Mention my name to the average person, and they will say, Jemma who? Mention my name to a handful of people whose lives I have touched or impacted in some way and they will no doubt reel off an endless list of who I am, what I’ve accomplished and how relentless I am about the work I do. Sit down and speak to me and I will tell you the story from a completely different perspective, one of a lady saving the world, while fighting to save her own life.
I don’t want to waste too much time speaking of my accomplishments, you will hear about a lot of those via my blogs. However, I will say, hold on to your chairs, hats, and weaves, you about to get inside the head of a successful black woman, living with depression. I may surprise some of you to know that I am a Christian, have been since the age of thirteen. I carried my faith with me all through my depressive years, even when I was swallowing handfuls of pills and having my stomach pumped I was talking to God. But in the end, I had to realise Chruch could not save me, God maybe, but not the church.
So here I am a stone throw away from 50 bearing my heart and soul on how I manage to get up every day and do the things I do that leave people blessed and in awe, often with the weight of the world on my back and a heaviness that sometimes takes all my energy to fight off, before I’ve even tackled my first task.
Ok, enough of what to expect here is a bit about what I have achieved..
I am a successful entrepreneur. A published author, a qualified chef with over 27 years’ experience, the founder and Managing Director of the bespoke cake company Jemz Cake Box as well as the inspiration behind the GRG Intimate Seclusion Retreats. Throughout the 90’s I also ran a highly successful Catering business under the name of “Jems Caterers” of which many can testify my hands are blessed!
As a chef, I have cooked for the likes of Tony Blair, former UK Prime Minister, singer-songwriter, author and political activist Sir Bob Geldof, American Gospel music singer and songwriter Marvin Sapp. Multiple Grammy, Dove and Stella award-winning, performer, producer and songwriter Fred Hammond, to name a few. As a cake artist, my attention to detail and amazing cakes set me apart from the rest. This has led to opportunities to make cakes for various British actors, the interior designer Kelly Hoppen, as well as the BBC and 10 time Grammy Award winner Kirk Franklin.
I have been involved in numerous charity project which ranges from building houses in the Townships of South Africa and rural Kenya, to climbing Mount Toubkal to raise money for children in need. In the last two years, I have begun my own community project drawing on my chef experience to provide luxury fully loaded homecooked hampers for families and individuals in need over the Christmas period suffering from mental health and other life-challenging issues. My plans are to turn this into a registered charity thus enabling me to do more for this worthy cause not just at Christmas but also throughout the year.
Having read such an inspiring introduction, it may be hard to believe that as a Christian woman, for the most part, all the above was done while suffering from heavy bouts of depression and suicidal tendencies, which resulted in three suicide attempts, low self-esteem and lack of self-confidence, paranoia, and self-hate, whilst portraying to the world a profile of an accomplished, successful businesswoman.
All, I have ever wanted was to live in a body, with a mind that was not affected by mental health. To feel what it felt like to be a little discouraged, but not to the point where all was doom and gloom. To have confidence in myself, and not have to rely on the words of others telling me so. Today, I realsie how impossible it would be for me to possess a mind like that and be as successful and loving as I am. My mental health issues are a result of a somewhat dysfunctional childhood. Many of my work ethics stem from that upbringing, so to the deep compassion of which my heart is stirred to reach out and help and support others, so to seperate myself from one, would mean separating myself from the other. In many ways, the very thing that has the power to claim my life is the very thing that moves me with compassion to save the lives of others.