What’s in a title? What’s the value of being nominated for an award? If you had asked me these questions a few years ago, I may have scoffed at the notion of needing social validation. But this year when I was informed that I’d been nominated for Survivor Woman of the Year 2022, I nearly cried, because of all the titles I could be called by, that of “Survivor” is highly cherished. I am no stranger to awards and accolades. I have been on the receiving end of public recognition since I was a child. But it has been a quiet time of reflection for me since my last significant award in October 2017, which was received for my internet radio show, Inspired Intimacy Talk Radio. It was the second year I’d won the prestigious honor, but less than a month after the ceremony, I attempted suicide for the seventh time.
On the back side of surviving yet another suicidal breakdown, the woman then known as “Dr. Intimacy”, took a step back from everything to figure out her life. I loved my work as Dr. Intimacy, but I didn’t love my life and I didn’t love who I had become. Perpetuating the image of someone who had it all together, I had inadvertently become a hypocrite. I have never seen myself as one who has "arrived", but the wisdom and insights I shared were so powerful and life-transforming to those who followed me that I guess they just assumed I had mastered the application of what I teach. However, that was far from true, and the pressure of maintaining my public persona only added to the agony of my personal life.
It has been more than four years since that suicide attempt, during which time I have become a strong advocate for mental wellness. I must admit that cultural stigmas caused me to shun treatment after being diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2009. I needed help that I wouldn’t seek, and I suffered the consequences for that. But now I realize that it is better to be stigmatized than depressed, stressed, anxious, sleepless, confused, isolated, or… Dead! After finally getting some treatment and confronting my issues, I am looking forward to the next chapter of my life.
I know many people know m as "Dr. Intimacy" and have grown fond of that persona, but I have retired my Dr. Intimacy brand for now. Maybe I’ll pick it up again in the future, but I don’t want to encourage people to look for the woman I used to be. That person died. I cremated that old version of myself, had a memorial service, and spread the ashes in the ocean of my past traumas. I am new, my life is new, my perspective is new and that requires a new name and a new brand. I will continue to passionately share my wisdom with the world. Working as a journalist, author, and speaker for more than 30 years, I am well qualified to do so. But what sets me apart from others is not my "years on the job"; it is my wealth of firsthand experience and my legendary personal survival story, and I will no longer treat that as if it is a side note. I AM A SURVIVOR, AND THAT IS NOT A SIDE NOTE, THAT IS THE MESSAGE! So please allow me to introduce you to the new me:
I am SouLah the Legend,
a relevant voice, speaking the universal language of the soul.