Mental Health Awareness

I have experienced being in a very dark place. At times i still manage to go there. I lost hope, i lost, confidence, and i felt like i lost my mind. Growing up there were no therapy sessions, or someone to check in on you just to ask if you were okay, you were considered weak if you cried or if you couldn’t handle life’s problems. I took my depression as something that wasn’t normal, i wasn’t supposed to feel a heightened sense of dread, worry, pure and utter sadness. I didn’t know at the time why i had those feelings and how i could climb out of the dark ongoing realm that was my life. The feelings i had were so intense, and so powerful, that i contemplated leaving his earth. I thought “I can’t see a therapist people, friends would think I’m weak, they will think I’m crazy. It had gotten so bad that my body was here on earth but my soul had left, my soul changed. I never could comprehend why so many other people in this world  were depressed, how could something like depression intervene with everyday life, Could it really stop time? Could it really stop you from living a normal healthy life? Could it effect the way you think? Hell Yes! That definitely was the case for me. FB_IMG_1539369015587The picture you see below was taken on a pretty bad day. I was highly anxious, just had taken my anxiety and depression medication, it was a bad day. I still managed to pit on my poker face.I figured that i could capture myself in that moment, so if one day when i conquered this i would remember what i felt in that moment. This picture was taken in 2008. I still remember the day, what i ate, what i did, how i felt. I forced a smile to let outsiders know things were perfect.

See, i was good at putting on a facade and portraying perfection, i did it quite well for awhile until i couldn’t any more. It started to show within my character, and sad enough, my big brown eyes. Loved ones knew something in me had shifted, my shift was infinite. I looked in the mirror and i couldn’t recognize this who i had become. I was full of life before, i shined when the sun didn’t, i was bubbly, i was outgoing and loved to joke and laugh. I finally realized i needed help and started treatment. My spirit reached a breakthrough with the help of god, Prozac, prayer, writing, and persistence. I’m saying this to say if you are ever in a place where you want to harm yourself, if you get to a place where you feel sad, worry, and severe anxiety, talk to someone, get help, this does not mean you are weak, You are not alone.

There is a stigma in the African american community surrounding mental health. Having a mental disorder symbolizes weakness. According to NAMI (national alliance of mental illness) “Although anyone can develop a mental health problem, African Americans sometimes experience more severe forms of mental health conditions due to unmet needs and other barriers. According to the Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health, African Americans are 20% more likely to experience serious mental health problems than the general population. Common mental health disorders among African Americans include:

  • Major Depression
  • ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder)
  • Suicide
  • Post Traumatic stress Disorder

“African Americans are also more likely to experience certain factors that increase the risk for developing a mental health condition:

NM-Mental-Health-Community-Workshop

  • Homelessness. People experiencing homelessness are at a greater risk of developing a mental health condition. African Americans make up 40% of the homeless population.
  • Exposure to violence increases the risk of developing a mental health condition such as depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder. African American children are more likely to be exposed to violence than other children.In the African American community, many people misunderstand what a mental health condition is and don’t talk about this topic. This lack of knowledge leads many to believe that a mental health condition is a personal weakness or some sort of punishment from God. African Americans may be reluctant to discuss mental health issues and seek treatment because of the shame and stigma associated with such conditions.”Many African Americans also have trouble recognizing the signs and symptoms of mental health conditions, leading to underestimating the effects and impact of mental health conditions. Some may think of depression as “the blues” or something to snap out of. This is not something you can just ignore and sweep under the rug. If you notice that a loved one is not themselves and you notice a shift, step in, be there, listen, it could be a matter of life or death.

If you feel down and need extra support please call  (1800)-662-HELP (4357 you really don’t have to experience pain and fear by yourself. I made it through my storm, at times it can be challenging, but I’ve gained the tools and knowledge to manage my major depressive disorder by attending cognitive therapy, attending support groups, and starting a blog. Don’t let life stop when that light goes out, find another source of light and let it carry you to utter happiness.

 

Pic Credit: https://nmblackhistorymonth.com/event/mental-health-and-the-black-community/

Featured Image: https://www.mentalhealthfirstaid.org/

                                                                                                       

 

 

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A letter To Isaiah

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Dear Love,

Please don’t be upset with me, i did it for me and daddy. I know it sounds so selfish but i was scared, alone, and had no support. I think about you all the time, i always wonder what you would have looked like? would you have looked like me? would you have looked like your father? would you have those big beautiful brown eyes? or chocolate dark skin like me and daddy. Most nights i dream of you, you come in my dreams in all white, you touch my face with your tiny hand as i am down on my knees, you look at me in my eyes and say “mommy, i’m okay, god is watching me until you get here”, i cry when you walk away and take tiny steps into the white light, i want to hold you, i want to feel you. I’m sorry you had to feel the pain of being ripped apart, it was painful for mommy too, i thought about your tiny brain crushed, you little legs broken, your heart disconnected. I’m sorry i couldn’t protect you, i’m sorry that i didn’t listen to my first mind telling me to keep you.

I loved you from the moment i heard of your presence, but mommy wasn’t ready and daddy was just as lost as i was. I know you heard me crying at night, did you hear me? did you feel me rubbing you? telling you i love you? I can imagine your laugh if i tickled you all over. i can hear your cries from a fall, i can hear a coo and see your bare smile when i make funny faces. I can hear your cries, i can smell you. Can you forgive me? can you forgive me for ending a precious life before it begun? You would have been 10 years old by now, now that i think about it i could have made it work, you coming into this world wasn’t a curse or a burden, but a beautiful intricate gift from god. Mommy got help from your loss, i tried so hard to forget you but you remained in my mind, in my heart. No amount of medication or therapy would keep me from you, it didn’t matter what i did, you were always on my mind, In the morning when i would wake, until the evening when i would close my eyes. At night i pray that when i leave this world i can go straight to heaven to see you,  if you see me in heaven will you recognize me?  Mommy has healed and it took a lot of work on my end to come to terms with aborting you. Now all i can do is hope and pray that i will be blessed with another intricate gift from god, your brother or sister. Even though i never had the chance to meet you i love you like i would if you were here.

 

                           ♥♥♥ Thinking of you daily, love always

                                                                                                                         – Your Mommy

The Healing

At this point in my life i focused on getting mentally better and becoming spiritually  stronger. I was anxious about Rachel’s vineyard but i knew that it was what i needed to heal. God and i had plenty of conversations throughout the day and night. My faith was stronger than it had ever been. Being in a relationship was the furthest thing from my mind, i really just wanted to be alone, i wanted to figure out what kind of woman i was going to become after the storm dissipated.

I still attended therapy once a week and took my Ativan as prescribed. Ativan made me sleep most times so i would usually take them at night to help me with my insomnia and anxiety. I was was still unsure of the Prozac, i knew i needed to take it. My relationship with God was becoming stronger, but the feeling of hopelessness and dread still remained.  I knew that if i started to take the medication or at least try it, i would become the person i was before my abortion. I knew God had was the only healer i needed, but i realized that physically i needed some relief, My brain was experiencing a chemical imbalance. I started taking the Prozac daily and i noticed a change in my mood,  i started to feel normal again, i figured the Prozac was starting and already had taken its course, working through my bloodstream and making its way to my unbalanced brain.

My mom and i were transitioning to move. I was excited to get away from the place where i had experienced my depression and trauma. After we moved into our new place, i finally felt like things were getting better for me. Dre would pop into my mind on occasion, but when the thoughts of us entered my mind i would do something to distract me.  I figured if he really loved me and wanted me, he would make an effort to do so, but he never did. My aunt invited me to take a trip to New York city. My anxiety screamed “no”!, but my gut told me to go for it. I had never been out of northern California, EVER! i had never been on a plane, Shocking right? This was the time for me to take chances and experience things i never experienced. This was my redemption. In 2009 at the beginning of summer i took my first trip to New York. I enjoyed the trip, it was fun aside from the rude new York people. I was content, i had no panic attacks, no depression, i was actually able to enjoy my surroundings and the company of my aunt and her best friend. Before my new York trip i started talking to a guy on Myspace, yes! i typed right, Myspace!. He seemed really nice so i thought what would be the harm in just talking and getting to know one another. We exchanged numbers and we started to talk daily. We even talked while i was discovering new York. This guy was different, he wasn’t what i was used to at all, i knew he wasn’t Andre. He listened and he was consistent. I really liked him. I knew that i had to have “the talk” with him when i returned from new York but that that moment i enjoyed Manhattan and Harlem. I saw so many people, i saw so many beautiful things my senses were occupied with something other than nervousness and fear. I had so many thoughts running through my head about this new guy, Would he think that i’m weak? would he think that i’m crazy? is he going to accept my skeletons if we get serious? Would he hurt me the way my ex hurt me?

When i returned to California i came back a new person. I looked at life differently. Even though i was only in new York for a week i felt liberated. I was confident and the anxiety and depression not once visited.  The day that i returned home i agreed to meet this new guy in person. We decided to meet at a train station. He rode the train home with me. He was, sweet caring, attentive, and very patient. We talked the whole train ride. It was something about him that put me at ease, i was able to be my new self around him. We continued to talk after our first encounter.  We went on dates but i knew that i had to tell him my truth before we went any further.

I was nervous and thought the worst before i told him, but if we were going to get serious he needed to know my truth. One night while we had one of our intellectual conversations i told him. His reaction surprised me. He didn’t judge, he did not criticize, he just listened. From there we went on romantic dates, he would bring me flowers, we would talk and laugh and enjoy each others company. I knew he was the one because he watched one of my favorite romantic movies “The notebook”, i don’t think any other guy would have tolerated a movie of that nature. As weeks went by we grew close, we were connected at the hip, wherever he was, i was. He had turned into my best friend. As i continued to heal and overcome my depression. Christine and i still continued to communicate and she was a huge supporter and available whenever i needed to talk. I liked our talks because she would revert some of my concerns and cite bible verses. She would tell me “God has forgiven you, he loves you, as long as you believe in him and ask him for forgiveness from your heart, you will be forgiven”. See, that is what i admired about her, She didn’t judge or patronize me, she reminded me of Gods grace and she reminded me that God loves unconditionally. On a day that i needed support and called her she let me know that there would be a post abortion retreat 40 minutes away from where i lived. She gave me details about the retreat and what things were going to take place for my healing, i agreed.thumbnail (8) She explained what the retreat was and what the retreat entailed. I knew it would be beneficial if i attended especially since i knew god was added to the equation for my healing. Before the weekend retreat Christine sent me resources, and a packet on what i would need to know about the retreat. One thing that really stood out in the packet was a letter regarding the a  letter explaining the memorial service that will be held on the last day of the retreat.  I already was having doubts. I never expected a memorial service for my unborn child. It was fitting considering the circumstances. I realized i was given an opportunity to say a proper goodbye to my child. Excited and anxious, i had to think about how i wanted to ask my new guy to join me.  Would this be the ice breaker? is it going to be too much to ask of him so early? Well his response surprised me…………

 

Continued in Part. 5