Jemma Regis is a businesswoman, published author, and speaker. She is also the heart and soul behind the soul-stirring blog Diary Of A Successful Black Woman sharing her life experiences, paving the way for others to heal and grow through her scribed expressions and vulnerability. Her determination to overcome 35 years of depression using her 4-step process, drives and motivates her to inspires others in overcoming emotional and mental adversity.
A qualified chef with over 30 years’ experience, she is the owner of the Bespoke cake company Jemz Cake Box A sought after cake maker she has made cakes for various British actors 10 time Grammy Award winner Kirk Franklin. Her cakes have also been featured on BBC TV
As a chef, she has cooked for UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, American Gospel music singer and songwriter Marvin Sapp. Multiple Grammy, Dove and Stella award-winning, performer, producer, and songwriter Fred Hammond.
Her heart for people has taken her the Townships of South Africa and rural Kenya building houses with Habitat for Humanity for families in need. Ever up for a challenge she has climbed Mount Toubkal, the highest peak in the Atlas mountains raising money for children in need. Her compassion for individuals suffering from depression is the driving force behind her charity project ABCD – Alone Behind Closed Doors, a program that provides luxury food hampers throughout the Christmas period tailored made to the dietary needs and ethnic background of families or individuals affected mental health.
Her first book God’s Romantic Getaway highlights her passionate pursuit for deep intimacy with God, through this she now inspires and leads others to do the same. Her honesty and vulnerability in her book, on her Retreats and Away Days, equip and teach all genders and ages practices to maintain spiritual intimacy with God
Having read such an inspiring introduction, it is hard to believe that this Christian woman suffered from depression and suicidal tendencies, which resulted in three suicide attempts, for 35 years, all the while portraying to the world a profile of an accomplished, successful businesswoman.
Jemma, known to many as Jemz, was born in the late 60’s into a typical strict Caribbean family. The second of seven children, she recalls much of her childhood as one steeped with great responsibility.
“From the age of five life revolved around work and chores, and I saw nothing wrong with it. The completion of chores to the highest degree was a perfect medium for securing my parent’s love as I worked to gain their approval. My mother brought my older sister and me up to be ladies, who could cook, clean, and look after the house. It was important that should anything happen to her we would know how to fend for ourselves. Her ways were strict but in many ways highly beneficial.”
Jemma recalls her early years as being somewhat lonely and fearful
“I didn’t reralise I had a traumatic childhood until I started writing my second book A Precious Stone. It was there I saw the many insecurities I had developed through reoccurring incidents that produced strongholds that lay dormant until my later years. The surfacing of these strongholds, such as low self-esteem, lack of self-confidence, timidity, fear, and paranoia triggered and fulled my depression and inability to understand myself and be understood. The struggle to see myself as others saw me soon developed into self-hatred, and I learned to hide behind a very lonely and painful mask”
Although she was baptised at the age of thirteen, her genuine search for a personal relationship with God began aged seventeen after the premature death of her mother.
“I had never experienced such intense pain until we lost mummy. Accepting her passing was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. Mummy’s death left me vulnerable and exposed to a world I wasn’t ready to enter, and when that world met my insecurities I became a prisoner of my fears. In desperation, I turned to God, but never truly understood what it meant to surrender entirely to Him and so I was never truly fulfilled. My desire to be totally satisfied by and in God created a thirst and hunger that soon became an obsession, something I was not prepared to live without.”
Faced with many obstacles, challenges, and distractions Jemma’s search for ‘more than just church’ became a lifelong goal. Though she spent most of her years in church, she has had a fair number of encounters with what some Christians refer to as ‘the world,’
“From as far back as I can remember God had always been a part of my life. As a young child, we were brought up to fear and honour God. It was something that never left me. Even when I went through my rebellious stage, God was always in my thoughts. Growing up church was great, it was the place where I got to hang out with like-minded friends, sing in the choir, even catch up on the latest gossip. But something was always missing. At the time, I would have argued of course I have a relationship with God. But honestly, I didn’t really. In my mind, the relationship was thus – I spoke; God listened and granted the desires of my heart, the end.”
Having wandered from God’s paths on many occasions, Jemma admits her desire for more of ‘Him’ has always been rooted deep within, but one that came with added pressure
“As well as my mental health issues, what I now know to have been lack of intimacy with God had also contributed to my depression. I became a Christian because I wanted a relationship with God. According to the bible God spoke and interacted with His children, I wanted that. According to the preachers, I was supposed to have access to a life of joy and abundance. But I was lonely, depressed, and struggled to recgonise God’s voice.”
“Why was I depressed? Why wasn’t the name it claim prayers and declarations working? Why couldn’t I break free from the bondage of depression? Why couldn’t I see what others saw in me? Who was God? Where was God and why wasn’t He coming to my rescue? If praying, crying and reaching out to God over and over and over again was not enough, then what was? If lying in bed desperate, scared, emotional, and lonely was not enough to get God’s attention, then what was? What did I have to do for God to realise I had come to the end of my tether and needed His help?”
“All I have ever wanted was to be free from depression and my emotional bondage and experience a real, tangible, intimate relationship with God. I wanted to call and have Him answer. I wanted to sense His presence and feel Him. I wanted to know without a doubt in my mind that God was real because I had tasted and embraced Him for myself.”
“The Bible I read was full of God speaking and revealing Himself to people and I wanted Him to do the same for me. After all, He had not changed, He is the same yesterday, today and forever. My search for freedom and such intimacy with God has seen many highs and lows, many expressed in my book as well as real-life issues that are rarely addressed, especially in the church, the same issues that are claiming the lives of young, old, successful, unsuccessful, ministers, leaders and everyday people like me and you today – depression. My testimony is one of “hope” to the hopeless, oppressed, depressed, and even suicidal.”
In her first book, God’s Romantic Getaway Jemma’s personal account of her 35 year battle with depression as a born-again Christian and deliverance through a soul-wrenching search for intimacy with God earned her a nomination for a ‘Wise Woman Award 2014‘ in the ‘Life Turnaround’ category. Her book has also featured in Keep the Faith and Christianity Today magazines as well as Revelation TV and ACTN Cloud Nine TV in Trinidad.
Today, Jemma travels, sharing her testimony, inspiring and teaching others on how to overcome a lifetime of emotionally and mental adversity and experience true healing and lifestyle changes and the pursuit of spiritual intimacy with God. Her life is a testimony of hope.