I’ve been looking at my blog and it is a disaster to say the least. Ever since the summer came and went, I have been skipping my weekly blog posts. Having less and less time to spend on long form pieces. Overwhelmed by social media and speaking engagements and trying to juggle the gym and my mom’s hip replacement surgery. Etc. Etc. Etc. I’ve had some really good ideas, but they just never panned out to me actually writing them.
I’ve been writing, but not in the ways that I want to…
I had this amazing idea to get an intern. Maybe they could help me whip it (as well as other things) back into shape. The deadline has past, and no one has responded to my little ad. And, most likely because I can’t pay them at the moment. Which I completely get because who wants to work for free?
But, that’s not why I dropped in, to tell you all about my failed intern search but to talk about some of the issues plaguing me for the entire month of January.
On January 1st, New Years Day, I felt so optimistic about life. The air even seemed different than that of 2018, otherwise cold but still hopeful. All these things were going to happen. Since it is my downtime from modeling and from speaking gigs, I’d have time to get to know me. Do a bit of fat girl yoga. Re-strategize my year and my brand and my life. I was even going to start dating again. Shit was about to be lit!
January was not lit in the least bit. It was bad, so very bad. So low and un-lit and cold and harsh.
It began with some anxiety sprinkled with seasonal depression after coming back from NYC. I was excited to get started on plotting out my business and making it legit, instead of being that artist who hadn’t known how much she made last year or hadn’t had business models in place. Because I am that person. I can’t be 100% creator and 100% business person at the same time. That’s like two whole ass people, when I am only one whole ass but a kinda sorta partial ass person.
I started to freak out. How was I going to do all the shit in addition to creating content? How was I going to plan shoots and send out emails and eat regularly and still have a social life? How, Sway? The answers never came. In fact, more things started to happen.
I was rejected from two major campaigns. One in LA and the other in New York. Man, how amazing would it have been to have some kind of income and also landing a gig, maybe two!
Then I got scared because if those two retailers said no, then how many other no’s would I get? Was my time as a model done? Had I dried up like leftovers in a container that you forgot in the backseat of your car in the summer time? These gigs equate payment. Payments so that I can pay my bills and pay more bills and then maybe get ice cream later on. If I don’t work, then I don’t eat. Then I can’t create.
I might look like I have it all together, but clearly, I do not.
I fell into this whirlwind of doubt. Imposter Syndrome. Other lowliness.
I will never have a year as awesome as last year.
No one wants to work with me because I am not the right kind of fat. Because I am Muslim and I refuse to show my tits.
I am done. My ride is over.
I am not cut out for this. Why had I started this? Delete the whole fuckin’ Instagram app!
I wanted to hide. I wasn’t worthy of being seen. I started writing cryptic posts. I felt like no one cared. Of course, that isn’t true, but it was for me—is for me still.
You’d think that once you start to blow up and get the likes and get the shares and the comments that you’d never be lonely, but that’s not true sometimes. I am the loneliest I’ve felt in a long time.
I’ve had to sit with myself in these last few weeks. In my body dysmorphia. In my insecurities. In my pain. In my awkwardness. In my failures and in those rejections. I’ve had to cry it out. I feel like I’ve cried more times in this month than I have in the entire previous year. I’ve cried because my feelings were hurt or because someone said something so nice to me or just because I watched something sad on my period and just balled for no fuckin reason.
It’s so hard to see the light when you are in too deep. It is hard to have faith when you don’t even believe in yourself. It’s so hard to make lemonade out of lemons. Kinda sorta.
I’m not trying to get all religious on you, but I do believe that signs are sent to us in the form of people or things to give us a little push to keep going.
Mine came at my friend’s going away party. It had been a rough day. People were being shady, and I had to ask my friend after dinner to talk to me because I was out of it and struggling to feel normal. Feel like the fierce Leah V that we have all grown to love. He talked with me in the car for a good hour. Reading me to filth but with love. He made me feel a bit better. I went to the party afterwards and this woman grabbed my arm, gently, looked me deep in my eyes and told me that she could see that I had a good spirit and there was a uniqueness there that she hadn’t seen in a long time. She said it more eloquently, but I damn near started bursting out crying. It has been a long time that someone complimented me on something deeper than looks and makeup and outfits. Her compliment hit me inside. In my core right where my black heart is. It began to beat a little. It softened.
I’m not sure she knew how much of an impact she made on me that night.
Although, I am not fully out of my funk it is better than it was initially. I can finally see some of the light that people be talking about.
And, I know that I am not the only one going through some shit right now and that shit could definitely be so much worse and that we should be counting our blessings and being grateful, but it’s still a time where lack of Vitamin D and sun and increase of just being in the house because it’s cold af is weighing on all of us.
Here’s a few things I’ve done to lessen my mental illness episodes:
1. The “one thing a day rule”. I know many of us—when depression hits—want to stay in bed and wallow and think about that shit incessantly, but you cant only just do that. You gotta do one thing, whether that is showering, sending an email, reading a book, brushing your teeth. Focus on one thing to accomplish.
2. Sit in your own mess. A lot of times we don’t like the discomfort of sitting in our own mental shit that we try to fill those voids with things that aren’t healthy for us. Could be unprotected sex, drugs, abuse of others, whatever. Sit in that shit! It’s okay to experience all the emotions, even the not so cool ones.
3. Reach out. I know a lot of folks are private and don’t want their business out in the street but hey, you gotta let it out. The ramifications to keeping things bottled up is worse when it comes out later and you have no control of it.
4. Be gentle with yourself. You are allowed to cry. (I am talking to myself because I hate crying. It makes me feel like a punk). You are not no damn punk for crying. You are a human being with feelings. A good cry ain’t never hurt nobody.
5. Count the good things that have happened. Life is not all bad. Life has good moments, too. Are you being cognizant of those good moments or are you harping on the bad?
6. Physical things. Yoga. Dancing. Any crazy movements. Arts and crafts. Lifting that ice cream cone to and from your mouth. Anything to get those endorphins up.
So, that’s all I wanted to say. My little update. I don’t have the answers to never having manic episodes or mental health crises. I don’t know how to stop my own. I’m just sharing with you what’s been going on with me, my absence, my life.
I have no clue what I am doing or where I am going. I am trying to learn how to enjoy the process more than the outcome. To be vulnerable even though it scares the shit out of me. To take risks and know that everything is going to work out in the end, exactly how its supposed to.
And, that neither I or you control that.
What’s the best advice you would give someone whose going “through it”? Let’s chat.