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A young woman in a summer dress with her arms outstretched, celebrating freedom.

Source: Mint Images – Tim Robbins / Getty

HelloBeautiful contributing writer Kamela Fleming recently overcame a debilitating struggle with depression, which is plaguing scores of Black women across the country. In the second of a two-part journal series, she shares her step-by-step process of her path to healing, and how it gave her a renewed purpose to help others who are struggling. You can read part one of her journal entry here.

Since the initial sharing of my story I’ve shared my story on HelloBeautiful and social media, I’ve had waves of women thanking me, as well as sharing their journeys to self-love and empowerment.

I am grateful to have realized that with pain came my purpose, progress and perseverance. This journey is how I am actively becoming even better than the old me.

As many of you have asked me for advice on overcoming depression, I am sharing my experience with you in the hopes that it will help you on your own path. It’s worth noting that I am not a therapist or doctor, but am just sharing my own advice with you on what helped me. Tailor my tips to your own journey, as we are all on different paths and should do our best to embrace our own healing processes.

CHOOSE HAPPINESS:

When I finally made the call to seek help, I knew I made the most important choice of my life: to be happy. To heal. To love differently. To step up. To open up.

Let that be “tip” one: happiness is a choice. And it’s one you have to make daily, sometimes even multiple times a day. It takes real work and is a crazy, eye-opening and exhausting ride.

Are you ready?

SEEK PROFESSIONAL GUIDANCE:

It took me way too long to get a therapist. As soon as I did, I was literally angry at myself for weeks for not doing it sooner. I’d suggest choosing someone who represents your demographic (in my case, it was a Black woman). It’s no exaggeration to say she saved my life and is my angel. Talking to her is like talking to my best friend who happens to be a trained professional.

When I’m preoccupied with everyone else, she makes me look at myself. Our conversations have no, bias or judgment, which allows me to be free to express myself. And while I’m not religious, her Christian faith helped me to speak freely about God and implementing Him into my life. Which is my next piece of guidance…

SEEK SPIRITUAL GUIDANCE — GOD AND MOTHER UNIVERSE:

If getting close to the Universe sounds “weird,” get in formation because knowing these two and understanding how they work both for you and with you is life altering.

In my world: God made Her, She takes directions directly from Him. I think of it like this. The two pertinent parts of a relationship with anyone are communication and trust, right? Well, I see it as the same thing with these two entities. Talk to both of Them and tell Them exactly what you want and be overly specific. Afterward, trust that both of Them will work in unison to make it happen, so as long as it is for you

BE VOCAL:

Find your voice and use it. I remember about two sessions in with my therapist, I heard myself spilling my deepest secrets and feelings. I felt better just saying and hearing them. She recommended this exercise of being vocal as part of the healing process, so I opened up to my friends and family about any and everything, both in person and on social media.

I began feeling so relieved and so “light.” I quickly learned that suppressing the truest part of your pain — those ugly, embarrassing feelings — provides no use for you.

MIND AS YOU GO:

I can still hear my late, English Nan in my head yelling out “mind as you go, Kam” as I ran out of her house to run around Ipswich.

She meant to watch myself in the sense of being mindful of what I did and said. Your thoughts manifest. They become you.

I’ve always had a self-confidence issue. I was never pretty enough, thin enough, smart enough or whatever “enough” it was in my mind. I was bullied throughout my entire childhood and it shaped my thinking and I truly believed what they were saying. Those ugly beliefs became actions, as I allowed people to treat me as if I was inadequate.

Imagine, for a second, if you did the opposite. Stop being ugly to yourself. You are the sugar, honey AND the iced tea. You deserve all of this happy that God has provided us. Mama Universe is here at your feet – literally – to help you and guide you and bring you all of the joys and riches you desire. Start telling the world, be it out loud in the car ride home or randomly in conversation with your dentist, just how amazing you are and how you’re going to conquer. Love on you and correct negative statements constantly.

DO

If you’re reading this, I know you want change, so make it happen. Be active in your dreams. Life ain’t a rub-a-bottle-and-get-three-wishes ordeal. You actually have to put in the work, too.

Do.

Whatever it takes, do it and it you will reap your benefits. I am a testament. I watched my life do a 720 and I’m as happy as a freshly changed baby. To achieve it, I worked, trusted and applied.

If you want it go for it. And be ready for it when it comes.

PURGE

At some point after being vocal, seeking help and talking to God, you have to let go.

Logically, it is simple, sure. But emotionally, you’ve probably been a victim so long that you have made a home in sadness.

Let it go.

It’s doing nothing for you, bag lady. You’re wearing it like a bad perfume.

Being happy and loving you means healing, which means not only letting that wound scab, but also allowing it to become a mere scar on your heart. It’s always going to be there, but the only way it opens again is if you keep picking at it. 

Healing begins with forgiveness, most importantly forgiving yourself. When you can do this, suddenly forgiving others becomes a piece of cake.

So, forgive everyone. They don’t need to know it, but do it in your heart. Choose to forgive them, heal, close that door, lock it and throw the key into a furnace.

SELF-PRESERVE:

So you did it! You’re happy or almost there.

Now, it’s time to take measures to make sure you can maintain this.

You, my friend, are going to constantly remind yourself of this magical place you’re in and make sure to weed out and to let go of all that can be detrimental to your euphoria.

That means you aren’t letting anybody talk to you sideways anymore.

You are telling people “no,” because the club doesn’t sound as fun as watching The Office for the 217th time under the covers with a glass of wine tonight.

You are ridding yourself of Tom, Dick AND Harry because they aren’t earning and maintaining their spot on your roster.

Just as you’ve purged bad feelings and pain, actively do the same with people, relationships, jobs, whatever. This will become second nature, light work even, for you. Habitual weeding and removing will be every part of THIS you.

I won’t lie and tell you it’s easy. This whole pursuit is trying as hell. You will cry those hideous, snotty, make your chest cave in cries, sometimes for days in a row. You’ll be upset with yourself. You’ll remember what Shorty Doo-Wap did to you in 2009 and you’ll hate him all over again. You’ll laugh at how silly you’ve been. You’ll have to say farewell to some close relationships. You’ll begin walking around with a kool-aid smile like a crazed person. And at random, you’ll even break down about how grateful you are and find God in the smallest things. But the one thing I can promise is that once you’re on the other side, you’ll see that these things were worth it and will all make sense.

With pain will come your purpose.

READ PART ONE OF KAMELA’S STORY HERE.

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