Growing up, I saw the image of women being not only backbones, but essentially feeling an obligation to be the proverbial martyr for their families. This usually came at the expense of their wellness.
Not only did I witness this daily within the confines of my household, I understood that the women in my family were not unique in this way.
Throughout my community I saw the same scenario playing out. Even at a young age, I understood the dysfunction of this epidemic, but was desensitized to the gravity of it. Still, without change, I was destined to repeat it.
At the age of 13 I was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease. Along with this chronic autoimmune disorder, I have also battled degrees of depression and anxiety. By varying lengths of thread, I continued to hang on. Mostly suffering in silence, I had grown accustomed to being functionally depressed.
Not only was this normal for me, I wore it like a badge of honor. I muddled through, caring for my 5 children, but running on fumes. I existed this way for years.
Then, 2013 came. The accumulation of years of devastating depression and poor self-care finally exceeded my ability to ignore and bandage it.
Precipitated by nothing more than sheer exhaustion, I broke.
This break resulted in me voluntarily admitting myself into a mental health facility. While this brief stay afforded me a pause and an opportunity to receive professional services to cope with my depression, it also afforded me unprecedented clarity. I knew that I was going to have to make an entire lifestyle change.
Following my discharge, I set out on a journey to put my wellness first. Over the next year and a half I would set out on a journey that would include running, hiking, yoga, meditation, intense journaling and extreme dietary modifications. I soared for a while, and then I lost motivation as well as momentum. I didn’t know it at the time, but community is imperative to lasting change. Prior to this time, that was something that I sorely lacked.
During this time, I was introduced to GirlTrek. Here was an organization that acknowledged all the major health concerns that affected women like me. It even gave voice to the often stigmatized one that I wrestled with most, depression. I knew that I absolutely had to join this movement. My trajectory was forever changed.
Since joining GirlTrek, I have been much more consistent in making my self-care a priority. I don’t even have adequate words to articulate the ways this sisterhood has not only contributed to saving my life, but also put me on a path to thrive.
I have been inspired to not only recommit to my wellness daily, but to also challenge myself by setting lofty goals. With the support of my GirlTrek family, I will be training to participate in my first triathlon this year.
I have also been entrusted with the task of bringing the power of the organization to my hometown in the capacity of City Captain. Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought I would be in a position to use my story to help inspire others while taking care of myself.
I am fortunate to still have my mother and grandmother with me. I now take every opportunity I get to encourage them to practice self-care, unapologetically. As I look towards the future, I am cognizant of modeling self-care as a lifestyle as an example to my daughters. It is my hope that they follow suit and perpetuate GirlTrek’s mission for the sake of their own daughters.
– Yolanda M. Crocker, GirlTrek Gary, IN
BlackDoctor.org is excited for this content partnership with GirlTrek to feature #BlackGirlHealing, an initiative created to document the narratives, struggles and successes of Black women on the journey to living their healthiest, most fulfilled lives through the habit of daily walking. This initiative will further the mission of decreasing health disparities and stigma among women and girls, and further the conversation that self care is a revolutionary act of love.
Watch the video below for more inspiration!