Facts and Opinions

Summer Walker’s Social Anxiety

In August 2019, singer/songwriter Summer Walker, announced that she was going on tour. Me, a relatively big fan, freaked out over this news. Now, I can’t say that I knew about Summer before “Girls Need Love Too” hit the radio waves, but if you look at my Apple Music, I guarantee Summer Walker is always an artist that I have recently been listening to. I think I’ve listen to her latest album Over It a million times…no, a million and two times. When I first heard the song, I was greeted with sultry and soulful tones; her voice reminds me of old school rhythm and blues. I was sold. Since then, me, and many other music lovers, have followed Summer’s career, and when she announced that she was going on tour, I immediately tried to gather my coins together and go see my girl sing “Playing Games” in person. The name of the tour, however, was a little interesting. The First and Last Tour…well, it’s pretty self explanatory. It sort of reminded me of The Eagles Hell Freezes Over Tour. After fourteen years, the band came together after they claimed that they would perform together…when hell freezes over. So I was assuming that by her title, this would most likely be the only tour that she will have for a while. Maybe she doesn’t like touring. Michael Jackson, although he did it, he hated it. Maybe she just thought it was tiring. Touring is exhausting, but it isn’t just physically exhausting for Summer, psychologically, it takes a toll on her.

During Summer Walker’s Tiny Desk Concert debut, people noticed that Summer didn’t seem to be acting “like herself.” She seemed nervous and she looked annoyed; singing stiffly into the microphone placed in front of her. To me, she looked tired, but her voice overpowered that. You can’t deny that her voice is three steps towards angelic, but she did look uncomfortable. I wasn’t the only one to notice this. There were so many news publications, people on Instagram, Twitter, and Instagram, and YouTube talking about how Summer Walker didn’t want to be there and how ungrateful she was acting, when it was actually a much deeper underlying condition.

 

 

Summer Walker has spoken out a numerous amount of times about her social anxiety. Social anxiety is the fear of situations where a person has to interact with others. Social phobia is the third largest mental health care problem in the world. Social anxiety effects around 7 percent of the population. This condition is chronic so it can’t just go away, however, there are definitely ways to manage it; medication, meditation, therapy, and etc. A lot of the time, people may confuse social anxiety with shyness or aloofness, but many people who have social anxiety are very friendly, open, and relatively happy people, they just can’t act that way freely due to their disorder. Once I learned about Summer’s dilemma, I could see some symptoms manifest. In a few of the videos that I’ve seen from her tour, you can see Summer standing there almost like a deer in headlights or sitting down very still. Even if you didn’t have social anxiety, picturing what’s going on through her eyes sounds a tad bit terrifying to me. You’re standing in front of a crowd of thousands; people yelling and screaming at you. There are bright flashing lights around, the music booming through the surrounding speakers and you can feel the vibrations of the bass through your feet and up your body. Wouldn’t that trigger some nerves? I get nervous when I go to arcades for that very reason. People are running around, people are loud; talking over each other, pushing, and shoving. It’s typically dark, and there are bright flashing lights from the games that are around. I can empathize with Summer, although my anxiousness is not as severe as hers is.

Recently, Summer Walker has cancelled most of her remaining tour dates due to her social anxiety, and it has a lot of people talking. For those who do not have anxiety, it may be difficult to understand. Many people on the internet are claiming that Summer is acting and that her social anxiety is not that bad; exaggerating her condition for…ugh I hate this word…clout. I didn’t know Summer was a stripper prior to singing, and that’s a big reason as to why people are claiming that she is lying. I do not personally know Summer (I wish I did though); I cannot read her mind, but it is kind of disheartening that so many people are shaming Summer. It’s not the weirdest thing in the world to be a person in that type of industry and have an anxiety disorder. Just think about how many people know her and how popular she is and how many instances she is confronted with having to surround herself with people now; the anxiety factor might have gone up a notch. After accepting her award at the Soul Train Music Awards, the topic of discussion came up once again with people dragging Summer through the mud. Summer has come out defending herself. In an Instagram post, she says…

 

View this post on Instagram

1. bareface & beautiful 2.you know the scariest shit I’ve been witnessing is that most of the women leaving negative comments like “it’s an act” , “I don’t have the right to act like this b/c I’m famous, “bitch you slow” or just flat out making fun of me for being vulnerable. HAVE CHILDREN, these women have children. It makes me feel soo bad cause it’s clear that if the children are developing or struggling with any type of mental disorder such as anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, it’ll be brushed to the side and will never receive any treatment because it’ll just be “an act”. These parents are probably so ignorant that instead of reading up on symptoms they just whoop the child 🤦🏽‍♀️ sad, my shit started at 6 so yes kids have it to.

A post shared by Summer Walker (@summerwalker) on

One of the reasons I started this blog is to shed some light on mental health in the black community…and this kind of solidifies how desperately we as a community need to educate ourselves. Summer is stating some good points with her Instagram caption. Depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and all of the mental health disorders that are in between can affect anyone…that’s right…even you! And it will really hinder a person if they show signs of something, and they are told to ignore those signs; thinking that they will go away or that it can just be suppressed. It seems like we never take black people seriously; especially black women. If we have anxiety or exhibit any emotion that isn’t pure joy and happiness, we are seen as bitches or God forbid angry. We are told that we are faking it. And what’s sad is that it’s other black people that are trying to regress the black mental health discussion. A lot of it has to do with just not knowing and being ignorant to the fact, but there are literally people out there that think that black people just don’t suffer from mental health conditions. I will say, when you have a condition, it is your responsibility to get the help that you need if you are of legal age. My anxiety is…anxiety. I used to feel like someone else was controlling me when I would get into these little mental fits; sometimes I still do. I’ll give myself some credit; I am at a much better place mentally. That came with a lot of self reflection, hard work, more reflection, getting out of my comfort zone, more reflection, a great support system…did I say reflection? If you have done the same and can see some progress, no matter how little, you should pat yourself on the back. Seriously, I hope you’re doing it right now. I think with Summer Walker speaking more candidly about her condition, she can not only start a discussion about anxiety and other mental health conditions in the black community but she can set limits for what she can and cannot do, as well as pinpoint certain methods of healing that may work for herself.

I feel like when people are famous, their fans expect them to be somewhat superhuman. What we forget is that they too are human beings as well. They can get social anxiety; they aren’t immune to these things. There are so many people who look at their friends and family member’s social anxiety, depression, panic disorders, and so on and don’t see it for what it is. They tell them to get over it or to suck it up; not knowing that what they are doing is more harmful than helpful. Anxiety isn’t a little bout of nervousness, it can really affect a person and what they deem to be reality. Instead of pointing fingers and stating that other people’s (emphasis on other people’s) mental health conditions are exaggerated or fake, maybe we can educate ourselves a little better on what some of our peers may be going through. Okay? Thanks.

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Facts and Opinions

SAD…it isn’t just an emotion

We have now made it towards the end of the year. We watched the weather heat up during the month of May, letting us walk around through out the spring and summer season with our arms bare and our skin glowing with the sun’s rays. Then we transitioned into the fall. The leaves on the trees changed their mood; showcasing red, orange, yellow, and brown hues as they fell to the ground. We saw families put pumpkins in front of their windows, getting ready for the night when ghosts and goblins walk from house to house collecting their sugary loot. With the shift in seasons, the air shifts in tune as well; with the weather calling for jackets and gloves. At the moment, it is about fifteen or sixteen degrees; a stark contrast from the seventy degree weather us Chicagoans were still getting in the middle of September. We were practically begging for the weather to get colder. Well now it’s here, and while some of us are embracing the slightly bitter cold with our Ugg boots on our feet and plaid scarves wrapped around our necks, others are struggling to grasp Mother Nature’s changes. Sometimes, it can psychologically bring us down. There’s a reason for that, and it has a name.

Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD is a type of depression that occurs due to the changes in seasons. Typically, it begins to set in at around late fall to early winter, but by spring and summer it usually goes away. Now, that does not mean that episodes can not take place during seasons with warmer climates…it just isn’t as common. There are a few tell-tale signs that may indicate that you may be experiencing bouts of seasonal depression, some may include:

  • if your depression persists nearly every day for most of the day
  • there’s a loss in the activities that you once enjoyed
  • insomnia or difficulties sleeping
  • hypersomnia or irregular sleep pattern
  • increase or decrease in weight
  • a drastic change in appetite and abnormal cravings
  • feeling rather sluggish or fatigued
  • heightened agitation
  • restlessness
  • having a hard time focusing
  • violent outbursts

Remember, just because you exhibit one of the symptoms on this list, it doesn’t mean that you have Seasonal Affective Disorder. However, if the symptom you exhibit is disrupting your way of life and your mental health, you may want to seek some professional mental help. There may be some other factors that may increase your chances of having SAD. For instance, if you’re a woman, it is four times more likely that you will be diagnosed with it than men. If you live further from the equator, then there is a higher chance that you may get it, or if you have a family history of depression or bipolar disorder. Also, age plays a factor too. Younger adults are more affected by SAD. Children and adolescents shouldn’t be overlooked either, they too can experience Seasonal Affective Disorder as well.

Christmas time and holiday cheer may be a positive point during the winter, as well as the whims fall brings, the growth spring attracts, and the warmth of summer, but people with SAD don’t get a chance to experience all of that, and it isn’t that they don’t want to, their brains have a hard time letting them. People with SAD may have difficulty regulating their serotonin. Serotonin is the key hormone that stabilizes a person’s mood. This is a pretty important hormone; it practically controls your entire body. Serotonin helps brain cells and other nervous system cells communicate with each other. It is found in your stomach as well as your intestines; aiding eating, sleeping, and digestion. It even helps heal your wounds, triggering tiny arteries to narrow, forming blood clots. Serotonin is great, but there can always be too much of a good thing. Too much serotonin can lead to depression and excessive nerve cell activity. It may also lower your arousal. Low levels of serotonin can be associated with emotional and behavioral disorders such as suicidal thoughts, anxiety, and OCD. Having high levels of serotonin can lead to osteoporosis; making your bones weaker. Some symptoms of increased serotonin are shivering, high blood pressure, diarrhea, twitching muscles, high fever unconsciousness, seizures, and irregular heartbeat.

Seasonal Affective Disorder may make you feel heavy during the holidays, but there are plenty of ways to manage it.

Medication-

Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors or SSRI’s can be given to people who are dealing with SAD. Some take certain antidepressants like bupropion, which can also be taken to help people stop smoking. It may take a while to find the right medicine for you; all of them do not affect each person the same. Some of these medications may cause some pretty severe side effects. This article by the National Institute of Mental Health helps you understand some of your medications just a little better (https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/mental-health-medications/index.shtml).

Light therapy-

I hadn’t heard of this one before, but apparently it has been used to treat SAD since the 1980’s. This is typically used during the months that contain shorter days and colder weather. The whole idea is to mimic and replace the diminished sunlight of the fall and winter months. This helps the patient get a higher dose of Vitamin D. Vitamin D helps regulate your immune system and nervous system, and of course the brain. It also helps combat some of the symptoms that come with having too much serotonin, like weak bones and teeth. Some people are told to sit in a well lit area to soak up the sun or a light box for about 20 to 60 minutes. A light box blocks out ultraviolet rays. Ultraviolet rays can damage your skin creating premature wrinkles and in more serious cases skin cancer. A light box exposes a person to at least 10,000 lux, an SI unit of illuminance that’s equal to one lumen per square meter. It is more than twenty times the amount of light you would get by being indoors. You would do this first thing in the morning between late fall and early spring.

Psychotherapy-

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or CBT is a widely used method; they even have a specific method for SAD called CBT-SAD. It identifies negative thoughts while trying to switch them with positive thoughts using a technique called behavioral action. Remembering and doing the things that make the person happy may be a positive way to let the person cope during their episodes.

Vitamin D-

It was talked about a little in the Light Therapy section, but Vitamin D is good for your body. The sun is the most natural source, but you can also buy supplements at your local grocery store.

It doesn’t matter what time of year it is or where you are, people show a wide array of emotions every single day. However, for some of us, some of those emotions aren’t so jovial, and it can be a lot harder to overcome, especially during certain times of the year. It may seem difficult, but there are many ways to combat seasonal depression and manage it, you just have to find the right method for you.

 

Sources:

https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/seasonal-affective-disorder/index.shtml

http://www.hormone.org/your-health-and-hormones/glands-and-hormones-a-to-z/hormones/serotonin

UV Radiation

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Journaling

Today’s Affirmations: Pain and Resolution

I re-watched an episode of Uncensored on the television station TV One. This particular episode was on a woman by the name of Tami Roman. For those of you that don’t know who she is, she is most known for being a cast member on the VH1 hit Basketball Wives, as well as being on the original season of The Real World. I didn’t really know much about her, but I really did learn a lot about her life. My Mother used to watch this series, and she would say that Tami could be a force to be reckoned with, and now that I have seen her episode of Uncensored, I can kind of see why.

This woman was sexually abused not once…but twice in her life. The first time was when she was eight years old by her Mother’s boyfriend. I wrote an essay on child sexual abuse. If you didn’t read it, please take the time to do so. The psychological turmoil a child can go through when it comes to being violated at an early age…the list goes on and on. Then while getting gas with a friend, she had her jewelry stolen off her body and was forced to drive to an abandoned warehouse where her and her friend were sexually abused for four days until the person finally let them go. The anger she must have felt; the anger and frustration. I am sure that incident caused her to put her walls up and go into attack mode when she senses that someone is attacking her. I kind of do the same thing. I recently had a person tell me that I was too aggressive, and that if I think someone is trying to pick a fight with me, I shut down or go off…there isn’t really much of a gray area. With that being said, I wanted to focus on pain, anger and of course resolution. Sometimes we can’t control the things that happen to us. The pain and trauma that is inflicted upon us against our will is not our fault. It has no bearing on who you are and has everything to do with them. The mantra is of course for healing any guilt or shame that comes with the wrongdoing that has been forced upon you, as well as soothing the anger and frustration that comes with remembering.

I am not at fault

I am not my trauma

I AM NOT MY TRAUMA

I am not my pain

I may be frustrated now, but I won’t be for the rest of my life

What they did has nothing to do with me and everything to do with them

It’s okay to be angry

It’s okay to not be okay

It’s okay to reach out for help

I will be healed

I will be whole

When I begin to think about the past, I will focus even more on the present and the future

I am my own hero

I am strong…but it’s okay not to be sometimes

This too shall pass

Things will get better

I will continue to have faith…and if I have none at the moment, it will come to me

I will exercise my emotions in a healthy and positive way

I will regulate my emotions when they seem to be too much

Positivity is just beyond the horizon

I will surround myself with people who care about my well being

I will surround myself with people who want me to do better

I will be around people who treat me the way that I should be treated

I will treat people better

I will evolve positively in all aspect of my life

All me hopes and dreams will come into fruition.

I will be alright

 

 

 

 

 

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Journaling

Damaged Goods

I am damaged goods. It’s hard to admit that, but I am. I’m the dented soup can at Jewel-Osco. I’m the slightly torn sweater at the top of the shelf. I have been through so much, at this point, it’s starting to feel like novocaine; numb, a grand loss of feeling. I have opened up about my pain, and I have had a mix of reactions. This vulnerability has jeopardized friendships. It hurts when a person looks at you a different way. The conversations are no longer there. They are nervous around you; they think you’re a ticking time bomb. This admission has pushed “what could have been” relationships in my head. After being told everything under the sun about his life, I decided to share a little of mine (after asking if it was alright of course)…only to be told that I was “too much.” Whew! I can only imagine if I told him the rest of my story. He might have filed a restraining order against me. Jokes aside, that crippled me on the inside. I started to think that I didn’t deserve friends. I started to think that I didn’t deserve love. I started to think that I would never be able to reach a sense of normalcy. Will I ever heal? Mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually…will things ever be at peace?

I am damaged goods, but so are you. Now wait…wait, don’t get upset. I know that isn’t something that someone wants to be called, but it’s true. Everyone is or has been damaged in one way or another. If a person tells another person that they are damaged, they need to find the nearest mirror and say the exact same thing. Everyone has been through something, no matter how big or small it may seem, we have all been through something. Whether it’s as small as failing a test, or being molested as a toddler, neither one of us is perfect. As an extremely Type A individual, this is the hardest thing to take in. I am not perfect. I am not this all mighty being. Now, I am nowhere near average. I am extraordinary, I am powerful…I have so much strength, I haven’t even unlocked all of it yet. However, I am still human. I mess up, and so do others. I messed things up for myself, and people have messed things up for me. I’ve tripped over rocks in the road and fallen into craters, but I didn’t stay on the ground, I got up and kept walking.

After throwing my own pity party, cake, party hats and everything, I decided to search “damaged goods” on YouTube. A little online self-soothing can do the soul good sometimes. I came across this video by Pastor Michael Todd. He has a whole series on being so called damaged. Now, I don’t necessarily agree with everything he says (I don’t consider being gay damaged), but some of the points he makes resonate. In the first video of the series, he used this very clever visual to let his audience get the picture. On the stage was a nicely wrapped present. It had a nice shiny red bow on it; if you saw this present underneath your Christmas tree, your eyes would probably be attracted to it first. As he continued to talk about life taking over, he began to defile this box. He cut the wrapping paper off of it. He scratched the cardboard underneath it. He poked holes in the box, poured chocolate syrup on the box…he just messed this box up. Looking on the outside, no one would want to choose that box now. It’s less than perfect. It’s dirty, it’s tattered, it doesn’t look like how it used to. But inside the box? Inside…nothing had been touched. Inside of the box was this expensive pair of tennis shoes; not a blemish on them. Tye Tribbet did something similar. The video actually went viral a little while ago. He had offered one of his church goers twenty dollars. He bent the bill. “Do you still want it?” The woman that he was offering it to did. He then started throwing the twenty dollars around, stomping on it every way that it goes. When asked if the woman still wanted it, she did. No matter if it has been stepped on or ripped…it’s still twenty dollars! It still has value. You still have value. The outside is so over hyped. A lot of people try to make the exterior look pretty and flawless because they’re afraid to put in the real work to fix the inside. I know I can say for myself I was like that. Going back to the shoe box scenario, on the outside I may have been through something, but on the inside, nothing is touched. The pain, the agony, the suffering…it cannot penetrate the soul. It can’t pierce my heart. It is not the definition of me.

That guy that told me that I was too much, I wish him well, but he was wrong. Being “too much” is just enough for me and the ones that are meant to be in my life. He wasn’t meant to be, and it hurt…it hurt. I cried, questioned my worth, almost thought of begging him to reconsider and try…TRY to love me. How pathetic is that? I’ll answer that for you…VERY! At that time, I thought that this person was going to be it for me. I thought we were going to grow as one and so on and so forth. When it comes to healing, sometimes you have to get down and dirty with yourself. I am hurt in my love life after putting my trust in people who had no business handling it and having it fail. I have a bad relationship with my body. Ever since I was a child, I have never felt my body was my own. Yes, I might think I look nice in that body con dress I bought from Pretty Little Things, but that’s just the surface level. How do I feel about it on the inside? I’ve been told that I was too chubby as a child, later going on to have people use my body and violate it. I feel a detachment with my body. I feel a detachment when it comes to my own emotions. I feel a detachment when it comes to myself. It’s like there are two of me, but one, they two halves will be a whole. You might not want to do it, and you may be a little stubborn, but once you pinpoint the area in where you are “damaged,” the healing will only come that much quicker.

Finding pleasure in pain is no way to live, it’s not. I’ve been holding on to so much anger; what people used to say to me, what people have done to me, what they said I wouldn’t do…that change is rooted in me. It’s time to push that stubborn spirit aside, and say enough is enough. I’m comfortable living in fear; struggling while trying to live my best life. Let’s dissect that sentence; struggling while trying to live my best life. Struggle? Best life? The two do not belong in the same sentence. When your best life comes, there will be no struggle. Now the journey there, well that might be a different story. We are constantly changing, so our “best lives” will always be changing. Whatever hit or miss that comes into your life may nick you, and it may leave a little scar, but it does not touch the soul. The soul is untouchable.

The soul is untouchable.

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