Trigger warning: Depression, Suicide, Anxiety & Death
Why is this something so taboo to talk about? I remember growing up and just knowing the people around me and in my community didn’t talk about feelings or emotions never sat right with me. I feel like a lot of it fits into the stereotype of Black people always needing to be that strong Black person and in my case, it’s the strong Black woman. It’s an ugly stereotype that has ruined so many people’s lives leading them to believe that they can’t show any type of emotion. It’s ridiculous and it needs to change…
Mental health is such an important topic. It literally affects how you think, what you do, and how you interact with people. If you aren’t taking care of yourself mentally, how the hell do you think you can maintain being heathy physically?? And if you need an example, I’m one. Freshman year of college was shit for me (for lack of a better word). It just was not fun. I had friends, yeah, but mentally, I was just not there. Now, that could be for a multitude of reasons: transitioning from high school to college, being away from my family for so long, the mentally breaking summer program I was in the summer before first semester started, feeling lonely when I wasn’t alone. Who knows?
But in all that time, when my mental health was deteriorating, so was my physical health. I was either sleeping too little or sleeping too much. Eating too little or eating too much. I was struggling to talk to people around me. I didn’t feel motivated to exercise. Pretty much a mess, I would say. That being said, I went and got help from campus counseling services. Honestly, I think just being able to talk to someone outside my life with a new perspective was what helped me the most. Sophomore year was so much better, before, you know, Ms. Rona (COVID) came along.
So my point to all that was that it is okay to admit that you aren’t doing so well and that you may need help. Whether you get it from your family/friends or a professional is up to you, but don’t let anyone tell you that mental health problems aren’t real. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen on Black twitter, people bashing others while they are talking about mental health in general or their own personal problems. It’s crazy that people shame others for just trying to help people.
There is this weird stigma in the community that you can only go to a therapist if you are “crazy” or someone just died. And yes, someone actually said that to me. I told them I went to a therapist during the semester and they actually said that BS to me. This is why people don’t open up to you!!! And when you look at the suicide note and wonder why someone would do what they did, remember you said that bullshit to them. How about you try being more understanding and listen to their problems and try to actually help them and not be a condescending jerk?
And it’s even crazier when you take into account everything Black people go through, especially in this country. And you have the nerve to say that we can’t have mental health problems?? My people are DYING in the street at the hands of those who are supposed to protect us, we are being LYNCHED during our supposed “progressive” era, we are being shot in our own homes, shut out of multiple industries and businesses, forced to walk the pipeline from grade school straight to prison. As well as dealing with racism, sexism, homophobia, and transphobia because if you have an intersectional identity, it’s a million times worse.
I think the worst part of being in the community and telling someone that depression, anxiety, etc. does not exist is telling someone to just pray about it as if it will go away with the snap of their fingers. We rely so heavily on the church and that isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but just hear me out. I’ll say it from their perspective so we all understand. You say faith without works is dead, right? So how can you tell me to just pray about it and just hope things get better without going to actually get help because YOU say it’s wrong to do that? How do you expect things to get better if YOU won’t even let me put in the work??
It just makes no sense to me. You can pray about this and God giving you the strength to get through it, but God also gave you the tools to help yourself. Therapy is out there. Self-care steps are out there. Meditation is out there. Whatever you feel like you need *and is healthy*, please get it! Do not let others tell you to sit there and do nothing because that’s when your mind starts deteriorating and eat away at you.
Okay, I’m done. But, what I’m trying to get at is that it’s okay to feel the way that you do. Your emotions and feelings are completely valid and don’t let your parents, siblings, friends, or strangers tell you how to feel or what you can do to help yourself. And if you’re that person that goes around invalidating people, stop, get some help, because you never know what person you will push to doing something that will really harm them.
- Strike up conversations with your family and friends about mental health and the stigmas around it
- Ask someone how they have been feeling lately and if they are comfortable going deeper, have a real conversation about insecurities and
when they are feeling low and why
- The next time you see someone invalidating someone else and their emotions, call them out on it. Don’t just stand to the side and
watch them tear them apart
- If you are feeling you need help, talk to someone in your family, a friend, seek help from a professional or even talk to me if you aren’t
comfortable with the other options and I could help out as best as I can!
- Start taking care of your own mental health by taking time out for yourself and allowing you to feel the things you feel and don’t bottle
it up inside. Do something that you love and look up good self-care practices