Wednesday, December 17, 2014

When it Hurts...Depression Suicide and Mental Illness

I woke up yesterday morning to some very sad news.  Titi Branch co-owner of the wildly popular and very successful Miss Jessie’s Natural Hair Care line had succumbed to an apparent suicide at the age of 45.  Although I didn’t know Ms. Titi personally, her transition rocked my spirit. It is never easy to hear that someone took their own life.  

With this tragic death and the suicide of Robin Williams, I thought it would be fitting to talk about my own personal story.  It is hard for me to speak on this because I carry with me such shame.  I am a child of God after all.  I grew up in church.  I am not supposed to have suicidal thoughts.  Well, today I pushing back my shame  so someone else will be touched and seek out help or go help someone.  

In 2006, I was attending grad school in Alabama; I ran away from my problems.  I was getting a fresh start.  After all no one in Alabama knew I had been fired from my job, rejected from my church,  slept with my best friend’s man, and the love of my life was engaged to marry someone else.  I could be a new woman. I could wipe the slate clean.  After a few months in Alabama, the person I was running away from caught up with me.  I begin to cry all the time.  I was so sad and lonely.  I couldn't tell my mom or family because I didn't want to worry them.  I would go home to visit them and put on my happy face. I would laugh and enjoy myself but on the drive back to school, I would cry and have suicidal thoughts. what if I just drove off the side of this mountain? Would anybody find me?  I wonder what it would feel like to die.  Thank-God something in me would shake those thoughts from my mind. 
TiTi Branch  Co-owner of Ms. Jessie's
photo credit:

I remember one day I was in my apartment and the suicidal thoughts were so strong in my head.  I was crying uncontrollably.  I remember picking up the knife and crying out to God if you love me, PROVE IT!  At that very moment, my phone rang. It was my daddy calling me. He said, “The Holy Spirit told me to call you”. He said he was sitting in class and felt like something was wrong.  I lied and told him everything was ok, but I was inwardly praising God for that phone call. I realize that I mattered to someone. 

I know how it feels to put on a happy face but dying on the inside. You hope that one somebody will actually see behind the plastered smile and really ask how you are doing.   You wish people would stop seeing you as strong, independent, and anointed but for once see the person behind the anointing.  You want them to see the real you. You want to be vulnerable and the perception of how you perceive people view you keeps you from being vulnerable. 

I have never called a help line…at the time of my depression, I didn't know they were available. I refuse to take any medicine because of the stigma attached to them. I sought out wise counseling. I began to write in my journal more frequently.  I found a friend who would listen to me without judgment.  When I find myself getting depress now, I make sure I surround myself with people who love me.  I openly express to them my feelings.  I found an outlet in writing. My writing has become a life saver. 

This is my story, but I know there are millions of other stories out there. Maybe, you have a similar story.  Suicide and mental illness are real. They know no boundaries. They cross racial, economic, and social line.  Mental illness is a painting with many faces.  We have a responsibility and duty to learn more about how to prevent suicide and recognize depression in our love ones.   We must check-up on love ones  and be willing to listen to their story without judgment.  We must  learn our triggers and be willing to raise our hands to say, “Hey I need help”.  We have to learn how to look past a person talents, gifts and money  to see the human in them.  Can you recognize the sadness behind the smile? Are you in tune well enough with a love to know when they are out of sync?

I have to ask myself these very same questions.  I've learned the grass is not always greener on the other side nor am I the only person going through something.  There are many lessons to learn from these two people and my story.  I am still learning mine.  The greatest lesson I’ve learned is God is real and take one day at a time.

Friday, December 12, 2014

T-shirts, Fashion, Fierce & Feminine, & everything else PHATabulous

Hey Everyone

Co-owner of PSC Kelly Bronner sharing a
laugh with Christina Murray
I know my last post was Thanksgiving, but I have been working on some great things.  For the last 6 months, I have been working hard on laying the foundation for PHATSkinny Chic.  It is my dream for it to be a global brand on promoting Health Fitness and Fashion for the real size woman. A part of building my dream is establishing a T-shirt line.  I have several designs that I have tried putting to market going many different avenues, but they just didn't pan out for me.  I decided to pull back and go back to the basics. Instead of rushing things, I realized slow and steady works for me.  It's a saying the bible that says “Don’t Despise Small Beginnings”.  I am learning that starting small is good and I should rejoice in the small successes. 

This past weekend I was able to celebrate with my friend and sorority sister (S/O to Zeta Phi Beta) Karla Beedles.  She launched her business coaching & consulting business with the event Fierce and Feminine.  Fashion Stylist Shun Melson and Make-up artist MiMi J were guest speakers at the event.  They gave great tips on fashion, make-up & branding.  I truly enjoyed myself at the event.  I even got a chance to speak with Ms.Melson and gave her a PHATSkinny Chic Tee.  Hopefully, she will rock it soon.  She was great and encouraging.  I'm definitely going to be working on upgrading my fashion game with her tips.
Myself, Shun Melson, and co-owner of PSC Kelly Bronner

Tips From Shun Melson:

  • Tip # 1 Invest in a good Tailor.  
  • Plus Size Tips #2: Invest in good undergarments. 
  • For my Tall sisters Tip #3: Shop in the Men’s section for shirts and pants then get it Tailored to fit your body.  Men shirts and pants will give the length that is need for your Statuesque body.

As You can tell I had an amazing time. This was PHATSkinny Chic first time being a Vendor. We plan on going to many more events in 2015. PHATSkinny Chic is on a mission to promote Health Fitness and Fashion for the real size woman.  
Franny J (Mom) is always posing for the Camera!