In March of last year, I wrote a little about my post-hospital mental health journey.
Since then, my life has flourished in ways that I could only have imagined once upon a time. And it is, solely, from actively putting myself first- mentally and physically. Up until that point, I had only put my physical self first. I exercised. I stayed busy doing performance after performance and working job after job when I was not on stage. It burnt me out. I was challenged at River Oaks to put my mental health first, and THEN focus on the rest. And in that challenge, I discovered so much about who I truly am....
Who am I?
I am Jessica Mixon. I am a free American woman of color. I like to create. I thrive in creative spaces. I vibe best with artistic masters on all spectrums. I'm an open and honest book. I like when people pick my brain (with my consent). I enjoy exploring what life has to offer.
Who do I care about?
1) I care about my family. A lot of what I do is in representation of them. I cannot wait to get to the point in my life where I can give back to them tenfold as much as they have given to me.
2) I care about my friends. I don't have many close friends. I have a lot of dear friends. I strive to treat them all equally for the sake of keeping any unneeded weight off of my shoulders.
3) I also care for all of the people I don't know and have yet to meet. I say hello to strangers. I acknowledge most of my cat-callers. In the end, they ARE still people and are deserving of acknowledgement, even if they don't treat you the same way *My opinion*.
SO I, BASICALLY, CARE ABOUT EVERYONE.
What has directly changed about you since leaving River Oaks?
I have a much higher understanding about how society has conditioned me to think certain ways about myself that I never wanted to exist in the first place. So having to unlearn all of those things to fully be who I am right now was the ultimate challenge.
What you mean?
My societal conditioning allowed me only to see the perspective of the common human and their wants and needs. I was, basically, following whatever society told me I had to do with my life and how I should respond in X, Y, and Z situations... I never really thought for myself, because I trusted the adults around me to make the decisions for me. And, as a child, that was what was expected anyway. Even when I KNEW some of those decisions were wrong for me, personally, I had no confidence or courage to speak up. I was not taught to do that. That was not how I was raised. There was little room for me to have a say in anything. I lived in a black household and speaking up for yourself (as a child) could get you whooped And that's just how it was til I became of age... Can't whoop an 18 year old... Any who- back on subject.
For all who don't know by now, I went in to the hospital for numerous reasons, but one of the most recent events that prompted my visit was due to my mental rollercoaster that I was experiencing from being cheated on. The revelations that came about with it overloaded my brain to the point of explosion. LITERAL EXPLOSION. Whilst being in the hospital and the few weeks after, I felt numb. My brain was all over the place. "Mentally unstable" was an understatement- to be frank. I toyed with all of the common thoughts most people deal with when the revelation hits them. It took me a little over a year to get over all of that.
What societal norms were giving you issues?
Most of it revolves around the way people are conditioned to conduct their lives:
Find a "Soulmate" -> Date -> Showoff Ring to Facebook Fam -> Wedding Pictures or it Didn't Happen -> Baby Announcement -> Baby #2 Announcement via Baby #1's help (You know what I mean) -> Watch all the babies go through the same life path you took -> Time to Ask Children for Grandchildren -> Retire -> Die Happily from a Successful Marriage
I MIGHT JUST BE A LITTLE SOUR. Or I'm just fed up with observing the same thing happen to everyone over and over again. My brain shifted at that revelation and was more interested in the folks who didn't take the basic life path. I don't shun anyone who wants that for their lives. As all of those things in life are beautiful... I guess. But it's still basic to me. And I choose not to live my entire life that way. When someone reads the story of my life someday.. I want them to be interested in it. I want all kinds of crazy and awesome things to happen. And that's all imma say on that for now. lol BACK ON SUBJECT (AGAIN)-
I toyed with many of the consoling cheating quotes: "once a cheater always a cheater," "you deserve better," "you made your boyfriend/girlfriend stray..." etc. etc. And THEN I looked at the facts. Most MARRIED couples experience cheating in their relationship. I forget the ratio- but 1 and 3 (?) couples end their relationship due to cheating. Soooo something, clearly, ain't workin with the structure of marriage that you've got completely great people sabotaging their relationship because of at least one person's attraction to another human? An attraction that has nothing to do with the person that they have committed emotionally, physically, financially, and legally to. You know what... I can talk about this subject all day... So I'll talk about that later. Let me stay on topic, for the third time.
When did you start feeling better?
I was prescribed Zoloft 100mg in the hospital, and 50 mg once I left. I took it once a day. I remember not being able to feel whilst in the hospital. The meds keep me pretty neutral.. "Like a Zombie," as I liked to put it back then. So neutral to the point that the one family member and friend who visited me would be emotionally tearing up in front of me, and I could not reciprocate their feelings. Their emotions didn't affect me. One of the reasons I was admitted into the hospital in the first place was because the emotions of others would always affect me to the point where I could not focus on myself at all. I took the burdens of others and placed them on myself constantly. I became depressed and suicidal because of that (...and because of my living situation.) Knowing I could do better for my life and not physically being able to because of the mental block that told me that I had to achieve my goals the "common" way.
The Zoloft helped me remain neutral and calm in situations that would normally work me up. It allowed me to assess the situation without emotion, which was great. It kept me grounded and able to make more educated and thoughtful decisions. It also helped with my memory. I found myself not being as forgetful while I was on it. I also found that my voice was less strained. I was able to phonate notes that my body would normally take more energy to produce. Lastly, my workouts were less tiring and more effective whilst on it. Zoloft had its perks, but I was aware, from the beginning, that I could not rely on it to live the rest of my life. It was there as an aid. Not a solution. I know that's not the case for everyone... but I have to put that out there in case someone is toying with getting prescribed any kind of medicine that alters your train of thought.
Today, I don't take Zoloft everyday, but I do take it when I know I will be in stressful situations such as work, a pending argument, or an important meeting that I have to stay focused for. Other than that, it's just there chillin until I need it again. I have been able to turn my entire life around because of this medicine that the situations that I needed this medicine for no longer exist.
I am mentally free. I have achieved that through putting myself first before anyone else. I know myself so well... that I will only be adding decorations to myself at this point. I've built a house for myself, within myself. Now I can personalize myself and make myself a home.
I often hear from 30-somethings and beyond that one usually does not really know themselves until they are in their 30s. I beg to differ but I've also always been an older soul, so I'm coming to these revelations much sooner than many my age... *Kanye shrug*
I'm gonna end here so that y'all can read all of these words that I've compiled. And if you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact me here or elsewhere. Again, I'm an open book. There is literally nothing I won't chime in on. TRUST ME.
If you or someone you care about are in need of services to nurture your mental health in the New Orleans area. Here are some links to some services that can help you begin that process:
Google - "Mental Health Services New Orleans"
My Alma Mater has a new service- Loyola Center for Counseling Education
National Alliance on Mental Health - www.nami.org/find-support/diverse-communities/african-americans
River Oaks Hospital - https://riveroakshospital.com/
...And I, honestly, couldn't be happier.
It was a tough Mardi Gras season for me. I've reflected a lot on why this one was more tough than it has been in the past and I came to the realization that I don't respond well to the stress it causes when I have to work during this time of year. I get so anxious and I, unintentionally, start to lose my brain cells. Literally.
See - I was born and raised NOLA. And it's more often than not that I will meet people or work with people who haven't been to Mardi Gras before. Soooo Mardi Gras is, precisely, the time where folks (usually folks not from NOLA originally) take off or don't show up to work. OR it takes, what normally is ten minutes, three hours to get to work because traffic is impossible. For both of my jobs this was a common discrepancy. It just added a lot of stress to an already stressful situation. Top that off with hangry guests and understaffing because employees don't show up, and you have a hot mess. And an anxious Jessica because of all of those reasons. SPEAKING OF ANXIETY---
I was also reminded of the stress I was under this time last year: I remembered how I went into the hospital for a week for anxiety, depression, and PTSD. It's amazing how much my life has changed since then. And I'm still overwhelmed and grateful for all of the support and love I have received since leaving and, basically, beginning a new lifestyle. Not that my old lifestyle was not healthy, but that experience helped me along in what I needed to do to get me out of the rut I was in.
One year later... I am, finally, able to say that I am financially and wholeheartedly independent on me, myself, and I. I can now answer to myself and work on my goals in a space that I call my own. My art is flourishing because I, now, have time to brainstorm my own ideas and create projects.
Since Mardi Gras is over, I will be able to dedicate more time to those projects so I can share them with all of you. But until then, I will continue to create more content for my Youtube page. Jmixplains has become a therapeutic outlet for me to share important elements of my life with an audience who is appreciative of my journey so far. It's easy to judge someone by what the world knows them to be... and I know that I carry a specific image from my respective job and for the roles I have played on various stages in the past. Most people know me from those stages I have entertained them on... and I want to make sure that they get to know the person who motivated herself to get on those stages in the first place.
With that being said--- let me go write this draft for my next episode.
[ALL OF THE ABOVE PHOTOS WERE TAKEN WITHIN THE LAST 6 MONTHS]
I guess it is about that time to address the elephant in the room, the problem amongst several fellow pro-black acquaintances, the controversial oxymoron that keeps them from taking me seriously, and that is:
My choice to wear colored contacts (every now and then).
Have you ever gone window shopping and spotted something that you wanted to try on? But the store was closed, even though the store hours said they were open on Google. TURNS OUT the store only opened for white customers and there was a sensor that would automatically "close" the store every time a black person came within 50ft of the store entrance....
In my case, that something I spotted was colored contacts. According to society, there is something wrong with that. Something wrong with me. I MUST have some deeply rooted self-hatred for my natural eye color- which is brown, by the way. I am not allowed to go into the store because society says I, as a pro-blacktivist, should not.
*And if there is one thing I am getting sick of... it is being categorized in order to meet someone else(in this case, society)'s expectations.
Yet, if a white individual decides to rock colored contacts for whatever reason, even if there was none, no one would bat an eye. Think about it. When has a white person ever changed their eye color (OR hair color), and society give them a hard time for it? [And don't even think about mentioning Rachel Dolezal because she, allegedly, does not claim her societal identity. I do. ]
I recently dyed my hair for the first time ever because I, simply, wanted to try something new. It had been 26 consistent years of my hair being in the same state- and if you know anything about me, I love trying out different styles and seeing myself in different abstracts. My hair will grow back. SUPER THICK. I already have future plans to chop off all my hair again and rock platinum blonde, a host of other colors, and a plethora amount of fabulous cuts. I want to experiment. It's my hair. Keyword: MY
No one seems to have a problem with me dying my hair, but my EYE COLOR? I might as well get my pro-black card revoked! I treat my colored contacts like I treat my clothes; a piece of style that I have chosen in order to accentuate what I already have.
...AND, for the record- I ADORE my brown eyes! I appreciate them so much more now that I have the option to rock other colors. I love switching it up. "If the opportunity is out there, why not?" I say.
WHEN WILL WE NORMALIZE BLACK FOLKS HAVING THE FREEDOM OF CHOICE TO DO WHATEVER THEY WANT WITHOUT REPERCUSSION?
Let's work on that, Pro-black community. Because I think we have differing definitions on what it means to be "Pro-black."
My motivation to create art is fueled by a multitude of outlets stemming from my yearning to escape the confines of my childhood. Going to a private catholic school where majority of the classmates were better off than I made me realize at a very young age what I was deprived of. I always knew there was better for me out there, but that I did not have the resources to attain it (yet). One of the biggest things I can recall is not being able to do is 1) attend summer camp like the girls on The Parent Trap 2) attend gymnastics classes so I could learn how to perform floor routines like the gymnasts I watched on TV.
(To this day, I have yet to learn how to do a back-handspring/back-flip but I'm not gonna lose hope just yet.)
Music was my escape from reality. In the summer, I would have nothing to do but find something to occupy my time at home. I would use the piano to create a song, and then embellish it throughout the summer. As I got older and "CD players" because popular, I would burn discs with my favorite songs on them and dance in the mirror for hours pretending I was in a bomb music video. I literally danced til I got sleepy and fell asleep. You couldn't tell me nothing. I was on cloud nine. So my lack of earlier resources fuels my art in ways that only become apparent when I feel deprived.
Seeing others achieve refuels me as well. I love and appreciate watching creatives use their gifts to fuel the planet- whether it be through a picture, a song, a dance, a structure, a poem, a concept, a costume- it's all art in it's own right. And deserves to be appreciated and recognized as such.
Check out my latest video below as I elaborate more on what fuels my art.
AND DON'T FORGET TO SUBSCRIBE =)
I'm dedicating 2019 to y'all getting to know all about me, one video at a time.