I first met James at a picnic in the earlier part of the summer. We began to chat about who we are and what we are doing in our lives. James told me that he was in school and what he was doing career wise. Then, he told me his story…whoa! He has over come so much and he definitely needs to give his testimony whenever he is ready. After hearing about James’s journey thus far, I told him then that when I got Melanin King Monday up and running, he would be a feature because I NEEDED him to show other Kings that they can make it out despite their circumstances and obstacles. I am humbled and grateful that I know some of his journey and I am looking forward to him being apart of the next phase for Melanin King Monday so that he can share with you what he has shared with me. For now, here’s a glimpse into our Melanin King feature in his own words: James Garner.
I was born and raised in Buffalo, NY. For a long time I thought being on television specifically a news station such as CNN was my early calling. I decided to major in communications and broadcast journalism in undergrad and was excited about my first internship at 93.7 WBLK a local radio station that covered Western NY. After graduation, my first real job was not in the field I intended. I began working with individuals with developmental disabilities. For the first year this job was very challenging for me because I did not have a passion for working with this population. I wanted to be on TV. However, as time emerged the gift I thought I would use for telling news stories became the gift to provide support through the implementation of goals and treatment interventions to those who depended on it to not only survive but live a functioning life.
Years later I relocated to Atlanta, GA where I gained experience working with children with behavioral issues. These children were not like normal children I thought to myself. I wanted to know why. So I began researching the background of these children’s history. Many of them if not all were abused sexually, physically and verbally; which traumatized them. Mentally a child is not strong enough to deal with trauma. This trauma influenced and impacted the children’s behavior. I spent the next 3 years working at Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health mentoring and providing support to children who seemed abandoned and hopeless. Many of them did not trust a soul and acted out in negative ways. However I was able to break through to many of them a build a rapport. After I decided to leave Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health, I began working for Georgia Regional Hospital. It was this job that encouraged me to enroll in school to begin my graduate’s degree in the Clinical Mental Health specializing in trauma at Walden University.
Working at Georgia Regional Hospital has truly opened my eyes to the world of mental health and the importance of mental wellness. I have gained so many skills and resources and connections. I am a part of a treatment team and work closely alongside psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, mental health counselors and treatment team facilitators. I work with people diagnosed with severe mental disorders such as bipolar, schizophrenia, depression, anxiety, suicidal ideations, borderline personality disorders, anti-social personality, and PTSD. I facilitate groups such as vocational rehab and vocational education. These groups are geared towards educating the individuals on how to enter or reenter the workforce despite having a mental illness.
Many of the individuals feel hopeless and believe they will never be able to wok again. But once they enter the therapeutic work program in which I oversee hope and self-efficacy is restored. Self-efficacy refers to an individual’s belief in his or her capacity to execute behaviors necessary to produce specific performance attainments. Self-efficacy reflects confidence in the ability to exert control over one’s own motivation, behavior, and social environment. Other than working with the severe side of mental health. My ultimate goal after graduating with my master’s degree is to continue on into the doctoral program. I am going to open a private practice that treats and heals trauma. Through the graduate program I have learned when someone has survived an extremely traumatic event, it can be painful to revisit. Many people would prefer not to speak on the event, whether it was a car accident, fire, assault, childhood sexual abuse, medical emergency, loss of a child or divorce. However, our trauma memories can continue to haunt us, especially if we avoid them. Untreated trauma not only affects us mentally and psychologically but physically as well. This is where my passion lies- empowering people to reclaim their lives and push through the trauma. I encourage everyone who has been through a traumatic event to talk to someone anyone, suppressed trauma is more painful than the actual event itself.
“There are wounds that never show on the body that are deeper and more hurtful than anything that bleeds.”― Laurell K. Hamilton,