Empowering and uplifting women with Vibin Through My Trauma LLC founder, Alexis Neal

FLINT, Michigan — “When I was younger, I was a writer. I used to write my feelings down on paper and hide them in the laundry baskets,” explains Alexis Neal, the founder of Vibin Through My Trauma LLC, inside Barnes & Noble with a side-eyed glance and a smile on her face. The audacity of her younger self, mixed with the sense of pride, causes us to break out in laughter.

The laughter is a quintessential marker of connectivity as we reflect on our relatable Black childhoods, from old sayings like, “You better be sad and wash them dishes” to the understanding that grandma would and did always tell everybody's business.

However, it exposes the turbulent upbringings she and others have faced.

Conversations around mental health and being able to express oneself as a child often were frowned upon, met with consequences, repositioned as talking back, or dismissed entirely. Alexis recognized on her journey that “our parents were learning from their parents, so they didn’t have what we have now.” That level of awareness, alongside close friends expressing, “This ain’t you,” gave her the strength to stop running from her trauma.

Now with four children ages 9, 6, 5, and 2, the path of graduating with a degree in Social Work, and a community of people grateful for her 'Vibin Through My Trauma' self-discovery journal, Alexis has her sights set on stepping into her purpose and helping other women along the way.

The apex is her first Women of Mental Health Brunch and Panel Presentation on May 11, 2024, at Heart of Worship Dance Studio (3417 S Linden Rd) in Flint. 

Flintside caught up with the mother, business owner, and community member to discuss everything surrounding her event and hopes for the future.

The Women of Mental Health Brunch and Panel Presentation brings together a diverse group of Black women to talk about and heal from women's mental health issues.
Flintside: What made you want to create and host an event like this?

Alexis Neal: “As Black women, I can say that we were taught [and] forced to be strong and to keep going. Why do we always gotta be strong? It’s okay to have a moment and deal with our problems. With this, I brought four different women from different perspectives that dealt with some type of trauma. That way, we can help and reach out to those afraid to get help.”

Flintside: The title 'Vibin Through My Trauma' is peculiar. I haven’t heard that type of framing before. Why name this event and your LLC that?

A. Neal: “I’m gonna give all honor to God because I’m telling you, when I went through this self-discovery journal, it started with, ‘What do I wanna do?’ I was given ‘Vibin Through My Trauma,’’ and I sat on it for a couple of months. I went on this journey because I had an accountability partner and was trying to find a purpose. May is Mental Health Month and my birthday, so let’s start May by talking about mental health – women of mental health. That way, you can feel like you’re not alone.”

Flintside: Let’s talk about your journal. How has that impacted your life?

A. Neal: “I taught myself how to create this journal. It is not your ordinary journal. It’s like a workbook. I started with encouraging words and quotes. The first part is asking if you have triggers. The next part is what you’re grateful for because even through it, it’s gotta be something you’re grateful for. The third section is for venting. Instead of venting to other people, vent to yourself if you want to. You can tear it up or come back to it because after we write that down, we don’t feel that way.”

Flintside: This event is Black women-led with a distinguished panel of Black women mental health specialists, professionals, and doctors. How important was it to have this type of representation?

A. Neal: “My panelists don’t know this, but all of them play some part in my life. Chia [Morgan] was always positive – a go-getter. Dr. Quinn, I met years back at a march, and she looked at me and said, ‘There’s something about you.’ No matter what you’re going through, Felicia can look at you, and her whole spirit will change you. Shanise [Ollie] is another person that uplifts and encourages you. All four of them are strong Black women through the eyes of others. We are coming together to let women know they can heal their trauma, their inner child, that you can get out of that shell and be anything you want to be no matter your age.”

“[This event will] break down barriers and [create] a judgment-free zone,” explains Alexis Neal about her mental health brunch and panel discussion. (Courtesy photo)
Flintside: You’re talking about identifying triggers, processing emotions, coping mechanisms, seeking help, etc. These things and others are important, but in what ways do you see this event breaking down barriers to access and the taboo nature of Black people and mental health?

A. Neal: “[This event will] break down barriers and [create] a judgment-free zone. No greater sin is greater than the other so you can’t down me for what I went through. You can’t down me for what I wasn’t strong enough to get up for. The barrier I feel is letting go of those chains – releasing them and being free. Being free and then [connecting] to someone you can trust can help you lead that way. Once you free your mind, you can free yourself from anything.”

Flintside: This is the first event for Vibin Through My Trauma. What plans or intentions do you have in the future?

A. Neal: “I want to start to be engaged. I want to be a public speaker. I want to stand up and tell my side and how I got to where I am today. I truly believe that my story has helped heal and motivate other people. I don’t look like what I’ve been through. I use that negativity for a positive. You may come from a [rough] household, but that doesn’t define you. You change that. I was the first to break a generational curse, and I’m still breaking it so that’s my big gift.”

Flintside: What do you hope the women and perhaps yourself learn about and heal from during this event?

A. Neal: “Self-destruction and then self-doubt are our biggest downfalls. We see people doing that, but we don’t know what they had to go through so it’s better to be yourself. Take care of yourself first. Get to learn yourself. It’s good to be alone. And once you get to that, you become your powerful self.”

Find Alexis Neal and Vibin Through My Trauma LLC on Facebook. Vibin Through My Trauma LLC's first Women of Mental Health Brunch is happening Saturday, May 11 from 12 to 3 p.m. at Heart of Workshop Dance Studio (3417 S Linden Rd) in Flint. Tickets are on sale now.
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Read more articles by Xzavier Simon.