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/