Wednesday, 13 June 2012
By the time she was 14 years old, Laqwanda's life had become very painful. She was dealing with domestic violence at home, bullying, and depression. Worse still, she didn't have a support system to help her through those problems.
"I became involved in a relationship with an 18-year-old that caused devastating conflict between my mother and me," Laqwanda remembers. "As the relationship dissolved, so did my life."
At the age of 15, Laqwanda tried to take her own life. Though she physically recovered, she struggled through the next school year as people made insensitive comments about her suicide attempt. In spite of it all, she made it through high school and went on to earn a B.A. in sociology and an M.S. in social work.
Adulthood has been no easy ride either. At one point, Laqwanda lost the ability to care for her daughter or maintain employment. "Like others, my adult life has been a combination of both joy and sorrow," Laqwanda admits. "I have lost relationships, been hospitalized, and experienced the pain of being stigmatized because of my mental illness."
Today, Laqwanda volunteers with Families for Depression Awareness and CONTACT the Crisis Line. She has partial custody of her daughter and was just admitted to Wesley Biblical Seminary where she will be pursing a Master's of Divinity degree. Her long-term goal is to obtain a Ph.D. in social work and conduct research regarding the role spirituality plays in African-American perceptions of mental health treatment. She says, "I believe the obstacles and challenges of my life can serve as a light for others who may desire help but are afraid to obtain it."