Facts and Opinions

Mental Health Awareness Month

May! I welcome you with open arms! I know this post is a few days late, but it’s alright! It’s the thought that counts, right? In May, nature is blooming; there’s a certain type of rebirth taking place in the atmosphere. The weather’s warmth becomes more consistent. Kids are beginning to wrap up the end of the semester and prepare for summer. People are attending proms and graduations…it’s a beautiful transition from the old to the new. May is the month of renewal; a surge of energy that is needed to inspire and motivate the Earth to continue to create. Like many, we too require the motivation and inspiration in life to keep going, but sometimes, we have roadblocks.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. May has been a month to educate others on the importance of mental health, help people better their mental health, and celebrate the little victories that come with every step in the journey ahead. Slowly but surely, the curse is lifting, and the stigma is breaking. Mental health should not be something that’s seen as taboo. We all have brains (even if some people don’t seem to use theirs efficiently), and the brain like any other organ can be injured. It’s time to stop being afraid on speaking up about how we feel.

By dictionary definition, mental health is quite simple. It’s a certain level of psychological well being; the state of someone who is functioning at a satisfactory level of emotional and behavioral adjustments. Mental health can affect and influence the ability to enjoy life. Picture your ideal vacation spot. It’s right there; just a few steps forward and you’ll be there. But suddenly, this clear glass box falls around you, keeping you from moving anywhere. To me, that’s how I feel when my mental health isn’t A1. I can envision my happiness, but something is blocking it.

There are so many things that can cause mental health issues; the cause can be quite complex. From genetics, biological factors, past trauma, drug usage, or just the environment that you’re in…it can all have an effect on the brain.

Of course….*deep breath*…..MENTAL HEALTH IS NOT JUST A ONE RACE ISSUE! Every race struggles with it, however, there are races that are more hesitant to explore it and heal the wounds that are left. That is one of the reasons why black mental health is something that is so important to me, because even though we are making more and more of an effort, we can still do so much more. Our mental health matters more than we think it does. Mental health is not a white issue; if you have a brain you can suffer from mental health. It’s time to stop sweeping our health under the rug, I cannot stress that enough.

Everyone deserves to feel good. People deserve to love themselves. People deserve to give themselves a good life. Throughout the month of May, I will be talking a little bit more about my mental health, as well as other issues that effect the black mental health community that need to be addressed.

Peace and blessings

xoxo

 

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Journaling

The Summer Glow Up

I’m stuffing my face with a pack of Mrs. Freshley’s Mini powdered donuts. I’ve never heard of the brand, but their donuts satisfy my sugar craving. You see, this is the last time that I will be eating sugar for probably a very long time. This month has been littered with a lot of lasts. Last Saturday, that was the last time that I ate meat. I shivered as I ordered a Turkey Tom from Jimmy John’s (a place I will miss dearly). As I am studying for finals, I am envisioning a better me, and I want this summer to be time where I put my “glow up” in gear.

When I come home in a few days after finals, the first thing I’m going to do is rummage through all of my clothes and model them in my room; the ones that don’t fit I’m going to give away. After that, I’m going to usher in a new sense of style and replace the old with the new. I want to rearrange my room and decorate it. Your space is very important, so it shouldn’t look like just anything. I want to buy a plant and create a little station for the crystals that I bought last spring. I want to place at least two paintings on my walls too, and maybe a little figurine or sculpture somewhere.

I want to get my body in shape. I always want to workout, but then I think about it, and laying in bed, scrolling through my phone on Twitter filling my brain with mush sounds a lot better than potentially twisting my ankle on a treadmill. Working out is not my favorite thing to do, but it’s all about making it fun! Going out to get a gym membership just to lift some weights and do the stair climber for five minutes would be a waste of time for me. The Bar Method caught my attention recently. My friend in New York has been raving about this place, saying that it’s made her stronger and has “totally and completely changed her life.” After looking at a snippet of their workout online, I loved the ballet aspect, as well as what parts of the body I would be isolating in the workout. Looking at the people shaking from the many reps that they were doing was a little intimidating, but I am up for a challenge. And I can’t lie…I’m excited to buy the cute little socks.

I want to wake up earlier in the morning. If I don’t have work, you won’t be seeing me until 3:00 pm. I want to wake up at at least 7:00 am. I want to make a whole morning routine:

  • First I would stretch. This would mean that I would actually have to get out of bed. I have a yoga mat that is still wrapped in its plastic that needs some loving.
  • After that I would do a fifteen minute warmup for the day. I have The Bar Method online, and their fifteen minute workout was pretty refreshing. I will say, it would be a lot better if I had an actual bar installed in my room, but that’s too much money, and I have a chair that will suffice.
  • I’ll freshen up with a nice bath while playing my morning routine music. It’s full of Anthony Hamilton, Erykah Badu, Jill Scott, Lauryn Hill, and etcetera. It’s just a great way to set the mood in the morning. India Aire’s Video always puts a smile on this melanin girl’s face.
  • After putting on my clothes breakfast, I have breakfast. This goes into my next transformation…

To go off of what I mentioned earlier, I am cutting out meat, sugar, and gluten…I would say dairy, but like Oprah, I love bread. Cheese, milk, yogurt and things like that are a no-go, but I can’t let go of bread. Chronic illness is the main reason for this. I don’t plan to live with this forever, and I know the first step towards healing is what you put in your body. My friend and I are going to hop from health food store to health food store and buy a bunch of core healing edible things like sea moss and chickpea flour. I’m going to cook my meals and prep them for the week…vegan meals. I winced typing that. That is something I never thought I would ever type, say, think or fathom…me….vegan? I don’t know, I’ve heard so many people say that it made them feel better, and I want to see if I’ll be one of them at some point. I should eat to live, not live to eat. Besides, now I’ll learn to make more than a good bowl of cereal. Let’s see if I can actually follow a recipe, huh?

I want to reconnect with myself. I feel like I have days where I’m so in tune with who I am, and other days where I look in the mirror and don’t recognize myself it seems like. I want to be whole. I want to continue going to therapy. I want to continue exercising these demons I call anxiety, depression, and insecurity. I did a group therapy session, but I would much rather be one on one with my therapist. Not to be selfish, but there were a lot of things I didn’t get a chance to mention. I will make sure I cover all those bases this summer.

I want to be closer to God more importantly. That is the main shift I need. I’ve always been the type of person to think I need to do things by myself. I am going to work on asking for help…more more importantly…I need to work on asking Him for more help. Not to get all churchy on you, but he deserves way more than I’ve been giving.

I have had many times to change, and I didn’t go all out with it. Now, I have to. I think my problem is thinking I have to do everything all at once and then it’ll fall into place. This is going to test my patience and my endurance; my will and my faith. I’ll be recording my process and keeping track. I begin as soon as I get home from school. It’s time for me to get my life together. It’s time.

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Facts and Opinions

Back to the Basics

Hello to that one person who may be reading my blog. I really haven’t been on it too much. I guess there really is no explanation as to why. School could be one. School has been kicking my butt ever since kindergarten, but this last semester of my junior year of college is making me wonder why I didn’t drop out yet. It could be my wavering time management. I think honestly it has to do with laziness. But the summer is nigh, and I feel like I will have more energy, as well as more creativity throughout the warmer months. I plan to write more poetry, speak about more issues that are not only affecting me but others, and most importantly have fun with blogging. So expect to see more posts from me in the months to come!

Peace and blessings 🕊❤️

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Poetry

Grin and Bare It

I can’t be free

No use to try and save

I’m chained to the life

Of grin and bare it

Upward cheek imprints

On the other side of ignorant

My legs raw bone

Weak and stagnant

My better half be over lo!

My feet become cemented

I aimed to be

The human anomaly

The black sheep

Of wiser men

But my larynx vocal folds repeat

Tape recorder conversations

I hate to see

My staggered dreams

Be exactly that

And stay that way

Until I kiss the bottom of

Limestone gravel

Sand and concrete

Blue blood obsolete

Not too discrete

But still hid it all

Like money in a mattress

Five hundred

Come up

Worthless

Shallow river bottom reverie

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Journaling, Uncategorized

Three Podcasts for the Black Girl’s Soul

The internet can be a marvelous and intriguing place. The endless opportunities to be connected to one another bring about the sharing of different experiences, stories, and information; enlightening ourselves about the world around us and the people inhabiting it. There are so many modes of sharing on the world-wide web; video, print, and audio. It gives people who crave to express creativity an outlet.
Through different avenues of media, I was able to educate myself on the perils that come with mental health neglect, as well as how many people in the African diaspora fall victim to not getting the help that they deserve. I’ve read psychology journals about black mental health and read novels about one’s journey to find themselves and better their thinking. I’ve scoured the internet and watched countless YouTube videos on young women and men sharing their experiences with mental health and professionals trying to give their expertise on how to heal deep wounds. However, I never really ventured into media that was solely audio.
I hadn’t started getting into podcasts until earlier this year. A friend of mine and I were having one of our weekly conversations about working through certain issues. Although she is around the same age as me, I see her as a mentor of some sort. Our emotions sync up like a menstrual cycle (sorry for the comparison). We will feel the exact same thing around the exact same time. Past trauma? If I’m thinking it, she’s thinking it as well. Ex-boyfriend trouble? There she is feeling the same pain. As we sat and sipped hot chocolate, she asked me how I was doing. With some people if I’m asked the same question, I’ll just lie and say, “oh yeah, I’m good.” With this girl, I am able to tell her how I’m really feeling, and nine times out of ten, she’s felt the same way at some point. I was pouring out my heart to her, talking about all the feelings that were trapped in my head waiting to exhale. She told me that I needed some peace of mind; that sometimes it was okay to sit down, breathe, and listen. She then mentioned these podcasts that she had started listening to earlier in the week that had really given her food for thought.
Therapy for Black Girls
This podcast is hosted by Joy Harden Bradford, Ph.D. She’s a licensed psychologist and breakup coach. The fact that she is a black woman in the psychological field promotes representation in this community. There are black psychologists, and there are black women in the field. The first podcast I listened to of hers was on mindfulness. All of her topics are about a wide array of topics such as “slaying” your anxiety, setting boundaries, and healing intergenerational trauma. With each episode, I took out a pen and paper wrote down what really stood out to me. In the mindfulness episode, she was talking with Shawna Murray-Browne, a LCSWC, about her journey to mindfulness and how she teaches others about it as well. As a healing justice consultant and mind-body medicine practitioner, she is the best person to ask when trying to get some peace of mind. One thing that she said really resonated with me and my situation, and I’m pretty sure it would spark a nerve in anyone who listened. It was a powerful statement, yet so simple: focus on what you can change. Whew! That hit me like a ton of bricks. That made me re-evaluate the importance of my thoughts. She was saying how stress destroys the body and destroys are health, and I am pretty sure the thoughts that I was allowing to infiltrate my brain were slowly killing me. I need to listen to that one again, because the mind is a stubborn instrument. Another one that I enjoyed was her one on setting boundaries. Implementing the popular HBO show Insecure into her lesson caught my attention, and helped me envision a better mental picture because I love the show Insecure, and sometimes it’s hard to picture me in certain scenarios. Setting boundaries is something everyone could probably improve, including myself. Put yourself first is basically the point that she was making, as well as not going back on your word. Listening to this podcast has really put some of my problems into perspective. I have more power than I think. Healing starts with yourself. It starts with how you think. The mind is so powerful…I tend to forget that.
2. Inner Hoe Uprising
I love this podcast so much! It is so real, raw and unfiltered. Four black women talk about themselves, the news that they have seen, and their love lives. Sometimes it’s just a discussion amongst themselves, and other times they interview people who are experts in whatever topic that they’re talking about. This podcast is one of the most open podcasts I’ve heard. They are not shy when it comes to expressing sexuality. They do not shame anyone for the sexual practices that they enjoy (unless they are unethical). It gives four different perspectives about love and lust. They educate others on sex and sex workers, as well as reasons why we enjoy certain things that we do. This is the only podcast that I found on my own, and I am so glad I did. They say what people think, but are too bashful to speak out loud. As black women, I feel there are certain things that the community is taboo to talk about, and sex is definitely one of them. When women talk about sex in general, it is taken as a negative. The stereotype when it comes to sex and black people is that we are over-sexual, so talking about sex in the black community may seem taboo. Talking about sex, sexuality, and sexual behavior is normal and very healthy.
3. Shades of the Soul Meditation Series
After a poem, a quote, and daily mediation, I feel at peace and at ease. Her voice is therapy within itself. In Give thanks for the blessings, she almost made me cry with the words that she cast into the atmosphere. This podcast is perfect to do early in the morning as the sun just comes up (or whenever you decide to get out of bed). Faith Hunter’s demeanor is so calm and positive. In the most recent episode that I listened to, it detailed what I really needed to tackle in my daily life: my trauma is not my life. The unfortunate circumstances that I have gone through are not my sole defining factor. There is so much more to me. In this case, I was able to let my thoughts run wild and free. At first, some of them were scary and negative, but the more I listened to the podcast and meditated on her words, those thoughts slowly melted away. They were replaced with positive affirmations.
After listening to these podcasts for a few weeks, I came back together with my friend and discussed what I learned from them. Comparing notes and pinpointing lessons that we learned throughout the shows let me know that there is strength in numbers. Knowing that there are other people out there who have gone through what I’ve gone through, made it out alive, and are helping others get over their pain make me hopeful for the future. One day, I hope to be able to do the same

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Poetry

Sixteen Shots

(I wrote this poem loosely on the shooting of Laquan McDonald when I was fifteen years old. Laquan McDonald’s killer, Jason Van Dyke, has been found guilty of second degree murder and sixteen counts of aggravated battery. This poem was also inspired by the death of an old classmate, Aaron Rushing, who was killed earlier that year)

Young Chicago boy

But his soul is old

Donning Robin

Angel wings

Head harvested

Cornrows

Butterfly strokes through

Crimson swimming pools

The darkest shade

Of melanin

Skin charred midnight blue

The shade he’s born

The darkest hue

Linked between two continents

Alpha and omega lands

He’s got style

He’s got flare

His fingers are callused

From guitar strings

Piano keys

Held tight

From pencil grips

He’s armed

With thirty dollars

And forty two cents

A brain infused with knowledge

And a decision on where to put it

Intellectual matter

Nourishes gravel rock

And pavement

Empowered by

A wasted, wound down fantasist

A purple heart recipient

Stretched out

Six foot two

Heated metal

Through the woven, cotton shield

Fifteen, sixteen, seventeen shots

Uncovered in fifteen, sixteen, seventeen months

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Journaling

Manifestation…

This whole week has been stressful, but as a college student, what do you really expect? You’ve got homework to turn in, projects to create, course work to study, and extracurricular activities to partake in. Life…life is never set in stone. You might think you have a plan, but life has something else completely different in store, shifting your what could’ve been easy going week into a smorgasbord of chaos and confusion.

This week was one of those weeks. Of course I had the usual school work and homework assigned to me, but I had events to help assemble, work to attend, as well as just going through the psychological roller-coaster that is my emotions. I needed a break. I needed a small period of time in order to rejuvenate and come back to center.

I have just recently gotten into doing this earlier in the year. I’ve found that not only does it calm me down, but it gives me something to hope for in the future. I like to write down what I want to happen in my life down the road; my manifestations. Manifestations are events, actions, or objects that clearly show or embody something, especially a theory or abstract idea. In my case, I manifest by action. I express my dreams, goals, and aspirations through my writing. I love to write. As a child, if I was frustrated and had trouble getting my point across, I would pull out a notebook and pencil and scribble to my hearts content. It has followed me into my adulthood.

Writing isn’t the only way to bring your hopes into fruition. Some people like to verbally say them aloud. Others may enjoy meditating on their affirmations; whatever is more comfortable and more powerful for you. When I write them down, I am able to go back and re-read what I wrote and what I wanted to happen. When the manifestation actually comes true, reading over it makes it that much better! With writing, I remain focused and can actually map out a concrete way of how I would love my life to go. Since organization is something I struggle with at times, writing gives me the sense order that I need in my life (one of my manifestations is becoming more organized).

Today, I wrote out some bullet points of what I wanted to happen throughout my livelihood. Every day, I write these out. Some are persistent, while others may be written down because of something I want to happen within a smaller span of time. For instance, one of my life long goals is to win a Pulitzer one day. That is probably going to be one that I’m going to write down for a while, right? But the manifestation about the pimple I want gone off my cheek? Maybe I’ll only write that down for a few days.

Writing them down, saying them, or meditating on them every day might be tedious at first to some, but it becomes routine after awhile. If you really don’t feel like doing daily manifestations, do them at the beginning of each month! I also like to do that too. I ordered a new planner for the 2018-2019 year, and inside of it there’s a section to jot down notes. I wrote down what I want to see during the month of October. I wanted to be happy. I wanted to be healthy. I wanted to stay focused and remain stress free. There were a few others, but some of those are pretty personal. I felt excited to see what the rest of the month could bring!

If you believe that it can happen, and you want it to happen, do what you can to make it possible. Of course, you have to put in some effort. Manifesting only does so much. You have to actually work towards your goals too. Manifesting is only one part of the equation. It keeps you focused on what you want to accomplish. Manifestations have really made me hopeful for my life. I know I have the ability to have a bright future. If I envision what I want to happen and work towards the goal, whose to say I can’t achieve it!?

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