February 5th, 2019 is a date that I will remember forever….
At this time, Beauty Decoded had been pretty inactive. What was first therapeutic and gave me a sense of meaning, became tiresome and so mundane. I began to doubt myself. I began to question the whole reasoning of me even starting Beauty Decoded. Yes, it was healing in the sense that it allowed me get a grasp on my emotions and feelings and shed light on some truly amazing women that I have come into contact with, but what was the end goal? What was I TRULY doing it for? As I started to get tangled in my own webs of self-doubt, it deterred me from even wanting to post anymore. I went from posting almost weekly, to not posting at all. It started to feel forced and impure. How could something that once brought me so much joy and excitement, now bring me anguish and anxiety? What seemed so clear before, now felt like it served no purpose.
This is bigger than me…
I like to think of myself as an “agent of change.” I genuinely want to see the best for each child, as well as their families, that I come in contact with working for Juvenile Probation. I serve a diverse population, but majority of the youth are African American males. Now working in Probation, you hear and see a lot. And even though they say leave work at work, sometimes it’s easier said than done. This one night in particular, I couldn’t let go of the fact that one of my old kids, Tyler*, was fighting for his life and things were looking very grim. Yes, he made some poor decisions, but no mother deserves to even have to think about burying their child. Even though the situation was already awful, there was another young man, Brandon*, that was involved. No he didn’t shoot Tyler. They were friends. Brandon watched as some monster performed a heinous crime on someone that he to as a brother. Brandon held his friend while help arrived. Worried days and nights in juvie on whether or not Tyler would even make it. To make the situation worse, if Tyler didn’t make it, Brandon would be charged with his death. Here we have this 17 year old, who practically watched his friend die, and not only will this image constantly play in his head, he has to worry about possibly facing murder charges too. How much more can a kid take? At that moment, I put myself in his shoes. I know for a fact that there is so much trauma in that one moment alone, and not to mention everything else a young, black kid, goes through on the Westside of Dayton, Ohio, and I instantly thought; how many other people have encountered this much trauma without talking about it? It made me think of what my coworker told me about one of our other kids, and how he couldn’t even act out a hypothetical scenario where a friend was hurt without being engulfed in rage because this is his every day life. He’s angry. He’s mad and honestly, I understand why. This made me think about how for centuries; African American’s have dealt with so much trauma, pain and adversity. With such a negative stigma on mental health and reaching out for help when it’s needed, it gets bottled up and forced to think that this suffering that we endure on a day to day basis is simply just, life. In 2018 alone, there were 6.8 million African Americans who had a diagnosable mental illness. 6.8 MILLION! And that’s when it hit me; Beauty Decoded is bigger than me. There’s a real need in the African American community to shed light on mental health and the stigmas surrounding it.“Our story may be hard to decode, but there’s still beauty in it.”
On February 5th, 2019, I found my purpose. I found something that I had already been so passionate about and found a way to make it more than just about me; but about my community. I am proud to be an African American woman and even more proud to say that I’m not afraid to ask for help. I want to be able to encourage and inspire whoever, man or woman, that may need a little nudge or simply don’t know where to start in seeking the help they need. Beauty Decoded will now focus on topics and other pressing issues relating to mental health in the Black community. This includes articles, events, and so much more that I am so excited to share with all of you. I know that this journey to inner peace and mental stability has its turns and obstacles, and sometimes it’s hard to truly find the beauty in some parts of the story, but regardless of the past and what’s on the horizon to come, there is still beauty in all of it. It’s just our job to decode it.
Below you’ll find a list of helpful articles we’ve compiled. Each link will open a new tab.