Mental Health Barriers & Breakthrough’s | From the Chair
Dominique connected with me through my Let’s Work Together page with a collaboration idea I couldn’t pass up. From The Chair completely encompasses House of Psych’s Mental Health Barriers & Breakthrough’s brand. As a mental health professional, she’s sharing her story with hopes of encouraging others not to feel ashamed for needing help. For professionals, Dominique confirms that just because we work in the field doesn’t mean we have all the answers, we’re still human and need support too.
Dominique Christina is an independent and strong female from Brooklyn, New York. She is currently working on her Master’s of Social Work with hopes of working with Children in Hospice Care. Dominique works full-time with adolescents who have a history of trauma and substance abuse as an intensive in-home counselor. She also volunteers her time to help families and children who encounter grief and loss. Lastly, and most importantly, she is a full-time mother and affirms that her six-year-old is the force behind her motivation to change the world.
Through her own life-changing experiences that ranged from distrust, substance abuse, depression, and the nightmare of losing her firstborn son, Dominique knows firsthand that life can be unfair. However, the challenges she once thought would break her, only made her stronger. Dominique is passionate about writing and “being the voice of change.” Her dedication to helping others has led to a special project – BrayAngel Organization LLC. Which supports parents who have experienced the loss of a child and/or have children facing a terminal illness.
In addition to all of that, Dominique is also a published author. Jordyn’s Open Diary was written to empower and help individuals who struggle in silence. Through this book, Dominique hopes to inspire and encourage individuals to share their testimonies by using her own experiences.
The Barriers: From the Client
October 12, 2009, quite possibly the worst day of my life. Hearing a doctor say the words, “your son is brain dead” and “there’s nothing we can do.” Then thinking to myself, I’m 21 this can’t happen, I have so many plans for him. All while being questioned by CPS: “Where were you? Who did you leave him with? Did you hurt him?” My child’s life became nothing more than a child abuse case.
It didn’t end there. Family members began to point fingers. Rumors and lies traveled through the community. People I had never met were all of a sudden in my life. As I was reminded by hospital staff that, “ma’am, you have to decide because if you don’t, he’ll start to look worse” I only felt denial and confusion; I was breathing, but I didn’t feel alive. At approximately 8:37 pm I took my son off of life support.
I just wanted the pain to go away, so I abused substances to cope. Returning to my senior year of college wasn’t an option. I ran from state to state avoiding family because they just didn’t understand. Every day I hoped that I wouldn’t wake-up. I was alive, but not living; I only existed. I suppressed emotions that surfaced after the death of my son. I failed to seek help appropriately and self-medicated to cope. I kept myself busy to pass the time, or isolated to avoid challenges. I pushed people away; I was accused of being dramatic, fake, or an attention seeker. But I was fighting my demons and dealing with my mental health. Not long ago, I found myself in an abusive situation which prompted the resurfacing of previous trauma from losing my son. After seven years, I experienced a mental and emotional breakdown that also lead to a period of suicidal ideation.
The Breakthrough’s: From the Chair
You can’t outrun grief. It leaves when it’s done. Listen to it and respect it. That’s the only way you can survive it
I avoided and suppressed the pain to the point that I became physically ill. I was fighting an internal battle, but until it physically took over my body, I never considered getting help. One day sane and sober, I thought to myself this isn’t right. It was a challenge, but I sought professional help. I returned to church, went back to school, and even graduated on time. Fast forward two years, and I welcomed my second child into the world. People still wonder, is she still hurting? Yes! Is she still grieving? Maybe! Is she crying? Sometimes! But, I am dealing with it. Grief doesn’t have an expiration date, and depression doesn’t have a look. We all grieve and process differently, and that is ok.
Every day gets a little easier. With support from my parents and my father who constantly reminded me that it’s ok not to be ok, I made it through some incredibly hard days. My father tracked my moods and eventually learned how to predict the onset of a bad day. He also attended classes that helped him support me as I worked through my trauma. I know that one day my heart will be whole again. I may be bruised, but I’m not broken!As a grieving mother, spare me your judgment when you hear me say I have two children instead of one just because that's all your eyes see. @dchristinaj Click To Tweet
The stigma behind those who live with mental health disorders is a serious and ongoing problem in society. We place labels on individuals, making them afraid to seek help. I was one of those people. As a mental health professional, it was challenging to get personal help. I worried that digging into my traumas would affect my work. Over time, I realized that not getting the help I needed had a larger negative effect. Listening to a young mother discuss traumatic abuse when I was fighting my issues was not healthy. I thought I was fine because I was functioning, but in reality, I was getting worse. To break the stigma, we have to educate one another on the importance of using mental health services. Breaking the stigma means being vocal, breaking barriers in communities, and eliminating judgment.
You can find Dominique and continue to follow her story by connecting with her on at:
Blog Coming Soon: Mask Off: The Beast Within This Beauty