Jaz Jackson is a self-proclaimed mental health activist. She struggled with depression and trekked a harrowing journey to reach a healthy mental space. In 2012, she was diagnosed with clinical depression and anxiety. With a budding social media platform that boasted 500K followers, no one would have suspected the daily struggles Jackson endured. After her diagnosis, she was prescribed medication that affected her sex drive, memory and weight management. Her doctor told her that writing in a journal, taking part in meditation, eating right and exercising would greatly improve her condition. Jackson at the time wasn’t ready to make those changes. She had a budding beauty career and looked flawless on the outside, but to the surprise of thousands, she was slowly dying on the inside.
Her condition continued to spiral out of control. Her long-term relationship ended, her weight increased and was no longer as active with her son. And, then she took a trip to Miami. It’s where she decided it was time to work with a trainer, Marissa McDonald, and take her doctor’s advice of dealing with her depression in a natural way.
Jackson has found a career path in the wellness and fitness industry. She actively travels and discusses her journey as a mental health advocate particularly for African American women.
Here’s more of her story.
What was the tipping point when you decided to take control of your health, mentally and physically?
In 2016, I reached the height of my depression. Mentally, I was at my lowest point. I found myself in a constant battle between what I knew I deserved versus what my negative thoughts would tell me. In addition to that, I gained a ton of weight. I weighed 190 pounds and I am 5’2”. I was 28 at the time and not being able to comfortably walk up a flight of steps was a sign that I needed to make a change before things became worst.
What was your food regimen? Workout regimen?
For my diet and exercise regimen, I decided to stick to the basics. I’ve done just about every fad diet you could think of. All of them left me frustrated because I wanted quick results. Because I knew this journey was for my mental strength, I took the long route. I stuck to a high-protein diet with complex carbs. Sweet potatoes and veggies became my bestie. For exercise, I went all in, working out six times per week and doing a combination of cardio and strength training.
Did you seek counseling? If yes, what were the major tips or steps you gleaned from it?
Early on in my journey, I did seek therapy. Therapy is an amazing tool for anyone struggling [with] depression. My therapist and I worked on issues of my past that created my depression. One of the major tools I learned from my sessions was the power of journaling. Journaling has helped me release thoughts and feelings on the day to day.
How do you stay accountable?
My accountability comes from knowing I never wish to be that Jaz anymore. Whenever I’m feeling like I wanna give up, I look back at old photos of myself and reflect on times when I wasn’t feeling my best. These reminders keep me on a steady track.
What does your day-to-day look like?
These days, I’m running a growing fitness brand called JSCULPT™️ Fitness. We launched our first product the JSCULPT™️ Fitness belt in the summer of 2017. Since then, my life hasn’t been the same. Our goal is to create a community of women who are excited about fitness and living a healthy lifestyle. Outside of that, I am a mother and still maintain a consistent workout schedule. I think Bush is my middle name now.
If you could change anything about the world, what would it be?
I wish I could change the stigma that is associated with people who suffer from depression. There isn’t a “look” or a demographic that it hits. Anyone — and many do — have experienced some form of it. I wish that I could change the idea of being “crazy” that associated with having the disease.
If you could change anything about yourself, what would it be?
You know, I’m in a really good place in life right now where I’m happy with the person I see. And, I’m not talking about physical characteristics. Spiritually, I’m loving me right now so I don’t wish to change anything at this point.