Miriam speaks with Author Petrona Joseph from Montreal who just released her book yesterday September 7 titled Stigmatized: Breaking the Silence and Demystifying Mental Illness. Petrona Joseph, previously featured on Breakfast Television, is the blogger behind Montreal-based ‘Slayedit Montreal.’
As a trilingual Concordia graduate in linguistics, her love first love is writing; she is also an author and a mental health advocate who seeks to demystify mental illness in the Black Community.
"You could feel my depression, but you couldn't see it"
"We need to listen to black women and men, black men, we need to acknowledge people's feelings."
Link to buy your copy of Stigmatized: Breaking The Silence and Demystifying Mental Illness.
ABOUT THE GUEST
Author Petrona Joseph who just released her book yesterday September 7 titled Stigmatized: Breaking the Silence and Demystifying Mental Illness. Petrona Joseph, previously featured on Breakfast Television, is the blogger behind Montreal-based ‘Slayedit Montreal.’ She is also a mental health advocate and nominee for author of the year.
As a trilingual Concordia graduate in linguistics, her love first love is writing; she is also an author and a mental health advocate who seeks to demystify mental illness in the Black Community.
Petrona Joseph Instagram: @Iampetronajoseph
ABOUT THE HOST
Miriam is a Trauma Informed Coach, an African, a mom of three daughters, a blogger and writer. After graduating from the London School of Economics, she built her international career in the fields of banking and international development, working for organisations such as the World Economic Forum, Lombard Odier Private Bank, JP Morgan, the Mastercard Foundation and the United Nations. She now uses her passion for psychology and dedicates her time to coaching others to free themselves from the burden of childhood trauma. Her wish to help other women connect to their inner wisdom, love themselves and follow their passion. In her effort to destigmatize mental health and normalize mental health conversations in black communities, she wrote her memoir about surviving childhood and finding her worth.
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Hello, my dear listeners, this is Miriam Njoku, your host at the overcoming your story podcast. This is Episode 24. And I'm interviewing petrona jozsef. From Andrea, she's releasing her book that comes out September 7. It's called stigmatized, breaking the silence and demystifying mental illness. It's a powerful conversation that I hope you enjoy just a trigger warning. There's a brief mention of suicide in the episode.
patron, I know you're a blogger, I think a journalist, you do many things, you do many things, let me let you introduce yourself, in your own words.
Well, I'm just to make it very, very simple for everyone. I am a writer. So I write, I've been writing for nine years, I have my own blog. But previously, I worked in the car business. And that was my first love luxury vehicles. And then the car business, if you know anything about it, it's very unstable. So that's what I decided to venture into something different, which was blogging. And so blogging opened up a different door. For me, it opened up the doors for me to go on TV, for me to sit on various journey. juries, for example, judging from festivals, and just a lot of opportunities. And today is a real full circle moment for me, because I've always wanted to be a writer. And my second book, which is this book, I think, is it was my purpose, you know, on on Earth, whatever that may be. So it's all full circle. My first book was about blogging and how to capitalize on that, and marketing. But I was never really connected to it. So I stopped marketing it a few years ago.
So how did you come to writing this very personal book, that is actually your true story, like seeing the value, the richness of your story, and how you can impact other people's lives.
So there was a part of my first book, where I wrote about depression and how writing helped me get out of it, right. And I wrote about the first time I blogged It was after a friend had gotten me out of the house. Three months after I was I locked myself up in the house for three months, only going out for groceries, which was maybe one step away from my home at the time, and my dog, you know, she'd go to the backyard, I really didn't want to see anyone. And after that prompting, she's like, No, you have to get out the house. So I left the house. And I ventured out in the world. But that part of the book where I spoke about why I stayed in the house and how depression had affected me, I saw how a lot of people responded to that part of the book. And so I book readings, which I used to have book readings, believe it or not at my home, because I didn't want anybody to pay. So I would invite total strangers to my house. And a lot of these strangers were opening up about their own struggles. And I remember vividly, I had a young woman at my house, and she told me she had wrote in a suicide letter. There's just a day before. And we're all sitting there. And I had my epiphany. And that's when I said, You know, I will speak about my struggles one day, and I took that part of the book and I started developing. So the book is, is it's really it's four years in the making. But throughout the pandemic, I lost my day job. I had a business, my business, I can't say it went under, but sales were slow. So then I had all of this time, you know, we were under curfew in Montreal. So I said, Okay, well, I have all this time. Why not? So that's how the book came about.
Wow, so powerful, really so powerful. If we wind it back petrona because when I looked at your Instagram, you know, I know we don't look like our struggles, you know, because if you don't tell me what your story is, I would never guessed from your Instagram you. I know in one of the posts, we'll talk about curating your life and bringing art into your life. And that's what you've been doing. But I can't imagine the force. The strength you've needed to get to that point. If you can just take us back. How did you grow up?
Growing up, I was born in Trinidad and Tobago, and at age three, my mom had passed away. So I try not to go to Watch into detail about my childhood too much vocally, because it is very triggering for me. So, and I and and, I mean, I've healed from it, but still, like, it's gonna catch up to me in two, three hours that that was my reality. But, you know, and I know a lot of people do have it worse, you know, some children, you know, were abandoned by their parents, so, but to me, mine was just a lot of instability, and a lot of trauma around family life. And then moving to Montreal. I never really wanted to be here. So I was considered a delinquent child. And a lot of people think that children who misbehave in a home environment are bad kids, they're not necessarily bad kids. They're just acting out what's felt in the home, some children are hypersensitive, I'm a hypersensitive person. So I can't I you know, if there's stuff that I feel in the atmosphere, I removed myself, but as a kid, you cannot remove yourself, you have to live with your parents. So I was always running away. And then eventually, in Montreal, I got put into foster care, I got put into the system. And so I was at foster homes, I was at group homes. And I speak about my father in the book, because this despite all of my bad behavior, my father didn't want to give up on me, my father could have easily just said, okay, just put her into group home until she's 18. And then, you know, she'll fend for herself, when you leave a group home at 18, the system I think, gives you maybe $800. That's all. So you're starting your life with $800. But my father spoke to the judge, and he says, you know, what, we're gonna send her back to, to where she's born, which was Trinidad, then I went to boarding school in Trinidad. And I did get some reform there. I mean, but my behavior wasn't the problem. I was just acting out all of the dysfunction that I had lived throughout my years from 30, from three years old, to let's say, 12 years old. And I speak about my stepmother and the book, which, if a child is growing up in an environment where an adult does not like them, especially as women, if you're growing up, and you have a stepmother, or caretaker that does not like you, you then develop, you know, feelings of not liking yourself, because, you know, this person is supposed to take care of you. And this person is telling you every day you're stupid, you're ugly, you're this your dad, you know, so my behavioral issues, I think, are mostly stemmed from, you know, a lot of the abuse, which I speak about in the book, but at the time, I didn't realize it was emotional abuse. If it wasn't for my father sending me to that boarding school and always taking me back every time I ran away from home, I would have been on the streets, I definitely would have been on the streets, they say we trauma, if there's someone like that a figure who can reach out like this extent help and support to the child going,
it can make a difference. And your father definitely made a difference in your life. I totally see what you mean, when the caregiver doesn't like you and you feel it as a child, it's a very hopeless place, helpless place to be in. So how did you transform? I know you went to university you speak several languages. You studied linguistics. So how, how did that that come about from that rebellious you? Which it's true. My fault. My last guest on the podcast is a man and he was saying the same thing, that when a child is acting out, we have to pay attention. Because most of the time we just label the child by child. They are no bad children. It's the emotional pain, the fear that they're acting out. So yes, exactly. Yeah, there's no bad child. So how did that transformation process come about? petrona
the only thing I can tell you is that I've always believed that my mother has always been with me. I have been through a lot of things that are unexplainable. For example, being stranded at 2am in Montreal One morning, and having nowhere else to go and calling someone and being like, Hey, can I sleep at your house? And her being like, Yeah, sure. But how will you get back and not not having any transport going up to a stranger and being like, Hey, can you drop me off at my friend's house and the man he looked at me, and there was just I always said that that was probably an angel because the man he looked at me and he was so concerned for my well being. He's like, you're a 13 year old girl walking the streets as Strangers for a ride. And, surprisingly, he took me to that very location. I arrived safely. And I went to bed that night thinking that was very extraordinary. And I turned around because when he dropped me off at the house, I swear, I turned around, and I wanted to look for his car, you know, like when you enter a house, and you look behind, the car was gone. Either he drove up very quickly, or he just disappeared. And I always say to myself, it was angels, there was always something deep inside of me that wouldn't let me give up resilience, a lot of prayer. And I had a lot of people praying for me. And the book, I speak about sister Esther bass then who, you know, she was very adamant about praying, praying, praying, even as an adult, going to classes, and just maintaining some form of regularity in my studies. It was supernatural. That's all I can tell you. It really was supernatural. Amazing. Amazing.
And did you feel comfortable at the time of your studies, letting anyone know about your story? Because I remember in my time when I was studying, it was I just took went to such great lengths to hide my story from everyone because no one story looked looked like mine. So I was like, No, no,
no, for me, no one knew I didn't, no one would have imagined. I mean, I was the life of the party. But people started suspecting cuz when the life of the party no longer is answering her phone. I used to get people calling me Hey, you know, we're, we're right down. I used to live close to St. Laurent Boulevard, where like the two biggest clubs were and so if somebody was going to any of these clubs, they would say, Hey, petrona you know, come meet me. Meanwhile, I'm in my bed catatonic crying, wishing I was dead. And the My friends are calling me to go party with them. So the next day, if they messaged me back, I will say, Oh, I'm so sorry, I was so tired. You know, people started looking, I speak about that in the book around when I was like, in my 20s, people would start distancing themselves from me, they couldn't tell what it was right? Because my behavior started becoming a little bit more different. So they, you know, I transformed from being the life of the party to someone who was very flaky. And you could feel my depression, but you couldn't see it. And then, around that time, too, I was very heavily involved in witchcraft, because I speak about that part in the book, where I thought I was cursed. So I was always very, like, you know, mystical, thinking that that would be helping me but you know, we, there's a lot of people like me, but they're just afraid to talk about it. There's, they're just afraid they're afraid of being ostracized, people are afraid of the stigma of mental health.
What are the main ones you've seen around mental health in our community?
While the number of famous one is definitely black people don't get mental health, mental illness. So that's the white person's disease. I talk about that when I do speak. Also, we're perceived, especially as black women, we are the caretakers of society. So we are the ones that take care of other people I don't know in your life, but for many of us, were the ones that people are like, Oh, I can go see her. But then when you tell them, I'm going through something a lot of the times people used to tell me or not even worried about you, like, but I'm telling you, I'm going through this, you know, I'm hurting, oh, I'm not worried about your you'll be fine. Because we're perceived in society as being the women, the independent women that don't mean need anybody, you know, but it's not true. And the third thing that I find really discomforting in the black community, is that we discourage each other from taking medication. So I speak about the church and how I was going to church thinking that, you know, I was in sin, and I needed to pray an hour and a half every day just so I don't get afflicted by anxiety, which was told to me that was a demonic attack. Okay, so every time I have a panic attack, imagine you're thinking that demons are afflicting you, so you need to pray more. Meanwhile, I needed medication. Right? And that was something that was discouraged. You don't need medication, you can drink green tea and pray to God. Right. So these are the three things you know and we need to do better because and to the pressure antidepressants do help. Right antidepressants do help. antidepressants will sometimes balance a person out. I've been taking antidepressants at This is my first year without antidepressants, and I still feel that they have done tremendously for me because I have more days where I'm stable. I'm normal, like today's a normal day, yesterday was not a normal day, right? The day before, that was a normal day. But then my, my abnormal days where I know the like, the mania is gone, and I am, you know, in bed, those are the last seven days. Now they may last and maybe a half day, the most it would be is two days, right? I did have an episode, while I was writing the book in Ontario, where it lasted five days. And I allowed myself because I was you know, in a different setting. So I did allow myself to, to rest, I allowed myself to only do what I could do, right. But normally I would have like, you know, beating myself up, I'm not I'm a strong black woman. I shouldn't be like this. I gotta I gotta work. I gotta, I gotta sweep. You know, we're always cleaning.
There's some I got to find something to clean.
So, you know, we need to do better, we need to do better. We need to listen to black women and men, black men, we need to acknowledge people's feelings. We have to we have to let people know that they're seen and heard and acknowledged, just that alone can regulate somebody's nervous system and make them feel better. But if you Oh, no, you're fine. You have nothing to worry about. When I was growing up, I had to tote water. This is what we thought we here in trinidadians. When I was growing up, I had to wake up at five, go down to the river to the water, bring it back up, you know, go to school, walk a half a mile. Okay, I understand that. But now in this setting in North America, I'm experiencing this. So can we acknowledge it, please, you know?
Yeah, and even even those people who carry water and they're trying to show they're fine. They're actually not fine. That's the thing. Right? They are not fine. It's just they don't realize they don't accept so they are not fine. And they want to push you in denia that we all Yes, it's all denial. No, you're fine. There's nothing wrong with you How long? And then it brings you back into shame and guilt? Well, how can Why can't I be happy that I have this I have that I have this job, I have these degrees, why can't I be happy as if you don't have the ability to be happy? Knowing that things happen to you. And those things they change. They change your brain, they change the way your brain is structured, right? Although childhood difficulties. I remember on one of your quotes on Instagram, you said you change your homes 10 you lived in 10 different homes in your formative years. I mean, that is enough to totally change the way a person experiences life. And no one can tell you no, that's nothing. No, it's a big deal. And if as an adult, it impacts your brain, we have to accept that I like like you going from the point where I suffered for so many years to the point where I accepted to take medication, it was such a big deal. And it was such a relief when I did it after my third pregnancy and third postpartum depression. And I found doctors who found the right words to tell me but if you're suffering so much, do you know you're not connecting with your child? And wow, that's Wow. You know, because I want to suffer for my cell. But to see that actually, the indirectly I inflict that on my child. I'm like, No, I don't want this. And then when when I got the education because it's fear out of mis education. When I got education on the antidepressant that we had been discussing for months are like no, this we have me and it did help me a lot did it that's helped me. I think I've right, that's how we put my third daughter it was easier. Right? It was easier. Yeah. And then I was not, you know, for the first two I was just suffering and waiting to get to the point where they are not so dependent on me anymore. This in this time. I was not in that state. I was just enjoying it not waiting for for any milestone, you know. I was thanks to the anti depressant. Are we always? Yeah, yeah, that is so powerful. And I can tell you as an African girl getting to the point where you say yes, I want to take the antidepressant. Girl I know right? Yeah. You know, you understand that too. I get you. Oh
my gosh, yes. Cuz even in Trinidad, you know, like, same thing here. Yes.
Same stories. We had it harder. You guys had it easier? No, it's just that we don't know what impacts a child in our communities. We don't know that a child needs to be nurtured, encouraged, you know, affirmative words? No, not you're stupid. You're this, you know, and a child doesn't have that. And it impacts the person they become as an adult.
They may not have picked them right away. But yes, it does affect adults. It really because we're, we're just replaying everything we heard as a kid.
And sometimes it stays dormant. We do well, we go school, we get great jobs. And for sure, Wow, you're so this. And then at one point in the transition period, things just come up. Because there haven't been dealt with they've just been pushed away, right? They come up again, and then we have to deal with them to be able to move. How has your book been received around you by people who know you or don't know you?
So I have one person who's read my book thus far. And when, you know, because I'm if you know, me, I'm not one of these people. That is after numbers or that's after I want to be, you know, I said to myself, if one person reads the book, and the book is well received by one person to go get help, because the whole point of me writing the book as well as so that people could understand, for example, antidepressants, I write my experience on antidepressants, and how it helped me, but I also wrote the, the negative The downside of it. So if somebody could read that, it's like, Okay, you know what, let me go. And finally, because some of us, we have antidepressants in our cabinets that have been there, and we refuse to take them because it shows over a week, right? So that one person can just be like, you know, what, let me try that antidepressants. Let me call my doctor and see if I could, you know, um, so when I, because obviously, there has to be some kind of marketing, which I'm totally against I, you know, I may have been an influencer at the time, but I'm not like a marketing person. But I had to market the book, right? I wrote it so. And I was like, oh, my goodness, because I still have my old bosses that follow me. I have my friends, kids who follow me. A lot of brands that I do partnerships with that follow me, to my goal, my goodness, you know, are people going to stop being my friends? Are people going to tell their kids don't look at her Instagram anymore? And I got the total opposite. I remember logging back on Facebook, you know, because my family is also on Facebook. So I was like, okay, you know, let me just see, my family is saying anything, you know, I was like, What is going on here? The the shares the, the likes the the, my inbox, I had so many inbox messages, I couldn't answer everything. It took me some days to finish all of them. And then I said back to myself, and I said, this is the Lord's work. Okay, this is this was intended by God, I am doing the Lord's work. That is why it's having this response. Okay, because the book is not just talking about depression and anxiety. It's talking about all of the other stuff that comes with that codependent relationships. I speak about that being in a relationship with someone because I didn't grow up with the attention on me. So I needed to be in a codependent relationship where I can forget about my problems and take care of this drug addict. Right, which many years now I could I could say he was a drug addict. But back then, I thought it was normal. But then when the second drug addict come, then you're like, Okay, I'm attracting situations. I speak about that. I also talk about drugs. Right. And so there were so many drugs around me. But there was just always something no matter how the press or how, you know, catatonic I may have felt inside. I just was never able to take that first line of cocaine, or you know, participate and smoking weed. It just it wasn't for me. So that in itself, a lot of people could relate to that. Because a lot of people are in codependent relationships with friends, family members, you know. So the book touches a little bit on everything. And because I was a public figure, because I've been on TV, a lot of people are telling me you are going through all of that. The first time I appeared on television, I was so it affected me so dramatically that the next time I made sure I had a lot of active ads. So the next time my second television appearance, you see me I'm like, woo is because I was I was on my pills.
A lot of people can relate to a lot of high level profile profiles, people that we see in the public. That's the difference the book has been making for me. A lot of them they've been reaching out. And they're like, Oh, my God, thank you for talking about it. My ex husband was abusive. Thank you for speaking about it. Yeah. Yeah. And what's interesting in the book that a lot of people don't know about me is my involvement and do coats because I thought I was cursed. I thought, depression and anxiety. And that's coming from the Caribbean back.
Oh, tell us a bit about that. Because you mentioned it in the morning, and I didn't ask you. So how does that work? If you go see spiritists?
And they tell you, yes, this is a curse, you need to get rid of the curse. So give me $3,000. And I will get rid of the curse. And so I've been through that cycle for eight years.
Wow, I'm giving that kind of amount of money and
time is less. Right. And then in the book, you're gonna see that I was so but I got addicted to that. Right. Because it's addictive.
Yeah. You know, I understand that. Because in Cameroon, that where I come from in Africa, we have gone to the traditional doctor, you know, you go and they look and they say, Oh, yeah, your, your your your spirit is, someone is holding your spirit. You have to give money. You have to give a good for us to free. I didn't know you had that. You see so much. Thank you.
No, but it's true. That's what they were telling me. I went through all kinds of ceremonies. Yeah,
yeah. Trying to free yourself and from this, from the person who cursed you, you know? Yeah, there's all kinds of stuff to family line. So you have to do this and this to free. But actually, today, I just call it childhood trauma, intergenerational trauma, thank you as what is holding us it, thank you, that it's you know, it when we hear this, and we hear from it, it's the cost lives itself, if we call it
Thank you. I speak about that. In the book I speak about that. The, the last, spiritualists, or the witch doctor, when I've had enough, because I think my bank account was really going low. And I went to see him. He's like, you know, it's, it's actually quite scary, because he tells me, there's a demon that's in love with you. And this demon is suppressing you. That's what's keeping you very heavy. Okay, so as a woman, how do you think that makes me feel? I think that going through a lot of these spirits, spiritualists affected my mental health even more, right? So I said to him, I said, So you're telling me that if I go to the church, and I pray, and I ask God to remove whatever this is away from me, it wouldn't work. And he told me, he says, if you go to the church and you pray, and you ask God to heal you from whatever this is, he will do it, but it's going to take longer. That's the last day I ever looked back and I ever spent a day No, yeah, that was the last day. I never looked back after that. Right, that I had to go to a church to get deliverance, because a lot of the things you know, a lot of the there's also actually no, there was a there was a witch, that was the last time I think I went I was still seeing another witch but she was in Trinidad. And she'd be like, Okay, I need some money. But like she was on my roster, I had a lot of them on my roster. I had a, I had one in Trinidad, I had one in long gay one in Montreal. I had, I had a someone I want to see every week. So I can see where the danger is coming from.
Think about it. But it's just it's trauma, it's dealing with the trauma, PTSD, you never felt safe as a child, and you don't, you don't want to ever feel like that anymore. So you're trying to see where it could come from. So you could preventively stay away from the danger.
That's exactly that's, that's something in our community. You know, if you tell somebody in our in the black communities in some parts of it, right, I'm not saying that Voodoo and stuff like that. I don't know that's up to God and the people who practice that's, you know, but there are people out there that will see your weaknesses and prey on you. And that's that's generally what happens and you keep paying and keeping Meanwhile, you should be going to see a psychologist and taking your medication.
Because if you have depression or anxiety is not an attack of the demon, it's just that your brain is wired differently. And it comes from it has been shown in studies that a child who is not saved is not nurtured is not protected, it's not locked, you know, and when it's severe and last for too long, the brain develops in a very different way. And it can, it can come back, you know, in adulthood to, you know, to haunt us so then people start saying, I remember why are you not happy you have these degrees. You should be happy but you're not. There. You feel so much guilt and shame but one happy, half shouldn't be happy. Why am I happy? I thought when I will reach this, my story will be eight I will feel fulfilled like somebody and it's not happening, what's wrong with me? Right? And at the end, nothing is wrong with us is just the trauma. I didn't know that about training that that. Yes, we have that very predominant in the West Indies. Yeah, Caribbean. And it's also very conflicting, right? Going to see the these spirits and then the church because it's, those are even for the mental health. It's not easy to manage. Because you see what I mean? You see these pages is this under you with this
guilt again, and shame you go back to the church, you know, it's very, it's heavy to carry anything. And then when you go to the church, you're thinking that the church, they're there to help you. And so when you tell someone in the church, oh, I'm depressed, they gotta pray. But then also when you tell them that, oh, I've been in the occult for eight years, and you're like, ooh, then they get it, then they're afraid of you. Yeah. Under afraid it's weird. And then they're afraid to associate with you. Because you, you used to hang with witches. You understand what I'm saying? Yeah. Then you're like, well, where can I find help, then? Yeah,
yeah. if everybody's telling you,
I believe that God heard my prayers, because I used to go to the abattoir St. Joseph, and just sit there. I used to go to Austin and just sit, pray, God, please help me. Like over and over again. God, please help me. I don't know what this is. Please help me. Please help me. And then just and he heard me, I tell you, he heard me so that the one of the last spirituals that I saw, he was right, it took a while it took a it took you know, but when I took my first antidepressant, that's when I knew God had heard me because I needed that antidepressants. Yeah, I needed it. And all of a sudden, the demons were gone. Right?
Yeah. Your brain, all of a sudden, you're in the present. You're not, you know, otherwise brain you're here. You know, you can feel your feelings, you know, you receive something, we attack you.
And you don't have intrusive thoughts. You know, so I talked about suicide right in the book. So I talked about the suicidal thoughts. Were very persistent, even while I'm not on medication right now, I have to be very vigilant because that's also a part of my illness. Right? It's, it's just a reoccurring, but then when it happens now, I'm like, okay, that's not a demonic thought. That's an that's an intrusion. That's a thought that's intruding my mind. And, you know, so now I know the tools. Okay, let me be self managed it. And let me get out of this. Right. So we need to be teaching the tools just before I went to Ontario, we had had a few suicides in the black community right here in Montreal. So just that alone is telling you something that people are really suffering in silence because for you to, you know, not not know where to go or where to get help. You know what I mean? You feel so alone, you feel hopeless. I've called the suicide hotline. I remember. I remember calling and the guy. I don't know how he did it. But just that conversation alone. I hung up the phone, and I was like, Okay, so I'm not going to commit suicide.
That's amazing. You know,
because we feel alone. It's the isolation. But reaching out, I tell people, you're suicidal, don't call a friend, do not call a friend. Okay? Don't call the suicide hotline. They're trained, they're equipped, right? And sometimes it's just that alone is able to regulate you back to, you know where you're at.
Yeah. Because people want the pain taken away. They don't want to actually die. They just want to stop the suffering. And it's to die. If you talk to the right person who has the right training, it could actually, as you said, Rick, with you and bring you back to the
Yes, don't call the police. Don't call the cops. You know, that's very important. Now, if you're feeling suicidal, do not call the police. You can possibly Call an ambulance, but call this call the suicide. In the back of my book, I give the list of all the resources, all the suicide hotlines, cut it out of the book, put it on your fridge. These are the resources you can call I get from Montreal in New York. But you can just look it up online.
Yeah, that's amazing. Yeah, so that people know where to go in case of crisis that's really necessary. Because with so much shame around trauma people, people don't feel comfortable talking about it, but it doesn't mean that they're suffering from it on a daily basis. I know you You went to a different city to write your book. So you decided to go to Waterloo. Yes. Thank you Instagram for all the information. So you went to Waterloo and you spend some time just focusing on writing your book.
That's why I finished the book, I wouldn't have been able to finish it in Montreal. I wouldn't have been able to look up one day, I'm like, Okay, time to go. And it was God. That's why I know, this is the Lord's work, you know, was God. I apply for an apartment Got it? didn't even know where it really was. I thought Waterloo was in Toronto. I thought it was. So like, I'm going to Toronto. The girl was like, No, this is Waterloo. I'm like water aware. And then, um, I researched it. I'm like, okay, it's an hour away from Toronto. So I'm thinking it's the suburbs. I get there. I remember being so scared. And I don't, I don't really do high rises. It was because I'm afraid of heights and stuff. It's in the tallest building. It's in a high rise. I'm like, What did I get myself into. And then I go there thinking, I'm going to be partying every two nights. And I'm going to be you know, having all these fancy dinners. I'm going to meet all these other bloggers. It didn't go the way I was expecting it. It actually happened, where I spent a lot of time alone. And I was resting a lot. And that's how I was able to write the book. Because the book reliving the trauma. So that's how I knew it was God even to come back to Montreal. It was it was God ordained. One of my friends came to Toronto to get like she came to Toronto and I came back to Montreal, I came back to Montreal, I didn't have a place to stay. She's like stay at my place. Like it was all God. It was it was all God. That's why the response to the book, you know, I don't care about best selling. It's that's not my that's not my goal. But I want people to know that there was there was it was ordained by you know, so it's gonna reach the people that are supposed to reach but that was what Allah was the one of the best experiences for me.
Wow, I'm really happy. And before we talked about saving, you mentioned symptoms of your mental illness. So were you ever diagnosed with a mental illness? And if you don't feel comfortable sharing, we don't talk about it. But well,
yeah, I was diagnosed with reoccurring depression. And definitely anxiety. That's why I was prescribed the medication, I was prescribed a very, very poignant points to note that when you're suffering from anxiety, your doctor may put you on antidepressants. So when my doctor when I was like, okay, you need to give me something I can't take active. And every day when he was telling me he was putting me on antidepressants. I was still in denial. I was like, Oh, no, I'm not depressed. I just needed for the anxiety. And he's looking at me, like I've been telling you, you've been depressed for a long time. And you have you know, so I went through it with my family doctor who has been following me since I've been a child. And so that's how I went the route. But also, when you're working, you have an employer, sometimes your employer, your insurance, you know, covers a lot of your evaluations, and a lot of, you know, your counseling. So I did go through that as well. So, the reoccurring depression, I cannot necessarily call it bipolar. Because bipolar, you have a different kind of mania. I just have it, it's reoccurring. So it's almost like a chemical in my brain. Maybe there's not enough serotonin. So that's why I take the central in right to get the serotonin levels
up. You said something that struck me that your doctor said that you were depressed for years. Because the thing is, we don't know the science of depression. I think many of us in the black community we are depressed and we don't even know we are just getting used to living with that suffering. Yet, as you said before being a you know, that brave black woman pushing forward being the dependable sister, mother, Auntie everything you don't even know especially when it starts early. In childhood. I remember the first day I saw a family doctor, and then I explained how I was feeling and he asked some questions and he told me, I think you've been depressed since you were a child. I never went back to him. I just yeah. I was so angry. How can he? How does he? That's how I felt when my doctor first told me that. Yes, I was. I say I never went back to that. You know? Yes. Oh, yes. No, and then Now I look back now I'm sorry, for setting like since I was like, eight, nine years old, you know, but it's just that you that's, that's all you've known. So you know how to mask it move forward, take exams graduate, you know, you just and then you just manage it behind closed What's wrong with me? Why am I feeling like this and things like that. But you're you're right many of us. Even if it shows up at one point, we don't recognize the signs of depression, you know, it was they are a bit slow these days. It's so it's hard for me to go brush my teeth, we don't come to see it say that. Actually, it's a health problem. You know, it's like breaking a limb. It's really a health problem that has to be addressed. Because it impacts if you're like a more manual depressive may impact everyone around you. And most people don't even realize that they are depressed or it takes time sometimes to see that they are anxious. There was a doctor here at the University of Ottawa. Oh, you're in Ottawa. I'm in Gatineau. Okay, okay, I left that area. Okay. Am I getting there. So this is a prophet, a Haitian professor at the University of Ottawa who, like he does his research on the black community, like mental health of the black community. And he was saying that because we have such a hard time putting words to how we feel, and to our mental states, it shows up in our bodies as pains back pain, this pain, you know, always pains everywhere pains, pains, but it's just all the things that we cannot voice we cannot work to we cannot release. So it gets stuck inside. And it shows up in our body. Yeah, it was during the Black History Month. And he did that presentation. I was just, you know. Yeah, that make sense? Yes. This podcast is for black women like you and me. So for for for the black sisters out there. What what what message would you like to, to send to them?
That you are worth getting help for? You are worth it? Right? Because we're unconsciously programmed to believe that, you know, under a lot of layers that we don't deserve that, you know, but we deserve to get the help for us. And also getting help is your responsibility. It's not the responsibility of somebody else. Right? You have to get healthy for you.
Yeah, that's so important. Yeah. As much as I used to hate hearing that, the day I understood that, the only person who will make things better for me is me. Where you know, things change. Totally. And it's okay to go see a therapist, it's okay to go to therapy. See, reach out for help. If you need help, right. What could I wish you for your book. I wish many people will buy your book, people will discover your book. That's very kind of you really know, I'm really very excited. I thank you for having the courage to write holy like this about your experience, even even parts that you know, that people would be scared about. But it's so educational. Because I think for you, too. It brings you freedom not to have to, you know, hide parts. I used to be like, wait, why did I stay? highkey? Let me think, oh, let me rewind. No, now it's just, you know, I'm just here now. So what are we what it is? Yeah. I love it. When are you going to get to that as a level of peace? Right? That's it, you know, we're not gonna go to try to look smart. No, that's it. Yeah. Amazing to get to that. And I wish many of us we get to that level of acceptance of ourselves. And, you know, and really, as you said, that we are worthy of being well. Yeah, so lots of success to your book. I receive it. Thank you very much. I receive it. Yeah. I can't wait for my copy to come tomorrow.
Yeah, and you know, when when one person steps up and freeze their voice like this, it gives courage to so many people. And as we've been saying, even people you wouldn't expect reach out to you and say, Hey, you know, I, what you're saying here speaks to me, because it's also my experience. And sometimes you're like, Whoa, you to like because why? Yeah, you know, and it takes the bravery of petrona to, you know,
there's many of us. There's many of us. You know, there's many of us and then you're going to write your book as well. And that's going to also shed another light, you know, and it will educate women like myself, you know what I mean? Because it's all about education. Yeah,
yeah. Yeah. Because when we know better, I believe we can do better. I think that for all of us for everyone. Okay, so thank you so much. Pleasure. Thank you.