Quentin Vennie chronicles his mental illness in ‘Strong in the Broken Places’

Quentin Vennie, Motivational Speaker & Author - photo Credit: Daryl Taylor
Photo credit: Daryl Taylor

After many years of fighting mental illness, motivational speaker and author Quentin Vennie can freely speak about his liberation.

At the age of 14, Vennie was diagnosed with anxiety and depression. Now 33, Vennie was able to beat his mental disorder, drug addiction and alcoholism. In his memoir, Strong in the Broken Places Vennie talks about his “Redemption through health, wellness and God.”

What steps should be taken in treating a mental illness?

There are multiple factors that contribute to mental illness, including genetic, behavioral and environmental causes. The first cause of action when combating a mental health disorder should not be medication in all instances, and there should be stricter laws, guidelines, regulations and requirements in place to help minimize the over consumption of prescription drugs.

The fact that most doctors are not properly educated on nutrition or naturopathic treatment options serves as a major disadvantage in effective, actionable solutions to such a complex illness. People are more likely to trust the advice of their physician, as opposed to spending hours researching and going through a personal process of trial and error process, therefore alternative information should be a tool used in every doctor’s arsenal.

You said yoga, meditation, and juicing were key to your recovery. Did you also seek counseling? If yes, what happened? If not, why not?

Yoga, meditation and juicing played a very instrumental role in my recovery and current management of my addictions and anxiety disorder. However, I did not seek counseling for two reasons: First, I didn’t know about CBT therapy or any other form of therapy to combat anxiety. From the time I was 14, medication was always the only thing recommended. Second, I had lost complete trust in the medical system because of how my primary physician chose to handle my admission of addiction. Also, addiction runs rampant in my family. My father was an addict, my grandparents were alcoholics, cousins, uncles, etc., so I was honestly a bit embarrassed to be looked at as just another addict in the family tree. I chose the longer, harder road to recovery, but in that process, I learned so much about myself — strengths and weaknesses.

What three things do you want people to take away from your book, Strong in the Broken Places: A Memoir of Redemption Through Wellness?

Generally, I am an extremely private person. However, I chose to write a book detailing my struggles with a mental health disorder and addiction, because I wanted to help save other people from having to go through what I did. I wanted to shed light on these issues in a way that was relatable, personable and approachable. My ultimate goal is to be a beacon of hope to anyone out there suffering, so the three things that I hope people take away from reading my book is pretty simple: You are able, God is real, and prayer works. 

What is next for Quentin Vennie?

For as long as I’ve been doing this work, I still feel like this is only the beginning — I’ve barely scratched the surface. After my book is released I’m going to continue doing speaking engagements and wellness workshops across the country. Currently, I’m working with an organization in New Jersey, the Newark Yoga Movement, which provides yoga and meditation services to students and faculty in public schools in Newark.

I’ll be partnering with multiple yoga, mental health and addiction organizations in the near future to continue raising awareness and providing healthier alternative solutions to combat these life threatening issues. I’m also working with a few rehab facilities in New Jersey, assisting in expanding their mindfulness services to the patients in their programs, and we’re hoping to expand into Maryland within the next year or so. We’re also in talks about doing the same for a few criminal institutions as well.

I’m in talks about opening a juice bar in my old neighborhood in West Baltimore in the next few years. The goal is to employ members of the community to operate it, that way we are not only just providing healthy food options, but we are also providing employment opportunities for the community.

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