Name: Lois B.
Occupation: Clinical Social Worker
Tell us your story:
My childhood had ups and downs but from the age of 5 mostly ups. I was a joyful child who had a lot of friends. And even though there weren’t many black kids in my town, I felt accepted and loved. One day when I was 10 my dad went to jail for a reason I didn’t understand. Not for one night but for three months. My mom who suffered her own mental illness didn’t cope well. She left all hours of the day looking for a “job”, brought strange people to the house, and on top of that didn’t cook or anything. I remember trying to teach myself to cook rice but it was mushy and eating a bag of $1 chips for dinner. My dad was my rock…our rock. He cooked, combed my hair, helped me with homework, etc so his absence was very rough for us. I remember failing class after being an A/B student and kids not being allowed to play with me because I “smelled” or they heard a rumor my dad went to jail. I remember feeling alone and not wanting to live. Then one day my angel aka my grandma somehow found out my dad was gone. She came over and my mom refused to let her in. I still remember my grandma crying outside the door. I don’t know how but they got an ambulance to take her to a mental hospital to get treatment. Then I left all my things to move in with my grandma. It was a difficult adjustment. The whole situation was confusing. Was my dad coming back? Where is my mom? What happened to all my toys in my room? No one would answer my questions and that’s where my anxiety started. As I got older it manifested to panic attacks. Sitting for dinner would trigger a memory of having no food and feeling alone/depressed. As much as I would fight it and tell myself I’m safe, loved, and not alone…I never believed it. From age 11 to 25 I was insecure, anxious, and confused. Not until I made the decision to be a clinical social worker. I wanted to be in the mental health field because I wanted to understand my past and finally heal. Through my classes I learned my mother’s mental illness and mine. Through therapy I learned how to heal. It’s taken over 10 years and I’m not fully recovered…sometimes the panic attacks and old triggers come back but now I know why and I embrace it because it’s part of my story. It’s what makes me who I am. I’m a better friend, wife, and mom from it.
What advice would you give another woman who is going through a similar experience?
Get therapy and don’t be afraid of sharing your story. It takes time to heal. It may take longer than 5, 10, or 20 years but trust the process. One day you’re gonna look back and smile at the growth you made. Also learn what helps you to stay calm and peaceful. And if it doesn’t work, don’t give up keep learning and working at it.