Seasonal Changes

I spend so much time thinking about the various aspects of my life where I have once been passionate & have now become lukewarm or complacent. I often give myself a hard time trying to get back to the feeling I once had that had me on fire. However, today I had revelation. As hard as I am on myself & as hard as you are on yourself about things like this; everything has it’s time & it has it’s season.

Sometimes we spend so much time trying to hold on to a past feeling or experience that we forget to relish in the experience that we are experiencing right now. Even if it does not feel the way it once felt; this particular moment in time is relevant & it matters. I am coming to the realization that we are not supposed to be on fire all the time; we need moments that appear “bland” to reflect, recharge & give ourselves the mercy we often withhold from ourselves.

These are the opportunities that were created to give ourselves grace. These are the moments that make us remember that we are human & that although we desire more, every moment is not for obtaining but sometimes it’s to abstain. However, keep in mind, as hard as we are on ourselves, what we consider as our lack of effort is inspiring to someone else. We have put in so much work during the times we are motivated, that most people do not even notice when we have plateaued into complacency. As much as we would like to keep going, our battery runs out & we owe it to ourselves to be ok with not “going” all the time.

Just like platonic & romantic relationships experience seasons, the different phases of our lives are much like seasons too. Each year we experience special conditions that will either ignite something new in us or require us to dead something old. Too often, we are too stubborn to accept the transition & we blame ourselves during these transitions because we continously fail to accept that this is a normal occurrence of life. So if you spend more times than not feeling like me; I just want to remind you today to be gentle with yourself. What is meant for you will not miss you & every single thing has divine timing. You may be late getting there but I promise you, the breaks, the setbacks & the distractions have been accounted for on your journey. As long as you find the time to give grace in the process– you are doing just fine.

Purpose

After each traumatic experience, we always have to find it within ourselves to pick up & start over again. Many times it takes a lot to dig deep & find the things that inspired us to be great in the first place. But what I discovered is the most difficult is not allowing the effects of the trauma to keep us from our purpose. If we lose our purpose, we lose fuel & we lose desire to keep going. What many people fail to realize is that we are called to be so much more than what we give ourselves credit for. Although our experiences make us who we are; they do not define us. So if we consistently allow those experiences to deter us from the things we are purposed to do; we have given our trauma the upper hand.

Nothing that has happened or will happen is by happenstance. However, keep in mind that all the miracles that you will partake in (known & unknown) didn’t happen by a coincidence either. There is a greater purpose with a greater picture. After the trauma passes, you will have a new appreciation of life that will allow you to make the impact on this earth that you were destined to have.

But first, heal.

Take all the time you need but make sure you take the time to invest in yourself so you jump back in like you never left. Unfortunately, trauma is inevitable. We can’t control what people do or say to us. What happens to us is not always fair & we surely don’t ask for it. We don’t always understand the effects the trauma we experience will have on us; but certainly every single time we are faced with a choice; we can actively choose to win.

You must actively choose to win. Your purpose is counting on it.

Healing is Hard… Heal Anyway!

Happy Sunday Ladies! Y'all have no idea how excited I am today! Not only is this the first Guest Inspiration that Nickkie&Co. has had in a long time; the first one in 2022! But this Guest Inspiration, Yaazmyn Rosa, is very dear to my heart. Yaaz is a phenomenal woman. Mother, sister, nurse, podcast co-host (Tap into it: Shot of Discourse) & friend are just a few titles she holds.  She is what one would describe as fierce, strong & inspiring. But what has been exciting about her has been her willingness to be super transparent about her need to heal & her desire to be a better person to herself FOR herself; FOR a change.  I am truly honored to have been on the sidelines watching her journey as she questioned the things she thought she knew, challenged new perspectives & required herself to put herself first. So ladies, please welcome our first Nickkie&CO. Guest Inspiration of 2022 with open arms; she has a testimony. 

Who knew the journey to healing was going to be this hard? I always liked to think of myself as being strong. Growing up I had no choice but to be strong due to the cards God dealt me. The problem with that is, I wasn’t taught to be strong for me, I was taught to be strong for everybody else. I had to be strong for my mom because she had lost everybody close to her (my uncles, her mom, my great grand-mother) and all she had left was me , her only child. I mean she had my aunt too but not really because addiction had her. I had to be strong for a father that chose his addiction over me. I had to be strong for my great-grandmother when she lost my great-grandfather and when she became I’ll. Crazy, isn’t it?! So there I was a little girl taking on such a huge responsibility not knowing what was to come. All that being strong for everybody else cost me the most important strength of all, my own.

By my adults years, I had grown so accustomed to making sure everyone around was good that I never made sure I was good. As a matter of fact, let me change that, if everyone around me was okay, so was I. My strength and happiness became reliant on everyone around me. When they were good, I was good but when they were down, I was down. The co-dependency on others landed me at this exact moment with these feelings of not knowing who the hell I am and not knowing how to choose me and put me first. I only know me when it comes to others, smh. Here I am at my big old age trying to figure out who I am, what I like, what I dislike, what I want without anybody else’s input and when I tell you this has been the hardest thing ever, mannnn listen.

God forced me to begin to really do the work in the last 6 months of 2021. Life started spiraling and I felt like I was having a breakdown or breakthrough, depending on how you look at it. I hit rock bottom and was just stuck. Depression was not new to me but this time it just felt different. This time I couldn’t shake it. I had to do some deep soul searching to get myself out of this dark place. It felt like I began to question EVERY thing, my purpose, my faith, my friends, my family, my career, myself, literally everything. Nothing was fun to me anymore, nothing was bringing me joy anymore, it was just pure darkness and heaviness. Not even my daughter could get me out of this funk. I remember crying everyday and just asking God to make it all stop. I remember asking God to let me just feel light or not feel at all. I was so tired of being strong, I wanted to be weak. But I also felt like being weak was weak and that’s not who I was raised to be. So I began to break that generational curse and challenge myself to think and act differently. I am far from where I need to be but I am doing the work to get there. Healing is not linear.

I say all this to say give yourself grace! Please choose yourself every time! It’s okay to not be strong in times of weakness! Only rely on God and yourself because most people are always going to choose themselves.

I’ve spoken on how I came to begin my healing journey, now I am challenging you (in a positive way) to begin yours. It doesn’t matter how old you are or where you are in life, that hardest part is always starting, but just do it! You owe it to yourself to value yourself and pour all the love for everybody else into YOU! I pray whoever reads this gets inspired to dig deep and start their healing journey. Understand that some days will be harder than others, maybe even most days but do not let that discourage you from continuing to do the work. Let’s break these generational curse together. Let’s love ourselves more than anything and anyone besides God. Let’s live like we’ve never lived before! I wish you self love, self understanding, self worth and self peace.

Xoxoxo – Yaaz 💙

I pray whoever reads this gets inspired to dig deep and start their healing journey.

I Was Ungrateful…

It’s so amazing to see how God has been using me and we just started the New Year. I am seeing confirmation that when you stop trying to do things your way & let God take control he will elevate your life in ways you’ll wonder why you didn’t let him do it his way from the beginning.

Twenty twenty-two just started & I already can recognize the difference in the way that God will & is using me. Last year my perspective was different & if I was truly honest, I will admit that I spent the majority of last year truly ungrateful & resentful. I was so unappreciative of the little things that even the larger things didn’t have the impact that I needed them to have.

Do you understand what it feels like to have to admit that? That although everyday I try my hardest to walk in gratitude, something that typically came easy to me, no longer was. I found little joy in the things that made me recognize God’s presence. As a result, I spent most of last year, lost, unsatisfied & disgusted. Even as I started each day new, I still sat in the past resentful & frustrated. I was even untrusting. Everything I trusted, I stopped trusting all because, unbeknownst to me, I made an active decision to be ungrateful, to stop taking in the little-BIG things that kept me going, humble, eager & enlightened.

As I reflect back, I recognize, I can never let that happen to me again. People often think that the worst things that you can experience come from experiences imposed by other people. But sometimes the worse thing we can ever experience are the inflictions we inflict upon ourselves. Sometimes we get so caught up in our own experiences that we don’t even realize that sometimes we are the reason for our own destruction. The mindset we set forth when we face a new situation really will makes a difference. I’m grateful now that I can see it & that I am actively willing to make decisions to change last year’s trajectory this year.

I never want to feel like I felt last year; null & void & purposeless. I surely will never want that for you. I pray that my desire for more never makes me ungrateful again. Instead I pray it keeps me humble enough to remember the grace on my life.

I wish the same for you. Pay attention to the nudges that remind you that you are still alive; there’s still a journey to be had. Don’t let yourself get so discouraged that you become blind to the blessings around you. Take it all in. The good, the bad, the amazing, the ugly. God will surely turn every single thing in your favor. Let the fact that the best of your life is still approaching upon horizon & use that to keep you motivated. Do not forget the things that make you feel alive. Appreciate your creative instincts & sit in them; enjoy them; share them. Use life to give you purpose, not to take it away.

And graciously experience your experiences.

Esther 4:14

Today Nickkie&Co. turns 4 years old & although I will extend myself some grace, I recognize where I have short changed myself & what this platform represents. I created Nickkie&Co. to be a voice for those still looking to step into theirs. With all that has been going on, somehow, I have let life stifle me of my most fierce weapon, the reason why this platform has been so powerful & why it even exists.

I let life silence my voice.

My voice is my light.

I actively live my life deliberately making a decision to make an impact on the life of another. However, at some point I made a conscious decision to stop doing so. I let the chaos of the world take my peace, the things that bring me comfort & the motivating factors that propel me to keep going. So today, I encourage you to not only extend yourself grace but to remind you to never let the happenings of the world rob you of your light. Your light is so beautiful & unique & it would be horrible if the world never got to experience it again.

Sometimes we get so caught up in the things that are happening around us that we forget that we need our light too. Don’t be the reason it’s dull. YOU need YOU too. Actually, this is the time when WE & YOU need YOU most.

You were created for such a time as this. -Esther 4:14

Happy New Year Everyone & Happy Birthday to my love child, the platform for my light.

We have some work to do.

Blooming Above Domestic Violence


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Welcome back Conglomerates! Today, we have another brave & courageous Guest Inspiration, Tejal, who opted to share her testimony with us as a domestic violence survivor. Despite what her story looks like she exudes self-love & loves the skin she is in. She is forthcoming with her story to remind others that they are not alone & survival can be accomplished. It is with much gratitude, appreciation & respect that I present to you today, Conglomerate Tejal…

Hello my name is Tejal also known as the makeup artist, lifestyle blogger, @brightdollface & writer of BloomingKiss Poetry, @bloomingkisspoetry. I recently ended my eleven year relationship with my ex-fiancé about two years ago. I was twenty-five years old at the time. I met him while I was dealing with my parent’s situation at home with domestic violence (D.V.).  I came from a household of alcohol not drugs. When I met him; he was seventeen years old & I started dating him at the age of fourteen. I decided to share my testimony as a domestic violence survivor because I know this will resonate with someone, somewhere.

When we began our relationship I recognized that he would smoke cigarettes but I did not know of his drinking nor of him smoking marijuana. I was never exposed to drugs so I was naive & was not able to comprehend the use of substances or the consequences other than alcohol. When I began to notice his heavy drinking and marijuana use, I became upset & told him he needed to stop using. I realized it was a coping mechanism for him to deal with his life issues — being an undocumented immigrant without hardly any family here & helping his family back in Honduras, Central America.

In the first couple years of our relationship, he was sweet & kind. But then he began to use cocaine, which I did not realize until later on when we moved from his father’s apartment to our own; in the next building over. I began to notice he became angrier & aggressive but I questioned why if I did nothing but help both of us out. I remember one night he became so angry, he must have been high; all I could recall was being on the floor in my kitchen crying with him on top of me. He hit me & the next day he apologized. I blacked out in that instant. I sustained an injury by him. My neighbors overheard & they wanted to call the police but I did not want to because he was undocumented & I did not want to see him deported. I forgave him because I loved him & I could not go back home to the situation with my parents.

As we moved back to his father’s, I could see that something had changed in him for the worse. This was when I was almost finished with my bachelor’s degree in 2013. I could tell he was using a stronger substance. Subsequently, I then noticed he would be out late for hours & I assumed he was cheating. He confessed one night & told me he was not cheating; he was addicted to Crack Cocaine. He then lost his job as a Baker & was out of work for two years. I graduated from College with my Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology & minor in Sociology in 2013, despite the struggles & issues I faced overall in life –at home & in our relationship, but most of all throughout all the abuse I succumbed. I obtained a fulltime job in social services as a Case Planner in New York City at a foster care agency. I was able to remain resilient despite being verbally, physically mentally & emotionally abused. It became harder & harder to leave him.

I maintained us both for those two years until I decided to leave one night. He had hit me so hard while I fought back because he tried to steal my cellphone, once again, to pawn it like he did my engagement ring, my jewelry my father gave me, tablets I had to purchase multiple times & my computer I needed while in Grad School, etc. I had family support & left to my other father’s home in Queens. I remained there until I obtained my own apartment in Jersey. Throughout his addiction in the last four to five years of our relationship, the first two years were the worst, it felt as if I was in hell, literally. He would take my cards, my money, steal my phone, tell me drug dealers were trying to kill him if he did not pay. I did not know how the streets functioned regarding drugs so, I believed him. I lost so much money but I lost him the day he began addicted to crack & I lost him even before as he transitioned from alcohol to marijuana to cocaine and to crack.

But my life was more important to me than losing him. I had lost myself so deep over the years. I hated who I had become. I was angry & I had hurt myself by overeating. I believed every word he would tell me. I was angry that I was abandoned by my parents & had to fend for myself. I entered such a toxic relationship after leaving a toxic home where I needed the love directly from my parents & no one else. I ended our relationship so many times. I moved away & he moved with me to the new apartment & so forth, but this time it was for good. I enabled him so much & I relied on his presence. I became so co-dependent on him which resulted by him always manipulating me, even when it came to my friends & family by making me think they did not care for me. It took time to heal. It took everything to fight to be here today, to love myself whole heartedly, to love who I am & not be ashamed (because boy, oh, boy, was I ashamed of myself for staying in this relationship). I was ashamed of being a domestic violence victim like my mother who stayed with my father until he passed away 7 years ago due to his alcoholism.

I broke the cycle & I say that with so much courage & bravery. It took me to unlearn everything I became & all the negative learned behaviors & thoughts to be here today. I was in therapy during & after leaving the eleven year relationship. My support system–  my previous supervisors, friends & family would tell me to leave. I tried but I thought he would change for us & for him but he could not. He had me believe he would but he never did. He tried, we went to Narcotics Anonymous groups but he stopped attending. He believed he could become sober on his own but he just could not. I had to become “sick & tired of being sick & tired” of hurting myself & staying in that relationship.

It took so much strength that I had to find within me & my faith in God. I prayed every night for strength to continue on. I felt so trapped. And here I am. Tejal, shining bright. Using her voice to tell her testimony to remind you all that YOU CAN OVERCOME. I believe in you! Understand that it will take time to heal. You must put the work in for YOU because at the end of the day, this is for YOU. Leaving a domestic violence situation is never easy but know you have support even if you feel alone. Trust, I felt so alone especially because I hardly have family that are not toxic.

So if you feel alone, please contact your local precinct or the National Domestic Violence Hotline 1−800−799−7233 or TTY 1−800−787−3224. Please know, you are important, loved & not alone. I use to think this only happened to me until I met a woman in Graduate school who also went through the same as I did, as a domestic violence survivor. My nurse at my clinic also disclosed that she too, was/is a domestic violence survivor. As I began to speak up & tell my story,  I no longer felt alone.

Today I stand before you as Tejal, a recent graduate with my Masters Degree in Social Work from Rutgers University, graduating class of 2018. Living & breathing in peace. and No longer living in chaos, as well as,  loving myself so much harder each every day than ever before.

Love & Light to you all, beautiful souls

XOXO.

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“Leaving a domestic violence relationship is never easy but know you have support, even if you feel alone… You are important & loved” – Tejal Parekh

“Snipping” it in The Bud

Gold scissorsHappy Sunday Conglomerates. Today I am excited to announce that we have another guest inspiration, Lashonda Simpson, who took the time to write for us today. She was severely intimidated to write this memoir but put what she believed to be her limitations to the side to share with us. She is another amazing individual who believes in the Nickkie&CO.’s motive to empower, uplift & push women to their maximum potential. She has been a constant supporter & an advocate for valuing our self worth & addressing things that may threaten it.

Good morning Conglomerates! Today’s topic is on “nipping things in the bud”. Some people, including myself, depending on the situation, allow things to bother them and effect their day wondering how or if they should have responded differently to something that has occurred to them earlier. When things are not dealt with immediately they have the potential to linger. Nipping things in the bud is the requirement to face & deal with things right then and there. This keeps things from boiling over & nagging you until you are over consumed by it. Being over consumed by something keeps you from dealing with things more deserving of your time.

This concept or mentality can pertain and be used in your everyday life. For instance, day-to-day responsibilities such as paying a bill above your current means can be addressed with the same approach. Instead of putting the situation off until the last minute and not paying it, nipping the situation in the bud would be contacting the company to set up a payment arrangement that does not overwhelm you. Dealing with it directly, you do not have to worry about paying a large amount of money that you did not budget for or deal with harassing phone calls from the company or collection agencies. Dealing with these situations directly eliminates unnecessary stress.

Other, more common scenarios, include verbal and physical communication with other people that you may or may not agree with. There are instances when people will say or do things that offend us and we opt not to rebuttal under the pretense that “that is just the way they are” but the error in not dealing with the matter at the time gives them permission to continue with offensive behavior. When people are out of line and we allow them to continue with the behavior, we send the message that they should feel comfortable being rude to us. No one should feel comfortable being rude to us. Therefore, we must nip it in the bud.

This can be done in a way that is not rude or aggressive but expresses to them that they have offended you & you should be respected. Dealing with it keeps from continuous behavior & avoids the build up. Also, in this, it is not anyone’s place to tell you that their behavior was not offensive. Whether it was intentional or not, how you feel is how you feel. If you feeloffended it is your right to feel that way. If you are uncomfortable with their behavior; deal with it. I have been there myself. I have allowed individuals to say anything to me and I have really let it to bother me. As I have gotten older, I have leaned how to express how I feel at that very moment and I have felt good about doing it right then and there.

So if we practice nipping these situations in the bud, we will have more energy and time to devote to the joys and excitements in our lives. When we allow things to linger over us, we become consumed with stress that keeps us from enjoying all the beauty that life has to offer us. Though addressing certain situations may appear intimidating, no one wants to deal with them days, weeks, months or years down the line. That is a long time to allow something to manifest when other things can be explored or experienced within that time span. Whether it is a bill or an interaction with another individual, as women there are an array of things we face on a daily basis that could be eliminated if we deal with them directly. Officially, in pursuit of advocating on our self worth, we should keep this in mind. Use the extra time and energy toward something more deserving because we face too many situations when we are not heard nipping things in the bud should not be one of them.

 

XO.

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Shonda
“It is not anyone’s place to tell you that their behavior was not offensive. Whether it was intentional or not, how you feel is how you feel. If you felt offended it is your right to feel that way”. -Lashonda

Daddy’s Little Girl

Father’s Day is today & I will be honest enough to tell you that until recently I really did not know how to celebrate Father’s Day. Aside from buying my mother a card & a small gift or wishing my uncles a Happy Father’s Day; I never thought much more about the day because it never has had much significance in my life.

As you have read in my memoirs, Accepting Failure & The Best Side of Me , I was raised by a single mother who for a good while posed the role of “dad” in my life. I cannot tell you what it is like to have my biological father love me, love into me, protect me or be an example of the kind of man I should marry. Though in the past I have tried to, I have failed to recognize if any of his features look back at me when I stare at my reflection in the mirror. Even if it was possible, I would not even know what feature of his to compare it to because his face is not a face I have seen in my lifetime. But even in his absence certain things are very clear to me. Though I cannot visualize a face to his name, he has given me a clear visual of the type of man I would not want to be the father of my children or the kind of man I will not raise my son to be. Though in the past it often left me feeling unwanted; I am totally ok with his absence. Because if I told you what my heart feels you would understand my lack of curiosity.

Despite not having a father in my life, I do know what it is like to be loved by someone who did not have a hand in physically creating me but has had a significant impact on the person I am today. I know what it is to be reprimanded through love & given advice by someone who looked at me (though not his) as a little girl who was worth it. I know what it is to have someone remind me every day that blood is not always thicker & love means more than any last name I could be given. I also know that it takes a special person to look at me, regardless of the times I have attempted to throw him away & still claim me as his.

Even if he is not my biological father you can not tell me he is not my dad. As an adult I can reflect on the lessons he has taught me. It is because of him I am honest. He taught me that I must be accountable for what I say. I know it is because of him I am a realist because all things are not always just black & white. He taught me how to throw my first punch & he was on my side when I finally told Mom that I no longer wanted to wear cartoon characters on my clothes (she was crushed). Even as I transitioned through my life the lessons have never stopped coming.

Up until May 2017, my mother & him have not seen each other in over 15 years. Yet, somehow, he & I have maintained our relationship. A relationship that truly grows stronger as I get older. I am older now & do not take for granted how blessed my life has been with his presence. It was not until I turned 25 that I started to call him dad & that is the only sure way I can tell him I love him just as much as he loves me.

I struggled growing up without a biological father. I was hurt that my family did not look like others & I was bruised because I could not understand why my biological father did not want me. I learned really early on though, that it had nothing to do with me but everything to do with him & his inability to accept himself which in turn made him unable to accept me. In his absence though, I have learned the most valuable lesson I could ever learn all my life. Take heed to this lesson as it will save you from blaming yourself from the things you cannot control. This alone will remind you that you are worth more than what someone else may have overlooked. You cannot change the minds of the people who choose not to stay. In turn, you should always value the people who have chosen to stay even when you have made it hard for them. I learned to be grateful for the people God has removed from my life because I can only imagine what I have been protected from. I believe God removes people & places people in your life because he knows the impact their energy can have on you. I promise I thank God often for placing a “stranger” in my life when I was two & making him one of my very best friends at twenty-nine. Life is all about experiences that mold you. What others see as a sad story is actually a success story for me. There are not many people who are as “rich” as I am. Despite the odds they said were against me, it is so lit to have someone who has invested in me so much that even my mom cringes from the similarities (lol). I have been blessed beyond compare & I thank him so much for choosing me. Happy Father’s Day, Dad.

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Image: https://www.stfinnbarr.org/apps/news/article/684582

Conquering Lupus

Good Morning Conglomerates! Today we have another courageous Guest Inspiration here to share her story with us for LUPUS AWARENESS MONTH. Tiger is another fierce conglomerate who is using her experiences to remind you that regardless of the circumstances it is going to be ok! She shares with us the importance of self care, perseverance & finding your strength within your “weakness”. #Nickkie&CoWearsPurpleForTiger

Hi Ladies! Anyone who knows me calls me Tiger; if this is our first-time meeting, it’s truly an honor & thank you for reading.

I’m almost 25 years young but almost every day I feel as if I’m twice my age, trapped in someone else’s body. I feel robbed, I feel betrayed, & quite frankly; I used to be angry as hell.

I started this journey with my autoimmune disease right around my 21st birthday. I was in a draining relationship, working 3 jobs and putting myself through college when my whole world came crashing down. I had simply been feeling “off” for a while. I got random rashes that would come and go. I was always a woman that ran so my joints hurting wasn’t uncommon either. Even when my hair was falling out it seemed normal to me. I had become so out of tune with myself that I really didn’t notice anything at all. However, my various blood tests over the months is what made my doctors dig deeper. A few weeks after what should have been one of my biggest birthdays, turned into an everyday struggle to affirm “Your story doesn’t end here”.

I suffer from a disease called Systematic Lupus Erythematous. To simply put it, my body attacks itself at random and is unable to defend or maintain. My symptoms can vary but, most commonly I’m extremely fatigued, I may develop rashes on my body, I’ve lost a lot of my hair, my organ systems can shut down & it’s incredibly hard to move around without feeling extreme pain. Every single day is difficult for me.

When I was first diagnosed, I cried for hours. I locked myself in my room, laid back in bed & pretended the last few days were just a bad dream I needed to wake up from. I was overcome with the thought that I was dying. To hear that there wasn’t a cure & not a lot of research, was what really knocked the air out of my lungs. I couldn’t just live a normal life & once again, it seemed the devil was robbing me of my light. I HAD PLANS… I was going to practice medicine, I was going to open my sneaker store, I had to see my siblings graduate & I was going to be the rich auntie that sent money filled cards & traveled the world. I couldn’t die yet. I wasn’t done living! I spent more time in various doctor’s office than anywhere else. I had about 6 pills to take everyday and those pills changed every few months when they stopped working for me. It seemed like my rheumatologist (doctor who specializes in Lupus) would only have bad news. I had to cut my hair off, I dropped about 15 pounds &  it looked like life was being sucked out of me.

I fell into a deep depression. I refused to let anyone help me, I didn’t want to talk about my feelings & I certainly didn’t want to go see any of my various doctors. I figured if I could ignore my pain long enough it would simply go away. I had no idea what self-care was nor, did I understand anything about mental health. I was raised to suck it up & keep moving because there was no time to feel & healing could happen along the way. The finish line was moving every single day & if I stopped even for a minute, I’d never make it to the end. So, exactly what do you do on the days when your body is telling you to rest but the world refuses to let up just for a moment? YOU TAKE CARE OF YOU FIRST!

You must understand that direction is much more important than speed. Don’t allow yourself to run blind & fast. I desperately wish someone would have told me this & stressed the importance. As women we naturally put ourselves aside in the name of business. But if you keep teaching yourself to put yourself last, how will anyone ever learn to put you first? Self-care is absolutely something everyone needs to learn. I still struggle with this but after learning that healing looked different for everyone, it became easier. For me, I listen to a lot of podcasts; specifically, Elevation Worship. I learned to listen to my body so, I’m a plant-based Vegan. I write music, I dance terribly, I love purely & intensely and seek God relentlessly. Living with lupus at such a young age isn’t easy but I don’t walk around defeated. Some days I don’t have the strength to lift my head, other days I’m putting on makeup to cover up my scars & on all those days I’m thankful to still be here. What I want to stress to anyone reading this is, it’s going to be okay. Whether you have lupus or another autoimmune disease, or any problem at all, you’re going to make it. We will all die someday so while you are here; don’t forget to enjoy the view. My world crashes in pieces everyday but I’ve learned to continuously build a new one out of the pieces I have left. What I’m trying to tell you is to simply breathe & find your footing. Even on the days that seem dark, make sure you keep at least one person around as your lighthouse to guide you back home. I promise you, you can endure more than you think.

If my story touched you in anyway please feel free to rock purple any day this month in solidarity for those who have Lupus. If purple isn’t your color, that’s fine too! However, I challenge you to make a list of three methods to self-care for Mental Health awareness month.

I’m rooting for you.

Take care.

XO.

“We will all die someday so while you are here; don’t forget to enjoy the view.”

ENDO WARRIOR

Good morning Conglomerates. Today I am honored to announce that Nickkie&Co. has a new guest writer that is here today to use her experiences to help other woman who may struggle with a similar or the same chronic condition she does. Eugenia is a super woman – nurse by day, model by “night”- who intends to use her platform, experience & expertise to spread awareness on a condition that marks & effects the lives of many women while finding a natural cure to a said cureless condition. I pray in reading this post that you are inspired to advocate & research your health concerns so women no longer feel silenced by their conditions but feel strength & confidence in knowing that other women are fighting as well. So, I present to you conglomerate/ENDO WARRIOR, Eugenia Odonkor BSN, RN.

img_3278Hello Conglomerates! I am ecstatic to be a guest for Nickkie&Co.! My name is Eugenia and today, I will share with you my battle with ENDOMETRIOSIS.

Endometriosis (en-doe-me-tree-O-sis) is an often painful disorder in which tissue that normally lines the inside of your uterus — the endometrium — grows outside your uterus (endometrial implant). Endometriosis most commonly involves your ovaries, bowel or the tissue lining your pelvis. It can even travel up to your brain! Endometriosis can cause pain — sometimes severe. It affects more women than breast cancer but you probably never heard of it. It’s not terminal but it’s also incurable and affects 176 million women!

Growing up, I remember almost all of my female friends talking about their period. They spoke of their experiences and I always felt left out wondering when my menarche would occur. My menarche finally made its appearance at the age of 14, the summer before I became a freshman in high school. It occurred overnight but I hadn’t known until I woke up that morning that I had had my first menses. That night, I tossed and turned in so much pain. I remember telling my mom and my grandma that I wasn’t feeling well and that although it didn’t appear the way everyone spoke about it, it was indeed my menses. This was only the beginning.

A few cycles after that, I noticed I had become increasingly sick prior to my menses. I would have painful ovulation and then when my actual menses would occur, I would have symptoms of nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, fainting spells, anorexia (loss of appetite which lead to my having a hard time keeping weight on), etc. I would also be bed and bathroom ridden for the first day of almost every period. This occurred on and off for years! I had suffered in silence for years.

I recall seeing a female gynecologist for a Pap smear (a very TERRIFYING experience for me to this day) who poked fun at me for being in pain during this “quick” procedure. She said, “I should’ve given you a mirror! You should’ve seen your face! It wasn’t that serious!” Of course, I didn’t think twice about continuing to see that gynecologist ever again.

I had given up. I didn’t think I could make it through. I was mentally, physically, and spiritually exhausted. I would miss school and/or work. I almost failed a course because I was too sick to walk let alone go sit through a final exam. Thank God my professor was understanding and allowed me to take the exam when I felt better. During my years of suffering, I ran from doctor to doctor. I had become a test dummy for medications that would just exacerbate whatever was going on with me. Nothing was working. I went for second, third and even fourth opinions. Some would say, “These are normal period symptoms”. Another would refer me to see a Gastroenterologist. One doctor, I had driven 4 hours to go see in Hershey, PA, prescribed futile pain medications. One of these medications was an old antidepressant whose off label use was for pain. I’d sleep all day and have nightmares. This is when I knew I wasn’t “crazy”.

One day, I had done some research and stumbled across a male, Penn Medicine doctor. I decided to give this male a chance because after my experience with aforementioned gynecologist, I vowed to never see another female gynecologist again! You would think a female would empathize with another female since we have the same “parts” but NO! In my opinion, they seem to be rougher. This OB-GYN turned out to be amazing. In fact, as soon as I described my symptoms to him, the first thing he said was, “I think you have Endometriosis.” And I replied, “I think I do too!” Immediately, he scheduled me for a Laparoscopy (an exploratory surgery that is used to diagnose the disease). I was diagnosed by my doctor and also surgeon, at the age of 21, with Endometriosis. Interestingly enough, I hadn’t had a lot of affected areas but suffered so greatly. He cauterized those affected areas and I was fine. I felt great.

However, this was unfortunately not the end of it. I had to have another surgery because I just didn’t feel right. I had to go with my gut and relay my feelings to my gynecologist. Another laparoscopy scheduled. He found twice the amount as the first surgery. All I did was cry post surgery. Even with my family by my side I felt so alone and hopeless. How could one disease make one feel so defeated? I’d always ask God, “Why me?”

In between those surgeries, I had a colonoscopy, cystoscopy and even visited a fertility doctor to rule out the return of the “Enigmatic Endometriosis.” My doctor could not believe that I was still symptomatic! Every time I came for another appointment, he always said, “Eugenia, your condition really has me scratching my head.” He was just as tired as I was- tired of trying to figure out why I was always sick and never free from feeling better. It would seem I had gotten worse. Again, my gut told me, I needed another surgery. He frowned upon going in again but I begged for a third laparoscopy. May 18, 2015, I had had my final laparoscopy. We both were baffled to have found only a few, small affected areas. Keep in mind that one may have small areas and suffer greatly as opposed to another woman who may have extended amounts of affected areas and be simply asymptomatic. My doctor cauterized (burned outside of the uterus) his findings then said that in order to keep from being symptomatic, I must shut my reproductive system down to make it think it’s in menopause, in order for this disease to SLOW DOWN. I emphasize those words because sadly, this disease is incurable.

I was put on Lupron, a medication that puts the female reproductive system into pseudo-menopause (after months of not wanting to try it due to the horror stories I saw on google) to temporarily inhibit the disease from feeding off of my own hormones. Lupron ended up being my savior. The down side to this is that I can not be on this medication consecutively past one year. Side effects include bone loss; what I’m currently suffering from. I have to consume Calcium and another medication called Aygestin (Norethindrone; “add back therapy”) concurrently with the Lupron to keep from acquiring other diseases such as Osteoporosis.

Due to insurance issues, I no longer see the Penn Doctor who diagnosed me with the disease. I am forever grateful for him. He actually listened to me and empathized. He was Heaven-sent!

I found another male OB-GYN who was highly recommended to continue my care. My Lupron deadline had approached and my new OB-GYN placed me on DEPO PROVERA. This was also a nightmare because I bled and had cramping for an entire month STRAIGHT. I made an appointment to explain what was occurring and during my appointment, I was told that I need to have a Hysteroscopy/ Dilatation and Curettage done to explore the cause of bleeding. It was found that I had had a polyp on my vaginal wall. That too was cauterized.

I am currently back on Lupron. Although I’m on the medication, I have occasional unexpected flare ups and they especially happen when I am stressed. I plan on putting a halt to the usage of this medication and finding natural/homeopathic remedies to feel better.

Despite all of my tribulations, I attained my Bachelor of Science in Nursing, I try to remain positive and keep my faith in God.

I wish this story had a happy ending. I wish I can say I’m cured from this disease but unfortunately, I am not. With my Nursing background, I plan on discovering a NATURAL cure for this debilitating disease!

Ladies, please care for yourselves. See a doctor, do plenty of research, and most of all- TRUST YOUR GUT!

#Endometriosis #EndometriosisAwareness #SpreadTheWord #EndoSucks #FEndo

“See a doctor, do plenty of research & most importantly trust your gut”  -Eugenia Odonkor, BSN, RN