“You are smart…you are enough.”

I was recently presented with an opportunity to work alongside a cohort of professionals on one of my organization’s internal projects. We’re in the very early stages of this project, where the foundation is being laid. Key questions are being asked and the work that is fundamental to the identity of this project is being executed.

As with any project, the work is being divvied. My friend drew the lucky straw of drafting a few statements to represent the groups purpose.

After reading these statements, I was left a bit perplexed. Thesaurus-laden buzzwords and corporate jargon had drowned out the message. I asked my friend to rewrite the statements in plain English. Though she knew I had good intentions, she was offended.

I wanted her to see that her message, the one she believed in, the one without the colorful language was enough. Adding colorful language not only took away from the message, but it made the reader work harder. In fact, I had to read the statements more than once to deduce what was being said. And in the end I was still confused and frankly, frustrated.

But this also created a great opportunity for feedback. While, my colleague wasn’t happy with my feedback, I had the opportunity to follow up with what was in my heart.

My feedback had less to do with the message and a million times more to do with what I believed, and what she needed to believe, about herself.

I had an opportunity to tell her that she was smart and that she didn’t need to rely on anyone else to tell her that. She didn’t need the “extras” to impress anyone. Simply being who she was was enough. And when she delivers her message from her heart, that would be enough.

I had an opportunity to tell her that she was, and is, enough.

 

 

Affirmation

Today, I repeat this message to you. You are enough. Give yourself the gift of relaxing the security of who you are. Stop trying to outfit yourself with the proverbial colorful layers — fancy clothes, an extensive vocabulary, multiple degrees, or the pursuit of the seemingly “perfect life” — to gain the approval of others or even yourself. Don’t water down the magnitude of who you are. Be you.

The Bible says that you were fearfully and wonderfully made. Who am I to disagree with God?

Take off those layers. Life is a lot lighter and much clearer without them.

Until next Wednesday,

RP

Tell someone they are enough.

Share this message and tag them in it. I can’t wait to hear how you’ve made a positive impact on their life. Be sure to add the hashtag #beaffirmed on IG, Twitter, and FB so I can see how you’re inspiring others.

ON THE SOCIAL MEEDS…

Follow me on IG and Facebook to get itermmitent affirmations

Instagram: instagram.com/affirmeddesignns_reginap
Facebook: facebook.com/affirmeddesignsrrp

 

Depression is a sneaky little creature. It often creeps up out of no where and what you thought depression looked like is totally different than what you, a friend, or a loved one is experiencing. And that makes it even harder to determine.

Round 1: My aunt’s passing

My depression story started years ago. It was the summer between my 7th and 8th grade year, and I lost the first close person to me, my aunt. This was REALLY hard. Initially, I didn’t think I was affected at all. But then the symptoms began to arise. I began to cry all the time. I didn’t want to hang with my friends. And I was super afraid of dying. This had become my number one fear. I’m sure being the recipient of the call stating she died and suppressing my feelings didn’t help. Add to that hearing the details of her final moments at the age of 12 wasn’t easy either.

Her final moments passed through my head constantly, and at night I was sure I was having shortness of breath and about to see my last day. I often stood at the brink of my parents’ bedroom door telling my mom how scared I was and how I thought I was having shortness of breath. It was a very traumatizing experience.

I remember my dad coming to offer me comfort, but nothing really worked. He offered to take me to her grave site. I didn’t want to go. And yet, I just couldn’t snap out of it.

Then one day my mom suggested I go visit my best friend. She was my next door neighbor. She had no clue what was going on, but it was the best medicine ever. Simply being with someone – and in this case faking like there was nothing wrong was the beginning of a cure. In fact, it was almost an instant cure.

The pain and depression didn’t go away instantly. The beginning of my eight grade year still saw sorrow, but somehow, I snapped out of it. It was like the time heals all things thing. But did it?

Round 2: College days

My days at Michigan State were great. Fake the funk. Showtime at the Aud. Gospel choir. Great roommates and floormates. And yes, even the partied. And on top of this, I was at the top of the class. I pulled a 3.89 my first semester, and didn’t drop below a 3.5 GPA per semester. Well, that was until depression reared it’s ugly head again.

It all started with a thought that freaked me out. I mean seriously freaked me out.

It was during Winter break. I think I was in the shower when I had the thought. And even though I knew it wasn’t true, I couldn’t shake it.

That was the beginning of my anxiety. It scared me. I would be an outcast if anyone ever knew that I had this thought. I told one person – my mom, my one and only confidante to that degree. She was there for me. Patient with me. That was the moment that I knew that if I didn’t trust anyone else in life, I could trust my mom – and that was for anything. We may not always agree, but she would ALWAYS have my best interest in mind (even if that’s slightly obscured with what she THINKs may be my best interest, but I digress.)

Though my mom was there and would be there consistently – and we knew my thoughts were a lie, it didn’t go away. Instead, the anxiety got worse, resulting in OCD, panic and anxiety attacks, and loss of focus. I couldn’t focus on my work. Getting out of bed was hard at days. In fact, making decisions was just downright painful. And with this dreadful sickness came a quick plummet to my grades to the point that simply by looking at my report cards, you can tell the EXACT semester the depression kicked in.

Mental Illness aren’t the Same as Physical, Right?

I didn’t want to go to the doctor. I didn’t want to see what was wrong with me. I thought it was against God’s will. Mental issues aren’t the same as physical, right? You know if you don’t feel good physically to go to the doctor. But if you are potentially suffering from a mental illness, many often discourage going to the doctor. This can be one of biggest mistakes and can truly mean the different between life and death.

Mental illnesses can kill you just as much as high blood pressure can. In fact, stress can lead to high blood pressure, cancer, and suicide – all things that can lead to death. People don’t cut just for the sake of it. People don’t jump off buildings because they thought they could fly. And they don’t slit wrists because they want to sport a war wound.

No. They want the pain and agony to go away. If they thought they had another option, maybe they would think again, but they feel hopeless. Anxiety day after day, month after month, and year after year is not the life I envisioned. If you’ve never had a panic attack before, you’d never know how debilitating something like that can be. In fact, I got so good at them, I had the ability have silent attacks right in front of people and they had no clue it was happening.

…But I Survived

The diagnosis & Prescriptions

Though I didn’t want to go to the doctor, there was a point it became a bit too much. The school therapist was a flop. My trip to a different doctor was almost a joke, mainly because on that day I didn’t “look” like I was depressed. Then she gave me the test. To her surprise only, the results stated I was in fact depressed.

Now what?

Pills. The ones that zoned me out. Not like Xanax or anything. I can’t really describe how I felt. All I know is that one day I didn’t take them, and I felt better. I felt happy. So I said to heck with these pills. But just like other times, the happiness was only temporary.

The depression read it’s head again, and I really needed hep.

It took a while for me to see a doc again, but during the summer after my senior year, I walked back into the doctor’s office ready to get better. And he diagnosed me with what I thought was the cure all to everything, Paxil.

You Have to Work with Your Doctor

Paxil worked great for years. However, due to side effects, I chose to try different meds. Many didn’t work. I became sick from some. One gave me the hiccups and zoned me out. One even had a side effect of anxiousness. Ummm….isn’t that what I was being treated for. Duh?!I’ve had a diagnosis that I didn’t agree with and more. (Please know yourself before you just tell the doctor, “no I don’t agree with this).
While I know I’m not perfect today I’ve found a treatment that sustains. Add that to the will to not let the disease overcome me, and I do pretty good. Not as good as on Paxil, but since I don’t want that Paxil weight (a 60 lb. gain)…I’ll make the sacrifice.

Having the Will to Live & Taking Control

Living with and surviving depression is not an easy thing. In fact, I live with it AND survive it every day. Anxiety is present often. I get tired A LOT. And there are days where the alternative seems like it may be better. However, I have the will to live.

I know depression, anxiety, fear and panic are all lies from Satan. And though I may be on meds, I know where my REAL strength comes from. I know who will never leave me nor forsake me. I know who blesses me with wisdom telling me it’s time to sit/slow down, ensuring I don’t become too overwhlemed.

God has blessed me to have this story. To tell it to others. And to inspire those who may feel downtrodden. I’m confident this journey wasn’t just for me. I know there are others who have been and will continue to be blessed by my words…but not my words, but by the words of the One who lives in me.

While I’m not thankful for the sickness (being real), I am thankful for the opportunity to help, to inspire and to use my story to draw others closer to Christ. While some may say it’s brutal He allows me to go through it, I’ll say His grace is sufficient. He DIED for me. DIED…stabbed, ridiculed, whipped, crowned with thorns. I only have a little mental distress in comparison. So even in the midst, I thank and appreciate God for this challenge, growth, and the ability to use it for HIS good. I am and will continue to be HIS child. And for that I praise him. (Praise break…lol)

Conclusion

Depression sucks. It really does. However, having a relationship with Christ and taking appropriate steps to manage/alleviate it are both essential for survival. The Bible says we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against power and principalities in high places. While medicine is a physical step for me, I NEVER forget the spiritual medicine and strength either.

Until next time, I wish you much spiritual prosperity.

Making the decision to take the firs step on your weight loss journey can be a hard one – mainly because it’s surrounded with a ton of excuses that keep you in mental jail. This leads to perpetual body image and self-esteem issues. And if there is anything that doesn’t feel good, it’s being in a self-imposed mental jail. And even though this post is focused on weight loss, being in a self-imposed mental jail can result from a ton of things – absent parents, lack of encouragement, bullies -pretty much anything leading up to you saying “I can’t.”

However, we have to know that we have the control. And not because we have control on our own, but the Bible has told us that we are victorious over ALL things. So it doesn’t matter what momma said, daddy said, grandma called you, or even your ex told you. You have the ability to be victorious. It’s up to you to claim your victory. This even means victory over weight issues.

I’m not saying your transformation will come like mine, but I will say that it can come if you remove the excuse and make the decision.

When it comes to taking that first step or even sticking to your program, whatever that may be, there are a ton of self-imposed walls you run into. If any of these sound like you and you’re suffering from a mental jail of not loving all things about yourself, it’s time to make a change. When it comes to weight loss, here are common excuses and my counter:

  • I’d have to give up XXX. No you don’t. You just have to limit how much of it you eat. I was a candy freak. I still eat candy. Just not nearly as much. I eat Burger King maybe weekly – just instead of a whopper junior and larger size fries, I eat a cheeseburger, value size fries, and a diet coke.
  • My mom cooks for me. If you have a job and are in an age range where you are permitted to cook, buy your own food and cook it.
  • My family isn’t going to want to make the changes. Cook one thing for your family and something else for yourself. Or make recipes you can portion off easily and just ensure you’re eating smaller portions and balanced meals.
  • I’ve tried healthy choices and they don’t work. Take a look at what you’re eating. Some things we think are healthy can be very fattening. (i.e. granola, smoothies, etc.) Try only all natural smoothies and even eliminate the yogurt, orange juice, etc.
  • I work my butt off. I’ve learned 80% of weight loss is about what you eat while the other 20%. I get it. After working out you’re super hungry. Have a low-fat snack around to stop that snack attack. I also have a friend who prepares meals at the beginning of the week. This way, when she’s done with her workout, she has food already waiting on her.
  • I don’t have money for a gym. Work out at home. When the weather permits, workout outside. Take a walk, jog, do hills at the local park, find a trail. Get a basketball hoop and play right in your own driveway. No hoop? Simply dribble for a while.
  • I don’t have workout equipment. Use what you have. Turn on some music and just dance. Dancing is a great workout. Plus you can do crunches, push ups, planks, lunges, squats, wall sits, jumping jacks and so much more right at your house. And if you have any workout videos, don’t forget to whip those out as well.
  • I don’t want to mess my hair up. If you have a relaxer and a wrap, tie it up and let it dry before unwrapping it. If you don’t have a relaxer, consider wearing braids or your natural hair texture. Or try putting it into a bun with a headband holding your edges down.
  • I don’t want to offend the people who cooked. Choose what you can off the menu, and respectfully say no to the other things. Maybe even explain why you’re saying no.
  • People bring treats into work all the time. They don’t force you to eat it. Pass it up. If you tell them why, and they still try to encourage you, stay strong. They’ll eventually understand.

Finally, DON’T CONSIDER IT GOING ON A DIET. If you do, expect the weight to return. It’s about healthy choices and a lifestyle change. However, just take it day by day and celebrate the small wins. There is no way I really thought I was going to lose as much as I did. Though, after seeing the success, I was and continued to stay encouraged.

I am in no way form or fashion a health freak. However, I am about making better choices and trying to be the best you possible.

My biggest observation is that this debate is a reflection of class, respect, and experience. We all have different experiences and there seems to be a lack of understanding of those with different experiences and backgrounds. However, as citizens of America, we have to do better. We have to do better opening our minds to those around us. We have to take the time to ask questions and get to know the experience of others. And we have to respect each others experiences. When we do that, we can learn from one another. This is the only way we are going to get there.

This is not a race thing. It’s bigger. “It’s a human thing,” as I once heard someone say.

Maybe I have the ability to have an open mind because I know what its like to struggle. To hear shootings in the wee hours of the night. To have a home I was embarrassed to bring friends to. To have family members and peers injured and killed due to violence. To cry because I didn’t understand why my brother was able to be raised by his dad and I didn’t know where my dad was. To know that my mom didn’t eat because she made sure her family ate first.

But then I know what it’s like to be encouraged. What it’s like to taste something different. To, due to the many people around me, be exposed to so much more.

I know what it’s like to have a village surrounding me and encouraging me. Those who weren’t always condescending. Those who provided direction even when it didn’t feel good or when it went against the grain. But, even then, those who encouraged and allowed me to be myself and find myself and be strong in who I was.

Because of this village, I am now able to sow back into the lives of others. I am a statistic – one who if the numbers were to tell, would not be a college graduate. Instead, I would for sure be an alcoholic repeating the cycle of lower class living. But thanks to the village, given by the grace of God, I had a different outcome.

Statistics are only numbers. They have the ability to change. We, as a society, can be that change.

Regardless of the outcome of the debate, I’m calling for us to be that village. Those who take a children, teens and even our peers r and help them achieve ultimate excellence. Those who are willing to look beyond where they are, and instead, help them get to where they could be. Those who are willing to tell someone, “you are someone,” and that their quirkyness, high sense of fashion, or nerdiness is absolutely okay because there is a place for everyone.