Achea Redd: Tackling Mental Health with Real Girls F.A.R.T
Mental health advocate, Founder of Real Girls F.A.R.T, published author, and host of the podcast “Keepin It Real with Keys” there is very little Achea Redd can’t do. As a woman that struggles with her own mental health disorders she is taking on the challenging task of openly speaking about her mental health journey while inspiring others to be fearless in speaking of their own struggles.
Between juggling motherhood, being the wife of former NBA player Micheal Redd, and running her world like a champ Achea will be the first to tell you it’s not easy. In our conversation with her we talk about her mental health journey, her new book “Be Free. Be You.” and her endlessly entertaining podcast.
REAL GIRLS F.A.R.T? FIRST OF THE NAME! SECOND WHAT LEAD TO IT BEING FOUNDED?
The name as you can see is very creative. I didn’t try to be clever but you know there is always a negative stigma and connotation surrounding these types of things and they are just little mess ups in life. Women have these thoughts that we try to be perfect and meet certain standards. But in reality I was like we do mess up, we are not always perfect. And in particular with my own struggle and journey with mental health, I’m diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety and Depression Disorder, I wanted to create a platform where real girls can be transparent. Where we could share and talk about our feelings openly, even when they are not that pretty all the time.
WHY DO YOU THINK HAVING ANXIETY IS SO GENERALIZED AND AT TIMES NOT TAKEN SERIOUSLY?
Everyone has nervousness to some extent and that’s why i think anxiety is one of those things that people kind of just look over and it can go undiagnosed for so long. Because it doesn’t become a problem that is severe and debilitating until it becomes that big of a problem. It’s one of those things where you can fake it till you make it but then when life hits you and you’re like “oh my god, I cannot function.” That was one of the things that happened in my life. I was always prone to being nervous, to being anxious, but I didn’t know it was a thing. I just thought, “oh my belly aches, my headaches, those are just belly aches and headaches” and so when life knocked me down all of those things got a lot worse and I was like this is a real thing. So that’s why as a woman going through this journey it was so important for me to talk about it on my platform. As women so many times we take care of so many different people in our lives that a lot of times we forget to take care of ourselves which can make these disorders so much worse because we push it down to be dealt with later.
WHAT CAN THOSE OF US WHO DON’T EXPERIENCE ANXIETY OR ANY TYPE OF MENTAL HEALTH DISORDERS UNDERSTAND WHAT IT’S LIKE AND BE SUPPORTIVE?
I think when you don’t have it it’s difficult to even put yourself in that mindset or find the right thing to say. When friends or family have tried to help me they would say things like, “just calm down.” Even though they were trying to help me it actually made it a whole lot worse. Because what the difference is about being nervous about something and having an anxiety disorder is this preoccupation with thoughts about fear concerning the future. The anxiety disorder is when your brain is constantly conspiring telling you there is a tiger chasing after you when really it’s just life. So that’s the kind of realm people with generalized anxiety live in all the time. And for those who know someone or are close with someone who deals with this type of anxiety or mental health disorder you can be supportive by just allowing the person to feel and experience it, don’t try to fix it. Just be there, listen, don’t offer suggestions on things they could do to calm down, just let them be.
SINCE YOU’VE MENTIONED YOUR MENTAL HEALTH JOURNEY. WHAT ARE SOME THINGS YOU DO TO HELP MAINTAIN YOUR MENTAL HEALTH?
(laughing) Well that’s a loaded question...um A LOT! Don’t try to do everything at one time because that will be overwhelming in itself. You have to understand that mental health will be a marathon not a race. I initially started out with therapy on a weekly basis to help me identify and figure out what my triggers. From there I decided to go on medication and I think that combined with therapy is very helpful. I’ve had to tweak my medication a few times but you have to be patient with the process. I make the time to practice some sort of physical activity on a daily basis and that’s very helpful because the natural endorphins it releases, if you’re sensitive to caffeine cut back, take a nap when you need to take a nap because just like crying sometimes sleeps resets the brain.
YOUR BOOK “BE YOU. BE FREE.” IS SET TO COME OUT JUNE 18TH. WHAT CAN READERS EXPECT?
I think you’re going to laugh a lot because they’ve been there, you’re going to cry a little bit because not only can you feel my heart and where I was at that moment but also how relatable it is. You can plan to be inspired to change and be active.
WHAT MADE YOU WRITE THIS BOOK?
I started off just writing a blog because I wanted to use writing as my therapy. There were so many women reaching out to me telling me how inspiring it was and to keep it coming. So I started putting my efforts into writing about how as an African American young woman, being a preacher's daughter and then navigating through those two cultures with an undiagnosed mental illness. Then becoming the wife of a former NBA player which had its own set of expectations, and although not everyone can relate to being married to super star athlete, a lot of people can relate to the lessons I learned. That in the mist of wearing all of these different hats I was able to dig deep and find myself. That’s why it’s called, “Be Free. Be You” because the things I ran away from, my history, the trauma, all of that helped to get me to the place I am today. Where I’m able to stand on a platform and empower and inspire other women.
IN WRITING THE BOOK DID YOU LEARN ANYTHING SURPRISING ABOUT YOURSELF?
Yes, in the book and to other women I had to talk about how I had to divorce religion. I had to say it in those words because it was so deeply ingrained in me. Religion was so much apart of who I was being shaped into, who I became, how I was living, the decisions I was making, whether I drank, got tattoos, it just factored into every part of my life. But notice I said religion, I didn’t say God, I didn’t say spirituality. The most power, yet uncomfortable position I found myself in was like, “Shit I don’t know anything.”
TO ADD TO THE MANY THINGS YOU ALREADY DO, YOU ALSO HAVE A BOMB PODCAST!
Yes, “Keepin It Real with Keys.” There I talk about everything and I do that because I don’t want people to think that I’m only a mental health advocate. I love to laugh, talk about everyday life, and get together with other women and have conversations. I like not being the smartest person in the room. I don’t think anyone should ever be the smartest person in the room or your circle, if you are you probably need to change your group of friends. I live an introspective, inspired life where I go around looking for inspiration on purpose so the conversations that I’m able to have on the podcast are with really interesting people.
DESCRIBE YOUR SLAY.
I slay on a daily basis but legitimately keeping 100 percent honest all the time. I’m real, I wear my heart on my sleeve, I don’t blow smoke. You never have to wonder with me, what you see is what you get.
Pre-order Achea’s book, “Be Free. Be You.” by visiting her site or waiting until June 18th when the book launches on Amazon. You can catch all the interesting guests and conversations she has on her podcast, “Keepin It Real With Keys” and of course follower her and Real Girls F.A.R.T to help inspire you to keep your mental health a top priority.