What's Your Issue, Cuz?
#WhatsYourIssueCuz is a series highlighting the true stories of Black people living with Mental Illnesses.
Seeking professional help is a brave step towards healing from trauma. It takes time, sincerity, and effort to accomplish healing and to balance the work that comes with it.
We last heard from our reader in part one of this series. Now, in part two, she shares her experience with making the brave decision to find a therapist and starting her journey toward healing. When asked about her desire to seek help, she shared, “I knew that in order for me to grow and heal as an individual that I needed to work with someone who could challenge me and help me see the things I didn’t see in myself.”
Silently struggling with mental illness, can lead to unhealthy coping mechanisms like overeating, over sleeping, and drug/alcohol abuse, just to name a few. Working with a therapist provides an avenue that allows one to get to the root of their issue while also developing healthy coping mechanisms to use throughout life.
This reader has several practices that she uses to self-care, healthily cope, and counteract toxic behavior she may exhibit. She shared, “I meditate and do deep breaths every morning. I have a mindfulness journal and I sage my spot once a month to get that negative funk out. I do what makes me happy like eat, sleep, hike, exercise, and travel.”
A common misconception about the healing process is that it is the same for all. However, those suffering from the same mental illnesses process their pain differently. This reader has discovered that the core of healing is self-care. She expressed, “I balance my energy by doing the things that bring good energy to me, they promote healthier outcomes within my journey.”
Can you imagine how different your life would be if you chose to engage in self-care activities that bring you joy?
The world is constantly inundating us with negativity that can have huge implications on our well being. It’s essential that we are more mindful of what we choose to consume. This reader’s self-care practices throughout her healing journey has led her to be more conscious of how the world around her affects her on a daily basis.
“With everything going on in the world and all the negativity, I have to find what’s positive and dwell on those things instead.” She stated.
With this in mind, she made changes within her life. One of those was changing what she listens to on a regular basis “The average American will spend up to 900 hours in their car each year. If you’re listening to something that has negative messages every time you enter the car, then your thoughts and behaviors will subconsciously fulfill these things,” she stated.
Personally, I realized how often I was subjecting myself to lyrics that countered everything I believed. I made it a point to rid myself of this music and replace it with something uplifting. This method inspired me to assess how I interact with social media. I also became aware of the impact that media has on my overall mental health.
Triggers (a stimulus such as a smell, sound, or sight that brings forth feelings of trauma) to our mental health can come in many unsuspecting packages; this is why it is essential to partake in self-care by cultivating a safe space to process. Media, including the radio, has so much influence on how we cope with mental health and our view of it. Due to various factors, Black people have a higher chance of suffering from mental health issues in our lifetime than our white counterparts. It is hard to accept this as a fact, but the lack of programming and funding within our community promotes the silent struggle, when it comes to Mental Illness.
Our reader believes it is time we start doing more to encourage a positive and healthy conversation about the mental health of black people. She said, “We didn’t start talking about suicide until the media gave so much attention to our Caucasian counterparts such as Kate Spade. There are beautiful black and brown babies committing suicide at such a young age every single day and there is little to no media coverage or conversation about it."
While we cannot control what the media does, we can start fighting for better awareness of mental health in a small and intentional way. This reader believes that addressing mental health in our homes, schools, and social circles will help foster safe environments for people to share and be honest about their struggle.
Though her abuse occurred as a little girl, the reader did not share what transpired until she was 24 years old. After spending years hiding this piece of herself from family and friends, she was relieved to be honest with her family by sharing that she did not have it all together and needed help.
“Telling my friends and family what happened began the conversation of healing and encouraged other people to share their story. I am very open about my struggle. We discuss the process of healing and I am brutally honest about.” She shared.
Our reader admitted that sharing her story was a turning point in her healing and served as an invitation to those in need of healing as well. Opening up to loved ones can be difficult for many people. Some often feel they have no one to turn to because it seems like no one will understand their struggle.
Alternatively, those with friends suffering from mental illnesses can sometime feel helpless because they do not know how to support someone in their time of crisis. In the wake of the most recent celebrity suicides, people have posted statuses empowering their friends to reach out if they need assistance, but it is not always that easy. Suffering from depression and other mental illnesses can fill people with such deep hopelessness that reaching out can seem like a difficult effort.
Our reader had great advice for people who want to be of assistance to loved ones navigating mental illnesses.“If you don’t have anything to say, just be. Be there. Be Open. Be consistent. Be loving. Be yourself. A mental health crisis can feel like being in the middle of a tornado. Everything and everybody is in a complete shit storm around you. It can be hard to hear, speak, or even see your way out. All you’re looking for is that one thing or person to ground you and this can be accomplished with just a mere notion of kindness and care.” She shared.
Silently struggling with mental health issues can feel like a never-ending battle at times. It’s essential to have people in your corner who understand what you’re going through and want the best for you. Having support systems gives you a safe place/person to process your feelings, and be vulnerable. Our reader noted, before starting her own mental health journey she thought she was solid as a rock and that asking help for help was a weakness. It was not until she shared her struggle that she found her support system, she now finds strength in asking for help, “You know the old adage strength in numbers? The same can be said for mental health, you gain more power and strength by having a strong and powerful support system to back you.”
Investing in your journey does not solve all your problems; however, it allows you to discover who you are in spite of your pain. This reader is not only doing her part to heal from her trauma, she also invites others to embark on their own journey towards healing. She is utilizing her relationship with her mental health to step into the person she is today.
“If it wasn’t for my mental health, I would still be acting through life. She (The reader’s mental health) made me see myself and save myself.” She shared.