Listen when I tell you this… we need to take mental health more seriously in 2017 and thereafter. I have struggled with mental health issues probably all of my life; but because this issue is not usually discussed in black families, I never really knew what my issues were or how deeply they affected my livelihood until I did the research myself in my adult life. I battle depression and anxiety on a regular, but I try to fight them both with natural meds instead of getting a prescription from the doctor. I have my days where I’m perfectly fine and it feels like I’m floating on cloud 9, then I have my days where I really don’t even want to get out of bed. Some days are better than others and the bad days can really send me spiraling if allowed.
My views of people and personal relationships with those around me suffer more than anything from my mental issues. I have learned to use sarcasm as a crutch and my mouth tends to speak before I think about what I’m even saying. This leads to me offending the people I love most when I’m just trying to use my sarcasm as a means of saying exactly what I feel. It’s my defense mechanism if you will. I have always held in my feelings and emotions from an early age because I never wanted to hurt people’s feelings. I used to put everyone else’s feelings before my own to the point where I was living unhappily just to keep the peace with others. Somewhere down the line, I realized how miserable I was becoming and I began to be a little more vocal about my feelings. However, the timing was always wrong. I would still hold it in but as soon as someone told me how they really felt about me, then that’s when I would let everything pour out regarding my feelings about them. So every little thing they had done up until that point would come out at that moment, which would allow me to feel validation in whatever they were mad at me for.
Fast forward to my 27 year old self and this has left me with very little self realization. Overall I feel like I have no sense of who I am. Every day of my life is spent just trying to make it through that day. My anxiety has driven me to live rigidly by a schedule to even feel like I am doing something with my life. I have to keep myself busy to feel accomplished. If I have too much free time, I find myself driving around aimlessly, spending unnecessary money, or sitting somewhere twiddling my thumbs because I just don’t know what to do with myself! It’s very hard for me to break from that routine; and once I make it home for the day, it’s even more difficult to get me to leave back out. That’s where depression kicks in, leaving me with the feeling of not wanting to do anything at all.
I attempted to find a local therapist about two years ago. I went to one session and found an excuse as to why I did not want to go back to that therapist. I really don’t know if it was an excuse because my mental illness was telling my mind it didn’t want to be fixed or if it was a legit reason that I just didn’t vibe with that therapist. I just recently downloaded the TalkSpace app where I pay a therapist monthly and we can talk via the app as many times during the week as I need. Our communication is via messaging; however, we get one video conference session each month as well. This has been helping me tremendously because it feels like I’m just writing in my diary, but then I get real life responses from a well educated therapist who can actually help me. In the two months that we have been working together, I feel more aware of myself and what I bring to the table than ever before. My confidence had plummeted so much over the years due to anxiety and depression that I really was just existing… I couldn’t even find it in myself to love me. Now I am exploring the options of finding another in person therapist. Maybe not someone local but in a surrounding area, and
I still struggle daily with mental illness, I still struggle with loving myself, hell even liking myself most days (I know you can’t tell but it’s very true)… however, I am taking the steps needed to move forward in finding out who I am and what I want to be known as. It is so important to take care of our minds because that is the one thing that only we know completely what’s there. No one could ever know exactly what’s in your mind no matter how long you sat down and explained it. You have to spend time focusing on yourself, loving yourself, and building yourself; otherwise, you will never be able to love anyone else fully no matter how hard you try. It’s so difficult trying to pour love into other people when you can’t even pour it into yourself. Invest in yourself. Invest in your mental health. Mental health is wealth.