By Brigette White, Special to the AFRO, [email protected]
“Zewidituisms X,” is a coming of age audiobook about a young African American girl growing up in Washington, D.C. and learning to navigate the world.
The audiobook, geared towards millennials, is written and published by Zewiditu [Jewel, 30, who was born in the District.
“I am a proud fourth generation Washingtonian,” Zewiditu Jewel tells the AFRO.
Zewiditu Jewel, who is currently in her sixth month of sobriety, tells her story of becoming a champion over her lowest moments in 2017. She uses her confessions to inspire a community that battles mental illnesses mostly in silence.
Zewiditu, her birth name, which means “crown” in Amharic, went into adulthood not knowing that she had a mood disorder. Like many people with addiction issues, she suffered panic attacks and life trials that ultimately resulted in alcohol abuse. She worked through a variety of alcoholic spirits that comforted her temporarily but it wasn’t until she sought out therapy that her mental health became more manageable.
“Thirty-one percent of American alcoholics are young people, and over half of young alcoholics have been diagnosed with anti-social personality disorder (ASPD),” according to the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.
The majority of millennials are actually using alcohol to cope with the disorder symptoms, some of which are depression, anxiety, irritability, fatigue, mood swings and shakiness. Young adult alcoholics include individuals between the age of 18 and 35.
According to statistics, millennial women battle with alcoholism more than men.
“My message is not that everyone needs therapy because we all process differently so listen to your conscious,” said Zewiditu Jewel. “The ego is the voice that tells you that you are ok when you know that you are not. I have thoughts of depression and anxiety on a daily basis. Telling my story helps me get through those tough times.”
In fact, it was her therapist who suggested her to start journaling. When journaling became boring, Zewiditu Jewel decided to begin chronicling her thoughts into what became the audiobook.
Zewiditu Jewel uses her sobriety success to encourage others to help them start sharing issues they might have.
The title “Zewidituisms is a play on Baduizm [which means to allow people to hear themselves]. It is the concept that we all have our own issues and “isms” with us,” said Zewditiu. “I am a story teller. I’m telling my story. If you feel inspired to look into your own and think about that, then you are telling your story.”
A second audiobook is already in the works and Zewiditu Jewel plans to do a tour soon to organizations and schools teaching the lost art of storytelling.
“As Brown people our history was passed down orally. We need to get back to that,” she said. “Writing about our histories is just as effective as reading about someone else’s.”
For centuries, the history, beliefs and folklore of African communities have been kept alive through the tradition of music and oral storytelling.
Michael Anthony, an artist, collaborated with Zewiditu Jewel on this new audiobook. She also plans to have a live band perform when she goes on tour. The relationship with music and storytelling are synonymous.
“He put together some wild arrangements,” she said. “If someone likes poetry but they want to up the ante then [my story] is perfect,” Zewiditu Jewel told the AFRO.