“When You Can’t Find One, Create One”
Joy Woods is a woman after my own heart. A woman who knows the value of the most important type of self-care, mental health. We all know life sucks at times, and this adulting thing can be crazy. While family and friends are a great source of support and love, the ability to find peace, calm and love within yourself is just as important. Joy created the Without A Space blog just for that, a space where she could share her thoughts, ideas and experiences. Here, Joy shares details with us about finding her niche and the life-changing lessons she has learned.
We asked to share her story.
1. Tell us your story. Where did the idea for Without A Space come from? And what made you take that leap of faith to share your journey with the world?
I have had blogs before but never kept them up, the idea for Without A Space came my first semester of graduate school .The idea originally was planned to be a place for other graduate students to come and write; however, as months went on I realized that I had a story to tell that was pretty unique and I should just tell it. It wasn’t a leap of faith as much as it was the time. I just forced myself to make time for it.
2. Mental hardships are experienced by so many but never really discussed in communities of color, what is your Without A Space message to your sisters and brothers?
That it is okay not to be okay! I think often times we as black people (or other people of color) get caught up in the illusion of being “fine,” not realizing by maintaining that illusion we are prolonging our process of healing. I guess my main message is: just be yourself, there is no need to pretend! Also, never be afraid to ask for help, no one gets to the top alone.
3. We have tremendous compassion for the pain you have endured and the subsequent strength you have gained as a result, what has been the most challenging aspect of learning how to “handle” your feelings and emotions?
The hardest part of learning to handle my emotions was not allowing them to swallow me up, so to speak. I feel things incredibly deep, and sometimes, I have allowed myself to stew in negative emotions and that has taken its toll on me personally; as well as some relationships/friendships. I have not mastered it yet; however, I am actively working on working through my emotions/feelings with a therapist. (P.S., I suggest everyone get a therapist talkspace.com is always an option as well)
4. For those following your journey to being the best you and dealing with depression and anxiety, what is your advice to them on their journey?
There is no “one size fits all” to this journey; however, the first step in anyone’s journey to being a better self is acknowledging that one is not perfect. Also, allow yourself grace and space to make mistakes. If you can give yourself grace, then you will not be too hard on yourself when a mistake or a misstep is made. Your journey is just that YOUR JOURNEY, so you must figure out what works best for you.
5. What insight or suggestions would you give to friends, family, spouses and partners as they support and love someone experiencing mental hardships?
My only suggestion for loved ones who are supporting someone experiencing mental hardships is that they do not try to discredit their feelings. I have found that the comment: “you don’t look depressed,” is used quite bit but it is very invalidating. When their feelings become invalidated it can cause an internalization of those feelings and cause them to induce self-blame.
6. What’s next for you and the Without A Space Blog? How would you like to see your blog and message evolve in the next five years?
Well there are some really cool things I would like to tie in with my blog. I actually plan on launching a podcast called MorningJoy where we will discuss the blog and other topics. I feel this will be another good outlet for people to get help on their journey. I have begun allowing subscriptions to the blog and I hope that number steadily increases. In the next five years, I would love to see my website considered to be a top place/resource for women of color to find mental health resources, and maybe even share their stories as a guest contributor.
7. Best thing about your personal journey thus far?
I think one of the coolest part of my journey so far is seeing the amount of people who have joined me along the way. Of course, you hope your blog/art/etc reaches thousands of people, but I write as a way to heal so to see other people able to heal through my process is amazing. I try to stay visibly vulnerable, and its incredible to see how people actually truly respect that.
THE OSOW FAST THREE!
1. What is your favorite song at the moment?
2. If you could have lunch with any person, who would it be and why?
Tiffany Haddish, she just seems so much fun and we would have a good time!
3.What’s your overarching vision for individuals experiencing depressive disorder and general anxiety disorder?
Don’t let it stop your shine. It’s a part of you its not ALL OF YOU.