As National Mental Health Month comes to a close we have a responsibility to ask; are you okay, sis? This may seem like a simple question, but you never know the magnitude it holds until someone asks you and you've been holding the weight of the world inside for too long. A few years ago I had my first bought of depression. I mean, I was a happy person who had a thriving social life that was always out of town, making new friends and loved the lifestyle my job provided. Then it happened...I became irritable and withdrawn, hated my job and the people whom I worked with, besides for work rarely left my house, stopped going out to have fun, didn't shop (this was my favorite past time), nothing. It all stopped. After joking with Phoenix how I was so tired and needed time off to regroup, she recommended that I seek therapy. Like most black families, mine didn't discuss mental health outside of dementia, schizophrenia, or PTSD when someone you all knew was diagnosed and you received the gossip. Mental health along with other subjects are just taboo in the black community.
I must admit, I took Phoenix's suggestion with a grain of salt and figured it would be a joke. Boy, was I wrong! Therapy helped me to realize not only did I have major daddy issues, I had mommy issues as well. She helped me to understand that I hated my job because I wanted an out to pursue my entrepreneurial endeavors but was too afraid to do so because I didn't want to lose my cushy lifestyle. It helped me realize that I needed to ignore society's standards for what my 27 year old self needed to have accomplished. Therapy helped me to realize that I'd listened to so many of my friends and families issues and didn't have anyone I felt I could really talk with about how I was feeling. Not because they weren't there, but because I put their needs before my own. I'm the strong friend you read about. The one who will lace up her too-tight Timbs (you've heard the story on episode 3 lol) to go gather some edges, the one who will help you fill out those business and grant applications, the same one who will be right there to pump you up because you deserve more. I strive to be the friend that checks on her friends, but fall short in doing so consistently. So I needed help and therapy was that outlet I so desperately needed. Acknowledging that I was depressed was one of the hardest things for me to do because I'd heard the horror stories and saw the judgmental looks and such. Outside of therapy, I could really only talk to two people who knew exactly what I was going through and we supported each other like no other.
The crazy thing is, I don't know if Phoenix realizes exactly what she did for me that day. She started the ball rolling to freeing me from the mental and emotional prison that I was in. Within three months of attending therapy I'd quit my good paying job of six years, took my 401k and paid up my bills for several months, started my second business, gotten closer to my mom and inched towards a tolerable relationship with my father, started going out again, and traveled. The things that kept my emotions at bay were:
Thanks to my therapist I learned that self-care is paramount to your mental health, sis! We also must educate ourselves on the benefits of therapy and the many mental health disorders that exist. We owe it to ourselves, our children, and communities to lift the stigma that exists around mental health and disorders! Therapy is for everyone. Depression can strike anyone and I'm sure we've all been depressed but may not know how to identify it. Seek help, talk to someone, ask questions. Do it afraid so that you can come out on the other side whole and better than before.
Today, I encourage you to choose things, people, and places to help with your emotional well being because we need you, sis. The world need you. Your family needs you. Too often we hear of stories of people who have taken their own lives who didn't exhibit apparent signs of mood, psychotic, or anxiety disorders.
It is my hope that if you have a similar story to my own, you seek help and soon to do better, sis. Phoenix, thank you seems insignificant of a phrase to offer for helping me through that time frame, but I hope you know just how appreciative I am for it all!
Self Care Suggestions:
Read the extension of our podcast as hosts, Charli, Kay and Phoenix write about issues concerning woc simply because when you know better, you'd do better. Do better, sis.