It's very rare that as a community we talk about mental health and how it affects Black people more specially the Black Woman. Women are expected to bare our problems and the problems of our family and our partners without complaint. We are expected to be strong, to be the pinnacle of the household and community and do so while looking good and not breaking a sweat. However, sometimes our hurt, pain and struggle is somehow put on the back burner. A lot of times showing emotions can be deemed weak and being weak is not acceptable, you're are expected at all time to be strong. It is extremely important that we recognize the signs of people struggling with mental health and offer help and more importantly, seek out help when we ourselves are struggling. TheHuffington Postvery recently did a post from a Woman speaking very candidly about her struggles with depression, self mutilation and being suicidal. Minaa B. from the Huffinton Post writes:
I remember the first time I became aware of my own struggles with mental health. I couldn't eat, I couldn't sleep, I isolated myself from my peers and I was extremely irritable and always frustrated with the world and with my life. I was 16 years old when I came to the conclusion that I could no longer handle the life that I was given and I became suicidal. I was consumed and obsessed with the thought of ending my life, and I took the first step when I began to self-mutilate and neglect any health concerns related to my body.
Now, at the age of 25, I take a look back at my fragile 16-year-old self and ask her, "Why didn't you get help?" I see a young girl who was broken, bruised, hopeless and searching for love and belonging. I silenced my hurts and my pains and my thoughts had me enslaved. I carried on in life as if I were completely fine, completely normal; yet, the tally marks engraved on my wrist were evidence that things weren't as good as I portrayed them to be.
I was the student who never gave anyone any problems. I was the child who brought home good grades and I was the quiet, shy, introverted young girl on the block who stayed out of harm's way. I was also the kid who came from Panamanian immigrants who grew up living a poverty-stricken life and lacked resources until they came to America. I came from parents who grew up with the belief that feeding your family was your first priority, so how you "felt" was irrelevant --unless your feelings were going to provide food and shelter. I come from a cultural and ethnic belief that problems are to be dealt with on your own; the idea of seeking therapy was frowned upon and not respected. You don't pay people to handle your problems; you handle them on your own.
So, when I look back at my younger self and I ask her "Why didn't you get help"? I remind myself of how lonely and painful it would have been for me to publicly admit that I was depressed and suicidal. In my mind, I was raised to be a strong, black woman who could handle her own emotions -- not ask someone to help me sort them out. How dare I need treatment for feeling worthless and for being bullied when I come from a lineage of ancestors who used strength and endurance as a way to survive? But maybe our survival tactics are actually causing us more harm than prosperity.
You can read the full article An Open Letter to Black Women about Mental Healthhere.
Have you ever struggled with Mental Health issues? What do you feel is the best way for you or someone else struggling to seek help? Let us know in the comment section below.
By Electa Johnson
Electa is a Writer/Blogger and a self proclaimed foodie. She is in her 20's and figuring out life, love and the pursuit of happiness. Follower her on twitter @emazing17 and instagram @emazing17