Shining Some Light Into the Darkness: Mental Illness & Healthcare

Regardless of what many people may think, mental health is just as significant as physical health.  Especially within communities of color there is a stigma associated with mental illness and asking for help. I grew up in a household where depression and suicide was deemed issues that only affected privileged and non-religious people. In fact when I revealed to my family that I wanted to see a therapist at age 16 because of a recent suicide attempt, rather than getting any guidance, I was  reprimanded for not having faith in God and told to pray for forgiveness.

This is actually just one reason why I have yet to be officially diagnosed with depression, however, I have been for anxiety back in middle school by the school counselor who recommended that I go see a mental health professional after she witnessed me having a panic attack by my locker one morning. For some context I should note that by age 10 I had already attempted suicide three times. At the time I was struggling with self loathing, part of which had to do with my negative body image at the time, but it was also linked to my family’s homelessness. I don’t usually talk about this mostly because (until quite recently) I believed that this would reflect badly on my family. I became an overachiever, and a perfectionist that would break down at the mere idea of failing because in my mind I had to prove that I deserved love and to live. Failure meant that my existence was a mistake and I was a burden.

This was also when I was introduced to the alternative metal band, Linkin Park.  Having songs like By Myself, Don’t Stay and Numb made me feel like someone understood – something that I desperately wanted at the time. Lyrics like “I can’t hold on to what I want when I’m stretched so thin /It’s all too much to take in / I can’t hold on to end things watching everything spin / With thoughts of failure sinking in,” gave a voice to everything I was feeling that I couldn’t find a way to share with anyone. (To say I was obsessed with the band would be putting it mildly, their music and genre lead to my current taste in music which I will talk about in a future post.)  It may sound cliché but the emotion behind those songs just helped me kept pushing even at my lowest points because it proved that my feelings were valid and that I wasn’t alone.

Through cognitive  behavior modification, I did manage to work through my anxiety, during which time I actually moved on to listening to other bands, only going back to Linkin Park whenever I really needed them.  After all, anxiety and depression doesn’t  just disappear and there are times when your mind will take you right back to the same dark places you once left as if no progress was ever made. Fast forward to July 20, 2017. I was eating lunch with some co-workers when the news broke that the lead singer and songwriter of Linkin Park, Chester Bennington had committed suicide. We were devastated. Here was a man that opened himself up in order to help others not lose themselves in the dark spaces of their minds, who ended up lost himself.

That day at the office was the first time that I had the urge to cry at a celebrity death which is why I was happy that I had like-minded people around me that day to talk through the news. In our discussion the topic of mental health-care came up. Sure, talking things out with family and friends is helpful, yet there are times when you just need that extra professional help, which was something I always believed myself to be priced out off due to my low income, but, as I learned that July afternoon, it turns out I was mistaken. So I sat down with my friend and co-worker, Marjorie,  who actually worked in health insurance for two years, in order to learn more about what is covered for those of us that may not have the means to pay for services out of pocket. I hope that this information helps anyone that has been looking for resources to get the treatment and care they need.

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Bold Colors & Prints

Just a quick glance through many of my outfit posts one immediately notices that I have a strong and committed relationship with the color black – particularly NYC-black.  Part of this is just a left over from my high school goth days, but the truth is that bright hues make me nervous. It draws immediate attention and for a recovering wallflower that can be pretty unnerving. However,  even with those feelings I think fashion calls for challenging yourself, like I did with this bold African print mini skirt.*I got this skirt at the Curvy Expo during Full Figured Fashion Week this past June from the Obioma fashion booth and I was so excited about this new statement piece that I wore it a little more than two weeks after. I remember the face of my best friend when I descended the stairs to meet her and her hubby at her car to head over to Brooklyn for Curl Fest. They both were stunned to not only see me  forgo black but to go for something so bright.  I’m still not used to getting compliments but I think I can get used to being greeted with, “You look gorgeous.”

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+Size Matters: Shrek Franchise

It’s been a while since I’ve done another media-literacy study of plus representation in media but after this unplanned hiatus I’m back with some new content for this ongoing series. So for this come-back I thought it was only fitting to finally deliver on a promised post – my review of “Shrek.”

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Image Credit: DreamWorks

Yes, the “Shrek” franchise received it fame for being  the most anti-fairy tale family film ever conceived though it does play with many of the tropes, many of which were created by Disney, in order to make fun of them. However,  the franchise is noteworthy for depicting a very real relationship in an animated feature with characters that are visibly plus. (Now as an adult I can’t help but wonder if this is meant to convey that only “average people” have relationship problems that need solving, but that is a discussion for another time and place.) Continue reading

Mix and Maxi (Featuring Dia&Co.)

Back in April I put in my order for my first Dia&Co. box and I received a beautiful windowpane print ELOQUII dress that I loved but would did not fit very well. Devastated I asked my friend, Jonquel, body positive plus size fashion illustrator of JonquelArt, if she wanted to try it on only to find that it fit her perfectly.  That particular dress was a more conservative style than what she normally wears so even though it fit her very well, we ended up sending it back anyway. Needless to say this started our semi-monthly Dia box parties. We now order our boxes around the same time so that we can go through our individual pieces together, giving our honest opinions on how things fit, providing style recommendations as well as giving each other the opportunity to try anything that interests us from the other’s box.

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The Difference Between Surrender and Acceptance

One of the biggest pushes against body positive movement is this idea that those involved with it are promoting/glorify obesity. For some screwed up reason “making an effort” equals thin while being larger is equated to “letting yourself go” or simply “giving up.” Those of us in this body positive/love community, know this is not the case but for those on the outside looking in, this is their only way to understand what is going on.

At the third annual Golden Confidence Pool Party last month.

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