Black Covers

"When you give God complete control, it's very hard not to be fearless."
Rihanna 
Monday, March 9th, 2015
11:31 PM (West Coast Time)
NP: We Good - Fabolous f. Rich Homie Quan

It was literally 1 month ago today that I walked into Hopkins, in seek of help. I wasn't sure of what would happen or what they would do to me but I had to swallow the lump in my throat and surrender myself. I was most terrified at the idea that I may have been bipolar, like my mother. I lost track of time while laying on that hospital bed, starring at the lemon yellow walls, with no phone or watch. They take everything from you when you admit yourself, even if you tell the nurses, "I'm not going to hurt myself, I just want to get help. I just want to find out what's wrong with me." But they were sweet, I told them that I was completing a PHD level course at UMBC and really just wanted my books, if I couldn't have anything else, I need my books and my journal. They let me have them and after reading about 50 pages of "A Return to Love" (which had nothing to do with my class), writing over twenty pages in my journal, and falling in and out sleep, the nurse and a young resident doctor finally came into my room and began their tests. I have no idea how much time passed before they came back with the head doctor. 

"Give it to me doc... Give it to me straight... I'm ready.. Come on out with it." I put my hands under my butt and began rocking back and forth, waiting for my diagnoses. 

"Ms. Clay, you're not bipolar, you seem to have Mood Disorders. We think you're severely depressed. You've been suffering for a long time. You were very brave to come here today." 

"So do I need medication? What will happen next?" I was overwhelmed with relief but still so confused. 

"No, you don't need medication right now but we think we should keep you here for immediate treatment. We want to help you." She was sincere in her tone but I didn't trust that place, even though they'd been nothing but nice to me the whole time, I'd read many articles about conspiracies and malpractice that had been done toward African Americans at Hopkins.  And then I thought about my mother and what happened to her after being "helped". 

"No. I can't stay here. I have things to do. Aren't their other options? How long would you guys need to keep me? What does this "help" consist of?" 

"I don't know how long you would need to stay, it could be a week or a month... It all depends on the treatment plan the doctors upstairs think you need." 

"No. Not gonna happen." 

She said a few more words that I can't remember. Something about talking it over with the other doctors but I was zoned out. I started to imagine being in the hospital for my issues and couldn't see how that would help ... But at the same time, they were right, I had been suffering from depression for a long time. What I always considered mild bouts of sadness were now being labeled as a disorder. I began to reconsider their suggestion that I stay in the hospital.  

"Ms. Clay, how are you?" A different doctor entered the room. 

"Where's the other lady? Not to be rude but I don't know you. I only want to talk to her." 

"Okay, no problem, Ms. Clay." 

He smiled and left. It seemed like forever before my lanky, red haired doctor returned. 

"Ms. Clay, is everything alright? That was my boss. He said you didn't want to talk to him but he's the person who will approve your discharge." 

"I think I should stay here... I think I should get the treatment that you suggested." 

"Oh noooo Ms. Clay. You can't stay here. I mean, you can but your bill be expensive, we don't accept Blue Cross Blue Shield insurance. I was going to send you to Sheppard Pratt." 

SHEPPARD PRATT?! I kept my thought in my head but I was ready to run as far as I could. I didn't want to go there. Not at all. 

"But I'm not even sure that they have any beds there tonight. If they don't have beds, you could be shipped anywhere. I don't want that for you. You're going home but if you have any other feelings about harming yourself, will you promise me that you will come back?" 

"I didn't want to harm myself. I keep telling you the same thing, I didn't come here because I want to commit the S word, I just want to stop crying. I just want to be myself again. I can't keep covering my pain with black covers, hiding behind an empty smile. I can't spend another day lying to myself. I'm weak and I need some help. I'm weak, Doc. I just want my strength back." I began crying again. 

"You never lost your strength Ms. Clay. Do you know how strong you were to come here today? That took a lot of courage. You should be proud. You'll be back 100% soon, I know it." 

She was right. Here I am, one month later, kicking off my Jordan's and reclining my seat on a flight from LA to Sydney. I've been laughing with Meekz and Shelly since before we even left JFK. I missed these girls. When we land, we'll meet up with Nikki. 

I can't really express how I am feeling right now. It's really starting to hit me that I'm going to be in Australia in about 13 more hours. It's really hitting me that I survived the scariest season of my life and I am still in awe at the fact that I will be starting the next season in a totally different continent. I wish I could be more colorful and creative with my sentiments right now  but the only word I can come up with is "blessed".

A month ago, I saw no way out - and yes, this trip was planned and I should've looked forward to it to help me stay positive but when you're depressed, I mean really in a dark place, not even the thought of a trip Down Under will cheer you up. I feel wrong for that though. I should've never stopped acknowledging how privileged I am...how far I've come. I should've never let my problems take me so far down - but even though this may sound crazy, I'm so so sooo glad they did. I always knew I needed help and as I sit on this plane, feeling 100% back to being myself, I know that if I hadn't experienced that break down last month, I never would have gotten it the help that I so desperately needed. All of my friends can see such a difference in my demeanor. I love my weekly talk-therapy sessions. I'm grateful that I was able to take some time off of work and school to take my time to grieve, heal, and finally - let go. And look at me now - going to AUSTRALIA !!! To God be the glory. 



It's 6:30 in the morning Cali time, which makes it 10:30 at night, New York time... Have no idea what time it is over here in the Pacific Islands but I know we are already a day ahead of the folks back home. I opened my eyes just in time. According to the flight tracker thingie, we're going over the equator RIGHT NOW!!! Omg! I want to wake Meekz and Shelly up but they look so peaceful and cozy in their silk bonnets and neck pillows. 

*** 

So, I couldn't fall back to sleep after my encounter with the international date line. I pulled out my British Vogue and Bazaar mags. I bought them during my most recent trip to LA but I didn't get the chance to read them. 

I'm always proud to see black women gracing the covers of high fashion publications. Rihanna is on Bazaar and my favorite model, Jourdan Dunn, is on British Vogue. Their spreads are flawless and both of their articles are equally interesting, in totally different ways. 

Rihanna's photos were captured in a shark tank in Florida. Now, I have had my share of fearless photoshoots, like the time I laid with the tigers in Thailand but swimming with sharks totally trumps that experience. She dove in and posed for the prints while three 8 feet sharks swarmed around her. 

Bazaar's Laura Brown started the interview by asking Rih about swimming with sharks in the figurative sense, "How did you learn to swim with the sharks of life?" 

"I try my best to avoid the sharks of life, but I've had my share of experiences with them, and in those cases I just have to handle them accordingly. But I do not swim with sharks...sharks swim with sharks." The ellipses in that last sentence made me wonder what she said that was omitted. I wish Brown would have written the sentence in the exact way that she said because I felt like there was so much more to that than what we are able to read. 

Brown continued and maintained a healthy balance between shallow and deep questions. "You are fearless with your style, but in what ways are you fearless in life?" 

"I think I'm like most people, we fear the unknown and the things that have yet to come to pass, which are the very things that don't deserve to be feared. When you give God complete control, it's very hard not to be fearless." 

As wild as Rihanna's image is, it's quite refreshing to hear her speak of a higher power. I love it. And she is spot on with her theory that most people fear the unknown. She reminds us of how foolish we are when we try to fix and predict things ourselves. If I believe in Source, which I do...and if I believe that all things that I desire will manifest during their destined time, which I do - then I should have nothing but faith in God, not fear in things that are out of my control. He's got my back. 

Jourdan's interview was like many of the articles that I have read about her. She was very open and honest about personal issues, not because she isn't private but because she is fully aware of her impact on society and those that admire her. Unlike Rihanna, who has been known to say, "I am not a role model...", Dunn welcomes the responsibility to lead by example. She directly identifies with women on so many levels, being from a middle class single parent household, to being a single parent herself - having a son, who was diagnosed with sickle cell anemia, before she was even able to buy her own alcohol, with a man who was later incarcerated - Jourdan is relatable every woman. 

I remember reading a Teen Vogue article in 2009, in which Dunn and Chanel Iman graced the cover. The article addressed the competition that split them apart and caused them to not be friends. Jourdan talked about the fact the fashion industry doesn't have room for many Black models but that didn't mean that she and Iman shouldn't be friends. I still use that article to inspire collaboration amongst my 8th grade girls. 

During her conversation with Patrick Demarchelier for British Vogue, she touched on the issues of racism in the industry again.

"It's hard being a model regardless, and then being a black model." But Jourdan has made great strides for women of color, in fact, when she was still in her teens, she was the first black model to walk the runway of a Prada show in over 13 years. She talked about not being as appreciative for her opportunities as she should have been back then but with maturity comes growth. After 8 years in the industry, Dunn is now one of the highest paid models in the world. 

I'm deeply inspired by the depth of the messages of these articles. Both the fearless Rihanna and the determined Jourdan are true examples of how far simply being the first to believe in yourself will get you. 

"...My message is to be happy and love yourself. There have been so many times when I've thought, 'I can't do this' but it's easy to give up. I hope that people will think that if Jourdan, a single mom from Greenwood can do it, then maybe I can." 

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