On this day, three years ago, my life changed... forever.
At the time, I was a bubbly college student and journalism hopeful with the world at her fingertips. I'd just gotten an internship at Kontrol Magazine, and doors were opening left and right. My shell of shyness had begun to crack, happiness covered me from my head to my toes, and I was living. Living freely and excited for the future. I was a ball of light, until the evening of January 30th, 2016, when my light seemingly dimmed.
I remember being home, beating my face and bumping some music. My sister was knocking at my bedroom door, debating on going out to get food, and my mother was somewhere around the house. Probably clipping coupons or watching TV. Either way, we were all in our own elements, doing the usual.
While my sister, Brianna, continued to ramble, an unforgettable smell flew up my nose. It was the smell of fire. A smell that won't ever leave my memory. Frightened, we became alarmed and alerted my mother, who was now in the restroom. My mother being the optimist that she is, she didn't realize the severity of what was happening, but something in my gut told me that we needed to get out. And fast. Popping noises liberated from the laundry room, and it almost sounded as if we were walking the perimeter of a built-up volcano about to explode. Get out. You have to get out. That's what my mind kept telling me. So, I did. We did. I yelled merciless, mentally praying that my mother and sister would be following behind me.
Soon, we were all out on the curb, bonnets visible and pajamas flowing, as we watched one half of our home go up in flames. Flames that rapidly traveled through the rest of it. 911 was called, but by the time the firetrucks and fighters did show up, there was really nothing left to fight. They put out what was still going, and we relocated to a hotel. A hotel that we stayed in for nearly two weeks, with little to no food to feed our faces, bath cloths to wash our backs, or threads to pull over our heads. For the first time in my life, I was homeless. If it wasn't for the help from family and friends, I don't know where we would've been. They helped as much as they could, but there's only so much assistance one could give.
Funds were limited. I was a struggling student who didn't even have enough income coming in to consider moving out of my mother's place, and my sister was in the same boat. I ended up dropping out of school, and the job I had at Kontrol had become too overwhelming to keep. Thankfully, our landlord was gracious enough to put us into a temporary trailer. One that we stayed in for what felt like forever but was only a few months. It was torture, but we were grateful for the small space that we did have. Around May or June of that same year, 2016, things were finally coming back together, though. Life was starting to feel normal again.
We moved... once more. This time, into a new house. We'd lost so much in the fire but gained triple the amount. I'd gotten a new writing position at Parlé Magazine, and my dreams were coming true! I was interviewing big names and really getting my foot in the door as an aspiring journalist. The experience that I was receiving was amazing, unbelievable. I felt like I was on top of the world, and it was finally at the tip of my fingers again. But everything that was taking me so fast came back around and caught up with me...
It's so ironic because I was actually transcribing an interview when I had my first real panic attack. This particular day, I was under so much stress. Deadlines were spilling over, and I felt extremely defeated. I guess my body had just gone into overdrive, because my heart damn near felt to my knees. At least, that's what it felt like. I was gasping for air, scared that this was IT for me. I thought I was going to die. The more I tried to breathe in, breathe out, the more I felt like I was drowning. It was like no matter how much I fought to swim up to the top, the pressure from the water kept pushing me back down. I was sure that this was the end.
But... I'm too young to die! I have so much that I want to do! OMG!
So many terrifying thoughts escaped my brain. I couldn't deal with them alone, so I notified my family of what was happening to me. They advised me to grab some relaxation and a nap and I should be fine. Lo and behold, a few hours later, I was fine. Fine until a few days later, while on the way to Walmart. Isn't it crazy how I remember my exact whereabouts? LOL. How could I forget? These were two of the most petrifying moments of my life.
That same heart-dropping feeling that I'd experienced at my computer desk, I was experiencing it again. This time, I felt like the whole world was caving in on me. It was even worse because I was in a moving car, so that quadrupled my freak-out mode. I was hyperventilating, having hot flashes, and couldn't settle myself for shit. This went on for about an hour, and then I decided to pay the emergency room a visit. I needed to know what was going on with me, because this didn't feel right... at all.
I got there, got checked, and soon found out that I'd been diagnosed with acid reflux and severe anxiety/panic. With that has come depression. Plenty of it. Sometimes for a reason, other times for no reason at all. Which I've come to the conclusion is a result of the traumatic event that happened only a few months before I found out about my disorder. The fire. That doesn't mean that I've fully come to accept it, though. What should've made sense then doesn't always make sense, even now. Although I've sought solace in knowing what is wrong with me, I'd be lying if I said that the road has been easy. It's been filled with sharp curves, speed bumps, tree limbs--everything you could possibly think of. But the fact still remains that I'm the driver, and wherever I let this journey take me is solely up to me. I can either let it stifle my wheel or ride it out. I've chosen to ride it out.
Two years after the discovery of my illness, in 2018, I became a published author. So far, I've written three books. My third novel, "If These Pews Could Talk 2," releases on February 4th. Penning that last one was a pain in my butt. It took me six months to finish it. Six months! Definitely longer than I intended to take, but I can finally relax! It's out of my hands and into the public's. I can't wait for y'all to read it. My depression tried its very best to swallow me, but I didn't let it. I don't know how I've managed to get it done, but I DID IT! I'm still on my journalist kick, still talking to the stars. Nothing's changing but my mindset, and hopefully my bank account this year (JUST SAYING), which I'm still diligently working on. I tell anybody; it's a process. It's not something that happens overnight.
Butttt.... I'm training myself to let the chips fall where they may. Also, everything isn't always as bad as it may appear to be, better is to come if you just believe, and there's sunshine at the end of the storm. It's not about how you fall; it's about how you get up. Where you started doesn't determine where you will go.
Turn on that GPS and drive, honey! Don't let your current situation stop you from your potential destination.
We're in this together, girl.