"We're going to have to admit you. I'm going to make a call, just prepare yourself because you could leave in the next day or so."
This is what a psychologist told me after spending just a few minutes in her office. I was scared, confused, and emotional. I looked at her as if she was telling me that I was a crazy person. Is my case that bad that a psychologist's solution was to refer me to a psychiatric hospital? Can't we sort this out in a few sessions? Well, I guess not.
You see, five years ago I was raped by a stranger. I spoke about my story here. This is the same situation that led me to a psychologist's office in 2017 because I felt as though my life was falling apart.
Things had gotten so bad that I was a mess all the time. I was crying everywhere – at work, in my car, at church, and at home. As much as I thought I'd dealt with the emotional scars that come with being a rape survivor, it turned out, I had barely scratched the surface. You see, publicly opening up about my experience resulted in a lot of people reaching out to me and sharing their own painful experiences. Their emails touched me so much and I wanted to be there for all of them, to tell them that everything would be fine, and that they will overcome. I was responding to emails and encouraging others who had faced a similar situation, all the while asking myself, Who is pouring into me while I'm pouring into all these people?
This left me so empty and things just went downhill from there. I felt like a fraud.
I was telling others that they'd be fine while I was dying inside.
I was a mess. It was time to do something about it. I prayed one of the most emotional prayers of my life. I said, "Lord, please heal me. Do whatever it takes to heal these emotional scars."
I even wrote this prayer on a sticky note and stuck it on my bathroom mirror. About two weeks later, I found myself in a psychologist's office and she referred me to a psychiatric hospital, which now, looking back, was exactly what I needed.
Before being admitted, I had all kinds of ideas about this kind of hospital. I had negative expectations and even believed that I was too "normal" to be in such an environment. I drove myself there and cried the whole way. However, when I arrived, I was so surprised. The place was beautiful, clean, it had "normal-looking" people just like me, and it was peaceful. So what was the big fuss all about? I guess it all comes with not having enough knowledge about psychiatric hospitals and being admitted.
Being in that hospital made me feel like I was surrounded by people who knew exactly what I was experiencing. I could talk about my feelings and no one would judge me or suggest that I was exaggerating my pain. I met so many amazing people – young working professionals and older people (Black and white) who, just like me, had found themselves at a breaking point in their lives.
Here's what I learned:
You are Never Alone
No matter what you're going through, just know that there's another person who's gone through the same experience and has felt exactly what you're feeling. I know this doesn't make it better or even make the pain disappear, but it's good to know that there's someone out there who understands exactly how you're feeling and what you're going through.
Healing Comes in Waves
There's this quote I found on the Internet a while ago. It says: "Healing comes in waves, and maybe today the wave hits the rocks, and that's okay, that's okay, darling. You are still healing, you are still healing." For me, this means that all days are not the same. One day, you're in a good mood and you're happy, and the next day, you're feeling like your world is falling apart. And that it absolutely fine.
They say healing is a process, and this is very true. You should allow yourself to feel everything that comes, whether it's happiness, sadness, anger, or whatever. Feel it. Stay in the feeling. Don't run away from it. Don't try to distract yourself from it. Feel it and then let it pass.
Cry if you have to. Scream if you must. Do whatever it takes and feel what you need to feel.
Trust me, this is all part of the healing process. Healing is uncomfortable, that much I can tell you. But it is necessary.
Acknowledge and Accept What You Went Through
The first time I shared my incident with the psychologist at the hospital, she said something that I hadn't realized. "You went through something so terrible and the way you're telling your story is so casual. Why? You have detached yourself from the story," she said.
And she was right. After our session, I went to my room, got my journal, and started writing. My intention was to understand why I was showing absolutely no emotion about what I had gone through. And then it hit me: I still had not accepted it. It was as if the incident never happened and that's why it was so easy for me to talk about it like I was talking about drinking a glass of water – something that happens every day. This, it turned out, was my brain's way of dealing with what happened to me.
I started crying uncontrollably. I had to go back (in my mind) to the day when it all happened, watch the whole thing, acknowledge and accept that it did happen, and that it was not my fault. I think the fact that I accepted that it had happened somehow changed something in my brain. I don't know how to explain it, but all I can say is that from that day forward, things changed for the better.
Don’t Be Ashamed
I think a lot of people who go through traumatic experiences feel as if talking about it is embarrassing. However, that's not true.
The more you own your story and talk about it, the more powerful you become.
The incident doesn't and should never define you. Speaking about it also helps with your healing and it also makes you realize that you're not alone. y sharing your story you're also encouraging and empowering others to share their stories. Don't let shame silence you. Speak up, you never know who you might help in the process.
It Gets Better
I wish I had taken before and after pictures of me when I arrived at the psychiatric hospital and when I left the place two weeks later. Oh, the difference! I went in there feeling hopeless. I honestly no longer saw the point of living; life just felt like one big disaster that needed to end. However, this changed as I spent more time there. We had regular sessions with psychiatrists and psychologists and were taught so much about wellness. I felt empowered and I was hopeful again. And I'm not just saying this, I really mean it.
That place changed my life so much that I would recommend it to anyone who is going through a tough time right now. I'd say take a break from work or whatever you're busy with, and make healing a priority. We go through so many things in our lives and we never really take time to deal with things and heal because "life goes on".
Yes, life does go on, but that doesn't make the pain or scars go away. The only way to deal with pain is to face it. There are no shortcuts to healing, unfortunately. But in the end, you will be fine. It will get better. Trust me.
Featured image by Getty Images.
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This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
Imma tell y’all what — it seems like not one week goes by when I don’t see some sort of so-called term that has me like, “What in the world?” For instance, when I first stumbled upon “self-partnering,” honestly, I laughed. Then shared it with some other single people as well as married folks I know. And I kid you not, every individual was like, “What the heck does that mean?” When I told them that it was yet, one more way to seemingly define single living, basically everyone’s follow-up was, “Oh, brother.”
Why can’t (more) singles just be single and be okay with that? Good Lord. Why does there need to be some sort of relational play-on-words to make it sound like we’re with someone — even if we’re not?
Now masturdating? Even though it’s not even close to being a “real” word, it’s something that also brought a laugh outta me — although it was then followed by a genuine smile. The laugh because I almost immediately caught the play-on-words. The smile was due to the intention behind it all.
If you’re not familiar with what masturdating is and you’re curious about why you should even care, take a few moments to at least skim through what it’s about and why I think participating, as a single person, is a pretty cool (and effective) concept.
Masturdate: a date w oneself
What’s Masturdating All About?
Masturdating. Okay, so let the word marinate for just a moment. What does it sound like? Yeah…exactly. And since a huge part of masturbation centers around self-pleasure, it’s cool to explore how “self-dating” could produce similar (as far as pleasure is concerned in a broader sense) results. Because masturdating is all about spending quality time with yourself, pampering yourself, treating yourself— and yes, taking yourself out on dates.
Any of you who may think that masturdating is a consolation prize — and a pitiful one at that — for not being able to go out with another human being or get that dream $200 first date that social media was all in a tizzy about last year (bookmark that) — personally, I think that you’re the demographic who needs to try out masturdating first and the most. Why? Off top, I’ll share my three good reasons.
3 Reasons To Strongly Consider Masturdating
1. It’s an intimate way to get to know yourself better. I’ve been working with couples for a pretty long time at this point and if there’s a pattern that I see arise, OFTEN, it’s that two people are oftentimes so busy trying to “find their person” that they didn’t even know who they were. As a direct result, they found themselves in a relationship with someone who only complemented the “kiddie pool version” of who they were.
That’s why it can be so beneficial to spend time getting to know yourself on the “deep end” of things: what makes you tick, what your passions are, what you want most out of life, what are your interests beyond obvious things — and masturdating can help you to discover all of this. Whether it’s traveling alone or taking out a weekend to drink some wine and journal, the more you get to know yourself, the clearer you’ll be about who complements you on a romantic and friendship level.
2. It will definitely help to boost your confidence levels. I guess since I’m an ambivert, I don’t really get why people freak out at the mere thought of going to a restaurant or movie alone. Personally, I think it requires a helluva lot more energy and gumption to wait around and plan stuff with other people (#Elmoshrug). However, whether you’re an introvert, extrovert, or ambivert, there’s no way around the fact that the more comfortable you get with doing things alone, the more your confidence levels will increase — no, soar — because of it.
One article that I read on the topic said that doing things alone can make you more creative, improve your mental health, and help you to be totally okay with being alone (so that you’re not “needy” for other people’s attention). A psychotherapist from a New York Times article on the benefits of spending time alone said, “Getting better at identifying moments when we need solitude to recharge and reflect can help us better handle negative emotions and experiences, like stress and burnout.” And when you’re able to stare negativity in its face without flinching, how could that not make you bolder, more self-secure, and hopeful about your life?
3. It will teach you to value your time more effectively. In every facet of your world, you’re gonna operate from a healthier place if you’re operating from a “full cup” rather than an empty one. When it comes to this topic, think about it — if you’re constantly waiting on someone to call you to go out or wishing for a dream date with some guy, all you’re doing is wasting precious time that you could be spending taking a cooking class or hell, hiring a chef to make you dinner at your own home.
Indeed, waiting has two sides to it: when it’s in the form of patience, it is indeed a virtue, yet when it’s wrapped up in the notion that you’re not really living life unless you have an audience…it is totally working against you. Choose wisely.
10 Solo Date Ideas To Help You To “Master” Masturdating
So, what if you’re someone who has either never considered actually masturdating before or you don’t really know what to do beyond dinner and the movies? Here are a few ideas to consider:
1. Attend a workshop or masterclass that you’re interested in. If there’s something that you’ve always wanted to learn, sign up for a workshop or masterclass. The cool thing about this option is there are probably some in your city, as well as some that you can find online (like here) that are convenient and affordable.
2. Binge-read at a local coffee shop. Aside from their coziness and oftentimes inviting scents, I once read that a lot of us gravitate to coffee shops because we can be around people without having to actually socialize with them. So, if you want to “hang out” while still being able to enjoy a bit of solitude, take a book that you’ve been trying to finish to a local coffee shop, order your favorite latte, and sit in a big-ass comfy chair. Usually, you can sit there for hours, and the staff will be just fine with it (another bonus).
3. Have a spa day in the next town. You can never go wrong with a spa day. And while going with a friend can be fun, sometimes there’s too much talking transpiring to be able to fully chill out and relax. So, go off of the grid, get a change of scenery, and hit up a spa in the next city (or town). There are lots of studies out here supporting that day trips or “daycations” can actually be really good for your long-term health and well-being.
4. See a community play. Some of the best solo dates that I’ve ever been on consisted of taking in some of the local arts in my city. What’s really cool about this particular option is, oftentimes, they are extremely inexpensive, if not totally free of charge (in exchange for making a donation or putting money into a tip jar).
5. Plan a trip. Whenever people say something along the lines of, “If you don’t expect anything, you won’t be disappointed,” I know that they low-key have some (additional) healing to do from past disappointments. There’s simply too much intel out here to support that anticipation (of good stuff) makes us more motivated and optimistic, keeps our dopamine levels up, and makes life more exciting overall.
Since traveling alone is more cost-effective, gives you the freedom to do whatever you want (when you want), and increases the possibility of meeting new people and having new experiences on your journey — why not devote a day this weekend to planning a solo trip? All the way around, it’s good for you.
6. Try your hand at your own “$200 date.” Uh-huh. Roll your eyes if you want to, but it’s real easy to talk left about how a man should be able to just drop $200 like it’s nothing…until you actually try to do it. So yes, while taking yourself out on this type of date could serve as a bit of a reality check, it can also “scratch the itch” of waiting on some dude to do it for you. It’s also way less emotionally draining because, at least when you’re taking your own self out, it’s guaranteed that you’ll enjoy the company…right?
7. DIY some pampering. When you get a chance, check out “5 Reasons You Should Unapologetically Pamper Yourself,” “Want To Love On Yourself? Try These 10 Things At Home.,” “I’ve Got Some Ways For You To Start Pampering Your Soul,” and “When's The Last Time You Actually Pampered Your Vagina?” The bottom line here is pampering is all about, not mere self-maintenance; it’s all about treating yourself to levels of EXTREME SELF-INDULGENCE. So, if nothing else tickles your fancy on this list, at least consider doing that, chile.
8. Feed your creativity. Something that I used to be really good at is art. That said, one of my goddaughters is insanely talented, so she has reminded me to tap back into it. Also, a big part of what got me into the writing world is poetry; I actually used to be a house poet at a local spot. Sometimes, my best quality time moments with myself have been revisiting these creative sides of me — and this is definitely easier to do (and enjoy) alone.
9. Try some stargazing. When’s the last time you took a blanket into your backyard, laid down on it, and just stared at the stars for hours on end? While some say that stargazing can teach you to be mindful, others say that being in that form of nature reduces stress, while others believe that looking up at the universe at night can increase your attention span. All solid reasons to give it a shot, if you ask me.
10. DO. ABSOLUTELY. NOTHING. Let me tell you something that nobody will ever be able to make me feel bad about: doing absolutely nothing. I’ve got data to back me up. Good Housekeeping shares that doing nothing can help you decide how you want to respond or react to certain things. I like howThe Guardian says that taking this approach helps you to regain control of what you give your attention to.
TIME magazine says that it can ultimately make you more productive.BBC offers up that it can help you tap into your ingenuity.Henry Ford Health says that it can make you kinder and a better problem-solver. So, if you want to invest in yourself, do nothing sometimes.
Closing Thoughts from the Lovely Javicia Leslie
While some of y'all may know Javicia Leslie from being the former Batwoman, I discovered her back in the day from the indie series Chef Julian (and yes, "Julian" was right to say that "Mo" looks like Tatyana Ali...the real ones know). Sometimes I'll hop on her IG to see what she's got going on and this story popped up within a few hours of me penning this...so, I took it as hella confirmation.
TREAT YO SELF. WAIT FOR NO ONE.
WAIT FOR NO ONE. TREAT YO SELF.
RINSE AND REPEAT.
Sooo…what kind of masturdating plans do you have for this coming weekend? While going out with others has its perks, hanging out with yourself has a ton of ‘em too. Enjoy!
No…for real. ENJOY!
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