Today I want to share my story and bring attention to as many people as I can reach in the secular and church community, something that is near and dear to my heart, mental health. Due to the awakening of two recent suicides of two Pastors in the church body and the countless lives of innocent people that have lost their lives most recently due to mental health disorders, I want to make a small ripple effect to bring awareness to the urgency of sounding the alarm in my community, locally and abroad.
Over the past 8 years I have worked in the mental health field in a variety of settings and roles. I’ve worked with children, adults in homes, schools and in the community with mental health and substance abuse disorders. I currently hold a Masters degree in Mental Health Counseling and am in pursuit of completing a second Graduate degree in rehabilitation counseling. I’m currently employed by United Youth and Adult Care Services, as the Psychosocial Rehabilitation Director and counselor of a mental health provider in Greensboro, NC. During the last few years I’ve been privileged to enter a multitude of people’s lives some whose mental health has a major impact on their lives and the lives of others whose lives are consumed with depression, distress and dysfunction.
As ordained minister and a mental health professional I am removing the covers to help bring awareness, education and healing to my community locally and abroad. People need to know that mental illness is not segregated, it does not recognize religion, racial, cultural, ethnic or socioeconomic boundaries. I know first-hand the detriments of mental illness that was related to my personal experience with mental illness. In September, 2000 I was diagnosed with major depressive, panic and anxiety disorder. Prior to my diagnosis I suffered in silence like so many, first because I didn’t understand what was happening to me (I thought I was losing my mind) secondly, I feared the shame and stigmatization of being called “crazy” and thirdly, I was a Christian and that was I was dealing with could be handled through prayer and deliverance.
I am a firm believer in my faith, my God and the Word of God. Nevertheless, I understood that God has qualified people in the earth, just like a medical physician that could provide therapeutic healing to those with mental health disorders. Sadly, growing up in the African American community, I was taught therapy was for “white” people and that “black” people didn’t do that- that was so far from the truth. I recall days when I couldn’t get out of bed, days when I thought I was losing my mind and there was no one I could talk too. It wasn’t until I virtually had a nervous breakdown that I sought help for my symptoms and could care less what anybody thought.
There were days I needed medication to sleep and medication to help me function through the day, it was that serious. After months of therapeutic professional counseling and spiritual counseling combined with medication to help decrease the onset of my symptoms, I was able to recover and begin my journey to help educate, inspire and empower others to overcome mental illness, from which my ministry Created To Conquer was born. It wasn’t until I was able to go through my own personal experiences within myself and others that were close to me that I understood the urgency to bring mental health awareness to help others. This was not by any means an overnight proposition. It took much prayer, boldness and confidence to make good out of what could have been a disaster and to tell my testimony, stand tall and openly discuss my personal experience with mental illness so that I could effectively help educate and advocate for others with mental illness and to let them know they were not crazy and that there was hope and help available.