Can I share a moment of vulnerability with you? I am depressed!
Right now, I’m what you call functionally depressed. Over the past few weeks, I’ve been able to work- conducting VIP days, planning and leading workshops, coaching etc. But I also dropped the ball due to my depressive symptoms. For example, I couldn’t think straight to provide some deliverables I promised. I didn’t schedule an interview for a client in the right time zone. The most frustrating of all, I had to cancel my course due to illness related fatigue.
So, why am I telling you this? Well, I promise is not for you to join me in a pity party. I did that for myself already (binge eating and all)- bad, I know.
I’m sharing this to be real with you! As a group, we Black women don’t always share our “hit bottom” stories. We are taught that being strong is only showing our best. Sister, I took off my mask a long time ago.
Now, let me contextualize what’s happening with me a bit. I am having business success for a startup, but I am working and living in a way that’s totally out of alignment with my desired life.
For example, my relationship with my fiancé is an all time low. My health (eating & fitness) is totally out of whack. The kicker, I’m working in a way that doesn’t compliment the specific accommodations I need for my disorder. This is one of the major reasons I decided to work for myself-to better accommodate my health needs.
So here I am living completely out of alignment as the “live authentically” specialist.
What is a Girl to do when life isn’t looking how she imagined? After my crying episode, I sternly told myself, “Quanisha, you need to get it together.”
Here are the steps to Get It Together
Step 1: Disconnect
This was the hardest part of the process for me. Around 11am, I logged out of the Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Periscope apps on my cell phone. Then, I put the phone itself on silent. I did this to be with myself and to not have an escape for my distraction. Deep work requires concentration. Identifying and understanding our emotions requires uninterrupted time for exploration.
For me, and probably you too, excessive use of social media, the Internet, and TV act as a numbing agent. We utilize these forms of entertainment in order to distract from our emotions, fill voids, or to procrastinate.
The step here is to tune out so you can tune in.
Step 2: Evaluate
Now that you’ve created what I like to call a sacred space (cause it’s just you and the divine), it’s time to perform a self-evaluation.
Ask yourself: How the hell did I get here?
Yes, really! What are you doing (or have been doing) in your life right now that is leading to the results you are experiencing?
I realized I am emotionally eating (and have been for the past few months) due to overloading my life with commitments. Also, I am not using my time management skills well. This is a “spill over” from my last year in graduate school. Consequentially, I eat as a way to cope with the anxiety of it all.
Also, I had to radically accept that I’m not consistently taking medicine for my depression and mood disorder. If I’m not in a regimen of holistic care, being overloaded results in dramatic shifts with my energy, concentration, and moods. Until I can reach that pinnacle of holistic management, I need medicine for stability. This is equivalent to attempting to walk without crunches while having a broken leg. No bueno!
I’ll share one more: I’ve been too focused on school, and now work/business, during my personal time. Consequentially, I am not present with my family. The lack of engagement not only impacts them, but it also affects me negatively since I know disengagement impacts how deeply I experience love with my fiancé and child.
Step 3: Revisit Your Values
Once you have a clear assessment of the situation, it’s time to get centered.
Many of you have read & participated in my Who You Be programs where I help you get clear on your values. If you haven’t done so, I encourage you to do it before continuing here. Because this step requires you to revisit your values in order to determine how far you are off center.
Don’t know your values: Click here for a quick way to discover your values. This isn’t the process I recommend to identify your core values, but the 3 steps I outline in the article will at least get you started.
Let’s continue: Think about what your values represent in your life in terms of actions, behaviors, and experiences. Are they currently present in your life?
My core values are: Authenticity, Excellence & Love.
I asked myself:
- Do I feel I am showing up as my true self in all my interactions?
- Am I operating in excellence in my interactions with others?
- Am I practicing self-love?
I felt an overall sense of “No, I’m not being or living that.”
Step 4: Set New Priorities
Revisiting your values will help you uncover the severity of your misalignment. You see, your values are the goal and markers for your total, dare I say, optimal wellness.
This next step requires that you make a plan to bridge the gap between your current circumstance and your authentic life.
In order to do this for myself, I outlined my top 5 current priorities to get me back in alignment:
- Me (Health & Self-care: includes prayer, therapy, etc.)
- Family (Being totally available and engaged with them)
- Business (Vehicle through which I currently honor my calling)
- Community (maintain authentic connections with communities I founded; choose 1-2 groups to maintain consistent participation)
- Minimalist lifestyle (Focused, Intentional & Freed Living)
Understand this: Core Values are consistent throughout one’s life. I think of them as equivalent to your DNA. These values and how they manifest in your life are what makes you unique and divine.
Priorities shift according to what gaps you need to fill between your current situation and your desired intentions.
Step 5: Craft An Action Plan
Priorities are concepts. They become real when we take action. Now, plan out a few action items to build momentum.
Here are a few of the actions I intend to make this week:
- I will seek stability through revisiting methods to help me with my emotional regulation. I know this will help me stabilize my moods and incorporate healthy coping mechanism. (i.e. I will take my meds and practice my Dialectical Behavioral Therapy skills).
- I will create a business model and structure that best accommodates my health needs. This requires getting clear on what I need. I intend to send an email update to my current clients by week’s end.
- Create calendar and engagement rules for both my work and personal time (ex. I may check social media twice a day and refrain, unless necessary, from using technology after 6:30pm in order to engage with my family).
Change is the sum of consistent execution. Nothing is unmanageable. Even when life is totally out of whack, you can take control and get it together. Yes, I’m still experiencing depression symptoms, but I now have a new level of hope and expectation that I will live true to myself.
It’s good to do this Authentic Alignment Assessment every month or at least every quarter for maintenance. Conduct it weekly if you want to see dramatic results. I set a monthly calendar reminder to do this work, but I began ignoring it a few months ago. I intend to honor my self-promise to do this on the first of each month. I invite you to join me on this path!
Tell me: What’s one step you will take today to reclaim your life?
Resources to Support Your Reclamation:
Discover Your Values: Who You Be? How Black Women Can Live Authentically
Discover Your Strengths: Black Women Rise Leadership Guide