… a beautiful mess?

I woke up from that dream smiling, like a loon. That was at 2:00 a.m. this morning, and I’m still smiling (on the inside, because I don’t want my coworkers to think I’m anymore crazy than they already do). How amazing is it, that a dream compliment had that kind of effect on me? Imagine how a genuine, real life compliment could affect someone. That got me to thinking, do I compliment people enough? My loved ones? Friends? Coworkers? Complete strangers? Do I compliment them at all? What kind of difference in someone’s day, would a genuine compliment make? To say to someone, “Good job.” Or, “You look nice, today.”

So, with that said… my charge to you (and to myself) is to strive to make someone’s day, by genuinely complimenting them, every day. Be it the same person, or a different person every day. You never know, you could be touching them in a very special and very needed way.

xo, Bree

There’s Courage in Choosing to be Happy

Let’s face it… life is hard. Sometimes it sucks so bad, it makes you want to wallow in the deepest pits of sorrow.

For me, for a while, damn near all of my days were like that. Wake up miserable, go through the daily motions miserable, go to sleep miserable, repeat.

Finally, I got to a point where I was sick of feeling like that. I was ready to kick sadness and despair to the curb, and embrace happy. Choose happy.

Unfortunately, being happy wasn’t as easy as I thought it’d be. I was just too darn comfortable used to being miserable. I wore it like a warm blanket on a cold winter’s night.

No, finding happy wasn’t easy. It took hard work; dedication; and most of all, courage.

Courage to change your whole mindset and way of doing things.

Courage to recognize the need for change.

And, courage to seek help – professional or otherwise – when it all gets overwhelming.

For me, my journey began with making some hard choices. I chose to stop wallowing. I chose to accept that I couldn’t do it all alone. I chose to seek help. And most importantly, I chose to just be happy.

I still struggle with it, some days more than others. However, giving up is not an option.

xo, Bree

Black Girls Don’t Cry

“Depression is not a sign of weakness. It means you have been strong for far too long.” – Unknown

According to the National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI), only 12 percent of African American women living with depression seek help and/or treatment.

You see, as black women, we’re supposed to be strong. You know, the ones who “keep it together,” when everything, and everyone, is falling apart.

Also, for so long things like depression, bi-polar and schizophrenia were considered “the white woman’s” problem. And, seeking professional help seen as a weakness, or a lack of belief in the “God heals” train of thought. I mean, our ancestors went through slavery, and we’re “whining about being a little sad?” Hell, the diseases themselves aren’t even seen as sicknesses, but weaknesses.

Believe me, I know how hard it is to admit you need help. And, even harder to seek it out.

Don’t even get me started on the prejudices and stigma that surround mental illness – especially in the black community.

From NAMI:

While Caucasian women experience depression more often, African American and Caribbean women experience greater severity and persistence. The National Survey of American Life: a study of racial, ethnic and cultural influences on mental disorders and mental health, provided evidence of communities holding on to long legacies of secrets, lies and shame originating from slavery. Avoiding emotions was a survival technique which has now become a cultural habit. Five reasons a majority of the population withheld information on illness included:

  • might hurt the family
  • might ruin their career
  • people might think they are crazy
  • they cannot afford to appear weak; and
  • shame.

Societal issues also factor into a higher percentage of African American women experiencing depression. Being both female and African American can make a person more vulnerable to negative attitudes and behavior. This gender crisis is important in pinpointing depression among the African American population. To serve others in the community, family and others often leaves these women unable to relax or sleep.

Body image also affects women of color, creating a cascade of events: Others may believe the stereotype portrayed by the media of African Americans as curvaceous and sensual. However, for every curvaceous celebrity there are millions of women who do not match this body profile. For some, food then acts as a comfort, serves as protection and results in overeating and sometimes, eating disorders.

While major depression can be devastating and overwhelming, it is highly treatable. Roughly 80-90 percent of people diagnosed can be effectively treated and return to their usual daily activities and feelings.

Now if we can only convince people to get treated.

xo, Bree

Thoughts on Mental Illness and a Confession

Confession: A few years ago, I was diagnosed with depression. Since my diagnosis, I’ve been on antidepressants, to control it.  When I look back at the time before I sought help, I was probably definitely depressed long before then. I always think about all the mental strife I could’ve avoided, if I’d just talked to my doctor earlier. If I hadn’t been ashamed.

When I see all these news stories about people who suffer with mental illness, doing illegal and/or dangerous things – it makes me wonder if they’d gotten the help they needed, would they still have done what they did? Could lives have been saved?

I truly believe that if we erased the stigma of mental illness, more people would seek professional help.

xo, Bree