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, 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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Journaling

The way Mac Miller died happens quite too often…

Pittsburgh native rapper Mac Miller (born Malcolm James McCormick) has been pronounced dead due to an apparent drug overdose. Miller had just released an  album, Swimming, August 3rd. He was scheduled to go on tour October 27th.

Miller is not the only rapper who has fallen victim to drug abuse. Fredo Santana succumbed to drinking Lean in January. In 2017, music artist Lil Peep, was found dead on his tour bus from a drug overdose. The amount of people who have died due to drugs can’t merely be counted on fingers and toes. Lil Peep was said to have suffered through depression and anxiety. I don’t know what  Mac Miller went through, or if he went through anything a long those lines. The main thing is that he’s gone, and that his death could have been prevented.

Drug culture has skyrocketed over the last decade. Percocets, Xanax, molly…each one of these has been mentioned in a rappers song at least once. It’s definitely being pushed to a wide audience. Trust me, I understand the feelings of depression and anxiety. I understand wanting to do anything to make the pain that you’re feeling go away; many people do. Drugs isn’t the answer. It really isn’t. It’s a mask. It’s a distraction. You pop the pill, drink the lean, whatever you may do…and it makes you feel numb to what’s bothering you. At the end of my sophomore year of college I spent many a weekend drunk, making a fool of myself because I wanted to forget some of the things that have happened before. Wine was my drink of choice, but I would have drunk anything if it was there. Your bad memories fade, but only for a little while. You hit that high and you feel invincible, but only for a little while. Once that feeling fades, you’re craving for the high, and the cycle begins. It scared me because I wanted a drink, but soon I needed one. I would think about the weekend and how there’s some party out there that will serve me a close to unlimited amount of alcohol. I would think about this every time I would feel like I’m at a low point.

This becomes a crutch. A crutch keeps you up, but it still makes you that much slower. Most people when they break their leg they don’t stay on a crutch the rest of their life. When they’re ready, they try to move on their own. You can’t go your whole life like that. There are so many people who don’t think that life will get any better, and that Xanax bars and oxycondone is what will take the sorrows away. They will come back.

Check in on your friends. The quiet ones, the funny ones, the ones you haven’t spoken to in a while….see how their doing! They might expose their deepest darkest secrets to you then and there, but it let’s them know that someone is thinking about them. Being surrounded  by others and still feeling alone hurts. There are always ways to feel better, even if it feels like there aren’t. Talking to someone may help. Hell, if it gets to be that bad, go to a professional if you can. There is always a way out of whatever you are going through, but you have to start it. You have to want it. You have to try to want it. Drugs aren’t cool. They don’t do anything for you. They are a toxic friend that you can’t get rid of. There’s always a way out, always. I’m still trying to get out. It’s not something that happens over night. It takes time. But when you’re free, it’s going to be life changing. You just have to be patient. Anyone can do it. I pray for Mac Miller’s family and friends at this time. I pray for their strength and healing. God bless.

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