Home #Hwoodtimes Achea Redd Makes Mental Health Awareness her Mission—because for Achea, it’s Personal.

Achea Redd Makes Mental Health Awareness her Mission—because for Achea, it’s Personal.

By Jules Lavallee

Los Angeles, California (The Hollywood Times) 5/11/2021 –  Achea Redd, wife of Olympian and NBA legend Michael Redd, author and mental health advocate, acknowledged that diet culture seeps in almost everywhere and that for eating disorder patients who are struggling, it can be especially difficult. “I think diet culture is so pervasive it literally jumps out at you in anything. When you are in recovery it’s one of the hardest things to do and seeing things like ‘guilt-free’ on foods and advertisements can be very triggering,” Redd, who was diagnosed with atypical anorexia as a teen. “Reason being is that the messaging is in direct conflict with what you are learning about in recovery. There are no good or bad foods. Guilt should be reserved for actions that are illegal and immoral—not having a cookie.”  Achea speaks about mental health and her books, Be Free. Be You and Authentic You: A Girl’s Guide to Growing Up Fearless and True.

You are a mental health awareness advocate. Share your experience with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). 

GAD is something I’ve had for a very long time, but because of the stigma in black communities anxiety isn’t a real thing. You just toughen up and get through it. There’s no time for weakness. So I suffered in silence for a while before getting help.

How do you manage triggers? 

Recovery isn’t linear for any of us so more often than not avoidance isn’t possible. However, I do try to avoid what I can and the rest of the stuff I just have learned to pause and recognize my reaction. Then I ask where that’s coming from and is it valid for the moment or is it something from my past. Usually, that’s enough for me to steady myself.

What are your thoughts on ‘guilt-free” foods and advertisements?

Hmmm, this is a tough one. Of course, I don’t love those types of labels because it contributes to the lie that food has a moral value of being good or bad. However, I realize that diet culture is very pervasive and not everyone has the education on diet culture, yet so I can’t expect them to know the things I know. Diet culture is interwoven into everything we do as a society so it’s a tough thing to unlearn.

Tell us about your book, Be Free. Be You and  Authentic You: A Girl’s Guide to Growing Up Fearless and True.  

They are both very different books. Be Free. Be You. was my first one so it is very special to me. I discuss my life as a preacher’s daughter in a world filled with limits, boundaries, and rules. All of those things ultimately led to me living to please everyone but myself. I would describe it as a self-help memoir and it introduced me to the world of mental health advocacy.

Authentic You was penned especially for girls between the ages of 12-17. A lot of mental health stuff comes to the surface between those ages. Some kids grow out of it, but there are quite a few who don’t. For those kids, early intervention is key. Sometimes just giving kids the language to call things out makes a world of difference. This book healed the “little” Achea that was needing to be understood and heard.

You launched a blog of self-expression and healing. What can we find on your blog?

You will find a woman on a path of discovering herself. Afraid of what she will find, she decides to do it anyway. I’m a wife of almost 15 years, and a mom of two. My oldest is about to go to high school so I’ve been around to experience some stuff and I discuss it all. My blog is on my website at achearedd.com

How can girls find their own inner strength? 

The most important relationship a young woman will ever have is the one with herself. If that relationship isn’t healthy it will be unhealthy with every other relationship in her life. So you gain strength by becoming your own best friend. Being willing to sit with yourself all alone to figure “it” out—whatever it is.

Tell us about Overcoming fear and confronting pain in order to live your best life?

In Be Free. Be You. I have a chapter all about struggling forward. It seems like an oxymoron, but it’s absolutely necessary if we are to overcome fear and confront pain. The first word in my acronym of Real Girls F.A.R.T. is FEARLESS. A lot of people assume I mean I live without fear, but that’s not the case. To me, fearless means I still have fear I JUST FEAR less. It’s a struggle to move forward when you know that on your journey you have to come face to face with the whats and whos that have caused you pain. It’s a step that can not be skipped if you wanna live your best life because it’s a part of growth and there’s always a lesson to be learned.

Are there healthy social media habits? 

Yes, the power of the unfollow or mute buttons are real and are at your unlimited disposal lol! Don’t ever continue to follow people that trigger you or make you doubt yourself. One of the great things about social media is you do get to make that choice of who’s content you wanna see. So take advantage of that and follow people who make you feel good. I follow a lot of body-positive accounts personally because that’s more along the lines of the stuff that can be triggering. It’s nothing worse than being bombarded with a bunch of messages from diet culture. A few accounts I love are @theantidietplan, @dietiticiananna, and @diets_dont_work_haes.

What is next for you? 

Well, I am currently working on my third book. I’m also focusing a lot of attention on my nonprofit The Real Girls Foundation as well. We started the foundation right at the beginning of Covid and we were really starting to hone in on some cool stuff, but just like everyone else our lives got a little well a lot topsy turvy. So it’s great to be able to start having in-person events and fundraisers now that more people are vaccinated. In fact, our first event on June 5 is virtual so anyone no matter where they live can attend. All of the info will come through my @achearedd on IG