I am enough. I am strong. I am a survivor.
I am brought to tears every time I recite that mantra. Tears of joy of how far I have come from being in a place of not believing in those words. Because I am so joyful, many would assume that I have never known such a place. A place so dark that every morning I thought my only options were to live a miserable life or to just end it all.
Feeling less than began early in life for me. I grew up with an addict who’s only affirmations were everything that I would not be and everything negative that I would be. During school hours, instead of looking forward to playing with barbies and baking cookies in the afternoon; I anxiously worried about what that evenings nightmare consisted of. Being raised in an environment with an alcoholic causes you to grow up fast. Growing fast in a nightmare that never ended caused me to believe that I would never be ENOUGH, and life was nothing more than the cards I had been dealt. Hello, Anxiety.
Later in life, I discovered that my father who raised me was not my biological father. I went Eighteen years of my life before my mother shared this information and instantly I developed abandonment issues. I thought to myself, “What a horrible baby I was for my birth father not to want me”. It hurt more after finding that side of my family on Facebook and witnessing beautiful family photos full of smiles. Years later, I developed this thought that love equaled sex and gave myself physically just to feel that “love”. That season of life also presented me to my first experience of being sexually assaulted. I felt that I was not STRONG enough to avoid that situation and that I deserved it. Hello Depression.
Twenty-something years of life is very young, yet I had experienced a series of events of someone doubled my age. Years of childhood trauma, rejection, low self-esteem, being bullied, and toxic relations had really taken its toll. That dark place consumed my life. Though there were many that loved me, their presence was not felt in that place. I had days that I was so depressed that I would do anything to feel something. Some days I was so anxious that I would go to extremes to feel nothing. By the age of twenty-three, I had many occasions of suicidal thoughts and had acted on it once. I SURVIVED.
I finally plateaued. I felt nothing. One day, a positive childhood memory came to mind. It was a hymn. Amazing grace, how sweet the sound. That saved a wretch like me. I once was lost, but now I am found. Was blind but now I see. I remember hearing that in a small children’s church and how happy it made me felt. I instantly began to see a little light. The strength to want to feel joy began to take over. Although it did not happen overnight, my ability to seek solace in my faith healed many open wounds.
I created Lotus Bloom at the age of twenty-six. The Lotus flower grows in murky waters but yet it blooms into such a beautiful flower. I saw myself in the Lotus. Lotus Bloom has been a platform for me to advocate the importance of self-care and mental wellness. I am transparent and vocal in my testimony because in the black community, mental illness “does not exist”. We’re raised to suppress those emotions and are deemed “crazy” if those feelings related to mental illness are expressed. I want to break that silence in all communities.
My purpose has been to end the stigma associated with mental health. I want to tell the world that there are ways to fight this battle without drugs, sex, or self-harm. To anyone in that dark place:
– You are ENOUGH, you are STRONG, and You will SURVIVE this.
- Noel Hatcher, LOTUS BLOOM @lotusbloom.llc