by Shayna Rudd, Motivational Speaker, Author and 2008 Miss District of Columbia
On January 27, 2008 I opened my eyes and realized that despite the sun shining into my room, I was in darkness. I felt heavy, suicidal and embarrassed that I had not lived up to the perfect standard that had driven my life since growing up in West Philadelphia. It was the apex of my flirtation with depression and suicide; a dance that I learned to take the lead on just this year.
I competed in the Miss America pageant in January of 2008. I had faith that I would win and it would fix my emotionally, bruised life. I can recall not allowing anyone to speak of the idea of me not winning in my presence. I successfully trained everyone around me to believe that this was the plan of God for my life and we were not to speak against it.
I was driven by my vision of God making me ‘famous’ and with this belief I could finally prove to myself and others that I was special. However, I felt far from beautiful waking up on January 27, 2008. I felt like dying would be easier than dealing with the feelings of failure associated with my pageant loss.
Since that day, I battled clinical depression alone and it controlled every decision I made. Decisions like which opportunities to accept, whether I had the strength to get up from my self-inflicted isolation, and who I chose to be in relationships with.
Depression became my private life, while I led others to freedom publicly through my motivational speaking and coaching.
My obsession with becoming Miss America became a toxic situation that added fuel to my depression. Dealing with feelings of disappointment and grief were compounded by hiding, superficiality and isolation. The combination of emotions had become my drug and in that moment I knew I had been flirting with depression too long and I needed assistance.
While my depressed obsession led me to believe that God’s calling for me was to be Miss America, I was missing his true calling for my life, to be a vessel to help emotionally liberate youth and women.
Today I realize that God had a greater plan for me, one that involved building an inner beauty.
If You are Suffering from Depression…
Just like me, many young girls and women are hiding behind the dark veil of depression. My journey has shown me that the only way to heal is to acknowledge your condition and seek help.
I need you to know that you are not crazy. You need love and care and you have to be autonomous about giving to yourself as well as surrounding yourself with people who will reflect the beauty of who you are. Six years, six months, or six days is too long to struggle alone. I encourage you to seek help, find circles of support and trust and share your journey with others.
I am grateful that this year I had the courage to turn on the lights in my life and expose my truth. I stand with those in this fight for holistic freedom and I encourage you to know that there is nothing impossible when you decide that you are ready to be free
Miss Rudd is the founder of LadyDiva Productions, LLC, an education, Pageant coaching and Entertainment Company that promotes the power in every human’s story of evolution. Through this company Shayna tours as a speaker, coach and performer.
Her first book, “ Lady Lessons: The LadyDiva Guide to Embracing the Truth About You”, was released in 2010 and has been read by thousands of girls across the country! Additionally, Shayna held the title of Miss Black USA 2009 and toured the United States and even to Accra, Ghana to speak on behalf of hurting women everywhere.
Currently Shayna serves diligently as the Founder and Artistic Director of The Legends School for Revolutionary Arts where she educates student to use all forms of art including but not limited to Classical Ballet, Modern Jazz and Theater to accomplish social justice. Her school is located in East Lansdowne, Pennsylvania.
You can learn more about her at www.shaynarudd.com.