“Kindness heals the world. Kindness heals people. It’s what brings us together. It’s what keeps us healthy. I was ra*** when I was 19 years old, repeatedly. I have been traumatized in a variety of ways by my career over the years from many different things, but I survived, and I’ve kept going. And when I looked at that Oscar, I saw pain. I don’t know that anyone understood it when I said it in the room, but I understood it. That kid out there or even that adult out there who’s been through so much, I want them to know that they can keep going, and they can survive, and they can win their Oscar. I would also beckon to anyone to try, when they feel ready, to ask for help. And I would beckon to others that if they see someone suffering, to approach them and say, ‘Hey, I see you. I see that you’re suffering, and I’m here. Tell me your story. I was a cutter for a long time, and the only way that I was able to stop cutting and self-harming myself was to realize that what I was doing was trying to show people that I was in pain instead of telling them and asking for help. When I realized that telling someone, ‘Hey, I am having an urge to hurt myself,’ that defused it. I then had someone next to me saying, ‘You don’t have to show me. Just tell me. What are you feeling right now?’ And then I could just tell my story. I say that with a lot of humility and strength; I’m very grateful that I don’t do it anymore, and I wish to not glamorize it. One thing that I would suggest to people who struggle with trauma response or self-harm issues or suicidal ideation is actually ice. If you put your hands in a bowl of ice-cold water, it shocks the nervous system, and it brings you back to reality. I once believed there was no way back from my trauma. I really did. I was in physical, mental, and emotional pain. And medicine works, but you need medicine with the therapy for it to really work, because there’s a part that you have to do yourself.” -ELLE
Category: Overcoming Adversity
“We limit ourselves the majority of the time. And where it really hit me hard is: We should never have to dim our light in order to make others feel… If anything, we should shine as bright as we can to liberate others to do the same. I live my life by that quote. For so long in my life, I felt like I was dimming my light because I felt uncomfortable. When I was at school, I was dyslexic and struggling like hell. And one of the only few black kids in my school, being put in the lowest classes and never given a chance to progress or even helped to progress. Teachers were telling me, ‘You’re never going to be nothing.’ I remember being behind the shed, in tears, like ‘I’m not going to be anything’. And believing it for a split second. The most demotivating thing to hear, especially when you witness them doing the complete opposite with your white counterparts. I don’t actually hold any grudge against those people, because they fueled me up. There’s a lot of feelings that I suppressed at the time that I didn’t even realize that I suppressed, emotions and feelings that I had when I was younger and it all came up. There was a lot of the N-word going around. Go back to your country. Even today, I remember how terrifying it was. I really, really couldn’t understand it. It was like, are they talking to me? I’m from here. What do they mean? I could never understand it. When you’re being attacked, there’s this fear, there’s fear, and there’s anger as well because you want to get them back for the pain that they’re causing you. I never spoke about it to my parents. I didn’t speak about it to my mum, I didn’t think she’d understand. And my dad, I was probably too scared to tell my dad, because I didn’t want him to think I was a wuss. You know, I didn’t want him to think I couldn’t defend myself. I just remember a lot of times just being alone, just in tears in my room.
I love music so much. I would say music saves me every single day. People say ‘Lewis Hamilton’s doing music? Oh, I’m sure that’s going to suck.’ It’s only when they hear stuff that I do, then they’re like, ‘Oh, you’re actually pretty good.'” -Vanity Fair
“Your biggest obstacles may turn into your purposes.” -Speech
Dr. Bessel Van Der Kolk
“Trauma is usually about a victim trying to make amends for the perpetrator. The most important thing is to give it to yourself. As vulnerable, As scared, As angry, As frozen as you were and forgive yourself for all the ways you have tried to survive. So just take care of that. Just learn to forgive yourself from all the things you have done in order to survive. That’s a big job.” -Cracked Up Documentary
“Wellness, to me, doesn’t mean perfection or living by a standard that is unrealistic. Wellness has a lot to do with the word ‘wholeness.’ It’s sort of staying connected to self, God, and other. I’m a big fan of Internal Family Systems by Richard Schwartz. That model of psychotherapy very much helps me to connect with different parts of myself, some that are deemed by society as negative, challenging, dark parts, like addressing depression or anxiety. I had a panic attack yesterday. I just went, boom, right into my tool kit. Okay, what do I do here? I quickly ran a bath epsom salts, magnesium, lavender. Call in all ops! [laughs]
Personally, because I feel like sharing might be helpful in some way, I have a little life pie that I reference visually. Pretty much every journal I have, if you open the front page, it’s the pie. I just take a glance at them and immediately my eye will be pulled toward that which I have been neglecting. My life pie includes, I’m just going to draw it while I’m talking. Family and friends, body: somatic experiencing, trauma recovery. Spirit: It’s really silence. With three children under 11, I’ve been known to go into my closet on the ground in the dark. If I’m going to a television studio anywhere in the world, my first question is usually, ‘Is there a room with a door that I can close? Where I can go for a few minutes just to catch my breath, recharge my batteries.’
Then there’s being expressed. So much of my depression comes from my not expressing sadness, grief, and anger. Usually, a grief or a loneliness, or some false thought that got into my mind really, really young and I just kept believing it, even though it was never true. Feeling that I’ve processed enough is important, and that can include venting with friends, feeling expressed artistically, designing something. Marriage is a big one. It’s tough with three kids, but my husband, Souleye, and I try to sneak away as much as possible.
Being on top of my business and finances. I feel like the patriarchy just pats women on the head especially artists. I have been shamed for looking after my money and shamed for not looking after my money. You can’t win! So I just keep showing up. Brain rest: binge watching tv. Floating, wandering time. Mind wondering, As an artist and someone who loves to philosophize, I can’t get those messages, for lack of a better term, if everything is jampacked, including my mind and environment. SO just time to sit. Easier said than done last year with three kids schooling at home my eyes are crossed.” -ALLURE
“Finding the funny is my coping skill. Funny is my panacea. If I’m not laughing, then I’m screaming. Yesterday was one of those devastatingly dark days where I couldn’t get out of bed. I live in a nightmare each and every day. The misconception is that you can have ‘a little bit’ of OCD. You can’t. The thoughts are so strong that they stop your life. Not many people know that I suffer from the same issues as my dad. I just locked myself in and didn’t leave the house for a year. Before COVID, there wasn’t a waking moment of my life when the thought that ‘we could die’ wouldn’t come into my psyche. The solace that I was getting was from everybody else telling me it was okay. But the whole world was not okay. It was hell. We all need help. I don’t think anyone can function without it” -People
“High school was where I first noticed something was off. I remember feeling sad all the time, that I didn’t belong or fit in. I had debilitating anxiety. I spoke to the in-house therapist a few times, but I didn’t really feel comfortable spilling my guts to someone who had lunch with my teachers seven days a week. I saw another counselor in college. It took him two minutes to prescribe me Paxil. I never took it and never saw him again. I was embarrassed. I didn’t feel justified in seeing a therapist or taking pills. For one thing, I didn’t know any other Asian people who saw therapists.
I showed up to a career fair and signed up to teach English in Japan. I’d come to think that my problems were in America, and I wanted to live the life of an expat. Cut to the track behind the high school in Izumi -Tottori and me running around and around and loving it. I had boundless energy. I felt invincible. At night, I read dense Russian classics. I finished War and Peace in a couple of days.
Before long I was fixating on suicide. I’d make it look like an accident or just put myself in enough cars with s***** drivers. The last thing I wanted was to burden my parents with the dishonor of having a son who killed himself. When I returned to New York from Tokyo, I started a dead-end job at a financial services company. I would ride my bike all over Manhattan, weaving in and out of traffic and blowing through stoplights. There was a New Year’s Eve party that began with valium, speed, pot, washed down with twenty drinks and ended with my falling through a giant glass table. The ER doctors said I narrowly missed an artery.”
At 22 age 22, he finally decided to become a cook.
“But six months into my tenure at Cafe Boulud, my tenacity began to fall short. I’d always known I could hack anything as long as I was ready to work and work. If I could embrace the numbing repetition of the kitchen, I could keep everything else in my life at bay. But doubt leaked into my psyche. One thought began to surface repeatedly. I still wanted to die.”
My sole breakthrough was a private one. If nothing mattered, what did I have to lose? Thoreau said, ‘I said no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of man to elevate his life by conscious endeavor.’ I took that to heart as I contemplated suicide. Work toward something. Open a restaurant. If it doesn’t pan out there always the other path. To fight mental illness you need help. Medicine, yes, but people are key. You can’t do it alone. I’m lucky to have Dr. Eliot. The mere routine of talking to him has kept me alive. He brings out my most thoughtful and considerate self. When we’re talking, I’m the version of me that’s happy to wake up and face whatever challenge lies ahead.” -People
“I was a deep thinker and was spiritual and creative when I was very little. I would posture ideas to myself and those around me. Who am I? Who are we as humankind? Then I began channeling this into music, characters in school plays, poetry. Needless to say, at some point, lots of people found me peculiar. Weird was a word I heard a lot. Thus began my journey with bullying. Once I was thrown in a trash can by a group of boys shouting, ‘That’s where you belong!’ I had depression, anorexia, bulimia, anxiety, and masochistic tendencies that included scratching or cutting my arms with knives when I was in emotional distress. I still struggle with some of these things. My trauma history is extensive. I was repeatedly r**ed when I was nineteen. I grew up around alcoholism. Finally, I have at least figured out the through line of all the things I’ve been through. In every instance, there was an absence of kindness. It’s important to pause and think about what you’re doing, in case you might hurt someone. And by someone, that includes yourself. Don’t just respond with kindness, fill the empty with it.” -People
“I know how bullying feels. I understood how the world defined me at that point in 1973, as a dark-skinned Black woman. That’s a brutal one-two punch, that not only are the bullies running after you, calling you ‘black ugly n*****’, but the world sees you like that. How you react is based on survival. The key is to survive. I did what was at my hand to do at 8 years old. I fought. And that fighting served me because I’m still on my feet. I can look back at that little girl and feel great compassion for her but also I can look back at those bullies, and I can forgive. What I understand now at 56 is the gift of my powers but also the limitation of it. The only person I can save is me. Listen, when you’ve taken your last breath, it’s about your journey. You and you alone. All of those things happened to me, but I own it. And it’s a part of who I am.” -People
“Having a speech impediment forced me to think creatively about the ways I was going to communicate onstage. It wasn’t enough to just rely on my orality. I had to siphon other instruments. So if I wasn’t pronouncing a word ‘correctly’ because of my speech impediment, people might be able to look at my hands and say, ‘Oh, she’s saying running because she’s making a motion with her index and middle fingers.” -ALLURE