Achea Redd was raised a proud preacher’s daughter with a focus on her outward appearance. From a young age, she was confronted by the disparity between how her father would present himself to his congregants and the way he behaved behind closed doors. It taught her to live life as if she was something that she wasn’t. She believed that things would be OK, just as long as she looked the part. But this wasn’t true.
In early 2016, she was diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder. Her initial attempts to hide it from the world only created a shame spiral that made things worse and, eventually, she suffered from a full mental breakdown. Once she acknowledged the situation with her loved ones and sought out treatment from mental health professionals, she finally started to heal.
As part of her journey to wellness, she launched a blog, allowing her to share her feelings and experiences with those who needed to hear them. The response was overwhelmingly positive and, so, she followed the blog by creating Real Girls F.A.R.T., an organization that empowers women to become their best, most authentic selves.
We were lucky enough to talk to her in episode #66 of the Gravity podcast, where she bares all about the struggles in her upbringing and how she’s been able to find strength for herself and others in times that are uncertain in more ways than one.
Achea is still healing, but she’s found assisting others to be a wonderful stepping stone on the road to her own recovery. We can all learn something from her story.
What Brett asks:
- [04:40] Let’s start at the beginning: tell me about your childhood.
- [08:20] What is the felt experience of being a child whose father has a different public and private persona?
- [20:50] Looking back on your childhood, how do you feel about your father?
- [24:50] What are your thoughts about the notion that families should adhere to a set of social norms?
- [30:00] How did you find growing into a teenager and a young adult?
- [36:30] Tell me about your struggles with the shame spiral that you experienced?
- [40:35] Do you think healing should happen parallel to advocating for others to heal?
- [44:10] Do you look back on your life and see how it served you on your journey to where you are, now?
- [49:30] How do you live with uncertainty and a lack of conclusion?
- [52:00] Speaking as a black woman, how has your mental health been affected by the events of the past year?
- [56:20] Tell us about the work you’re doing and how we can support you.
Lessons for intentional living:
- I’ve covered this on the show before, but “fake it till you make it” is terrible advice! You’re forcing yourself to live a lie, and you run the risk of getting so good at “faking it” that you don’t feel as if you’ve ever “made it”, even when you have. It’s a breeding ground for imposter-syndrome and it’s a mental habit that can be hard to break.
- So often, we approach healing with the attitude that we must heal ourselves fully before we can begin advocating to heal others. I believe that the act of advocating for healing can, in itself, be an act of healing. The two things can run parallel and complement one another.
- It may seem simple, but our bodies are the culmination of what’s put into them over the course of our lives. If we experience trauma, no matter how mild, that’s going to become a part of us and we need to be aware of that and how it shapes who we are so that it doesn’t manifest as something negative.
- Recovery of any sort is rarely linear. It’s easy to panic when we see ourselves getting worse, but just because you’ve taken a step backward, it doesn’t mean you haven’t also taken two steps forward.