| Sabrena Suggs |
I once would have loved to convince you through this article that I am a phenomenal writer. I honestly would have hoped to write such an intriguing and thought-provoking article that you would share it on your social media or bring it up at dinner with family or friends. It sounds vain, but it’s the truth. I have often hoped that my words or actions would be seen as impressive by people in order to secure my esteem with their admiration, acceptance, or approval. Although many are likely to identify with these same desires at times, my journey has shown me first hand how this growing obsession of our culture has made us unhealthy. My obsession at times caused me quite a bit of mental and emotional instability – so much so that my instability began to take on the form of anxiety and depression.
Acknowledging this fact was quite a challenge. I stayed in indignant denial for quite some time, which only exacerbated the issue. As a black woman of the Christian faith (charismatic specifically), my acknowledgement had to first overcome the well-groomed mentality that "suck it up and keep moving," "don’t tell anyone and this too shall pass," or "just pray it away" was the correct course of action. Acknowledging my mental challenges also meant I should simultaneously see myself as weak, faith-deprived, demonically-oppressed, or accepting defeat.
Because my self-esteem had already been so deeply wrapped up in the approval and acceptance of others, it was obviously easier and more convenient to remain in denial. While I exhaustively fought to secure the image that I was strong, un-broken and well, I suffered in silence. I struggled deeply while my personal relationships suffered from my projections, anger, bitterness, isolation, inconsistencies, apathy, and negativity. I found temporary spiritual rest at times through prayer, reading, and reflection; but, it was coupled with the fear and shame that I was still somehow at fault for still being in this state or simply not trying hard enough. A vicious cycle of downward spirals and short-lived hope continued until I no longer felt safe or in control alone or around others. I could no longer recognize myself, and I realized the image I was protecting all along wasn’t there to protect anymore. I felt somehow both defeated and relieved.
I sought professional help and have been on a continuous journey of healing from deeply rooted traumas. I also learned that my acceptance of my illness was also the first step toward addressing my unhealthy attachment to my acceptance by others. I began to accept myself as I am fully. By accepting my flaws along with my merits, I saw myself as a whole person. My "good" and "bad" was the balance of my wholeness and mine to accept. I found that I could only be authentically secure from within. I still struggle often, but I am now able accept it as a part of my "whole" self.
Sabrena (Bre) Suggs is a mother of three who serves as a spiritual and mental health advocate, educator, and support specialist. She is a native of Indianapolis and a Butler University alum.