By Nicky Rene
Special to the AFRO

On May 5, 2011, the day of celebration for my son’s dedication, I was still in recovery from having my first major surgery, and my mental health was at its worst. Weighing in at 99lbs, I hated to look at myself. I would put on two pairs of pants to make myself look bigger. My face was so broken out, you could connect the dots. My hair was paper thin and falling out. When I looked in the mirror I saw nothing that was “beautiful.” The staples in my stomach left a scar that was dark and extremely sensitive. I could literally count my ribs and sit a cup in the dip of my neck. Where would I find beauty? Who would think I was beautiful?

I was ashamed and embarrassed to look this way. Crohn’s disease has always shifted my weight up and down, but this was the worst I had ever been. Nothing I ate stayed down, I mean absolutely nothing. My self-esteem was destroyed and I didn’t know how to get it back. All I knew was that I was a mother who was suffering, and still trying to see the light at the end of this stormy season of my life.

Nicky Rene (Courtesy Photo)

I prayed, I cried and prayed and cried until I couldn’t get the tears to fall anymore. I had become so depressed that my doctors wanted to put me on medication for depression, but I refused. My friends and family didn’t fully understand, and I was too broken to even try to explain it. 

My journey has been full of highs and lows. I am extremely grateful to be who I am today. Now, that doesn’t mean I still don’t have days of weakness, but I know how to handle it better than I did back then. I know who to call, and all I have to say is “I need you to pray with me.” I know who to go sit with or hangout with that will uplift my spirit, and listen without judgment. I know how to just be still (that is not easy for me) and let my feelings flow. I know how to express how I feel and not reject the helping hand of others. I know how to rest and not feel bad that I can’t attend an event. 

I learned how to put myself first and not feel bad about it. I learned how to build and grow my faith in God. None of these things came easy, but every one of them has, and is important when you are fighting against yourself. Mental health is just as real and important as your physical health. You don’t have to have a debilitating disease. Life itself can break you down, but I want anyone reading this to know you can overcome it. You don’t have to fight it alone. You don’t have to rely on just your voice to give you hope. Take it one step at a time. Reward yourself for the small things. You are amazing, beautiful, and worth every breath you take!