Opinion: Mental Health and what that means in the Black Community (at least in my family)

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“Personal Bit”

I remember when I was first diagnosed with depression and anxiety. It was 2010, a couple of months after my grandmother passed and a few months after the break up of me and my long-term girlfriend (at the time). I was in this state of confusion, almost “trance” like behavior and I couldn’t explain it then, but to look back and reflect on each nonchalant moment that I expressed in those days following those events, I asked myself a question… “Do I really need help or can I just walk it off?”

Before I decided to sign up for therapy services at my university’s health center, I Googled everything about mental health and even consulted family members before I made a decision. As soon as I formed my mouth to say, “therapist”, I literally was questioned:

“Why do you think you need it?” or “Is it really going to benefit you?”

Oh and I can’t forget the remarks:

“Oh going to therapy ain’t a black thing.” or “Go to church and pray.”

… And the list goes on and on and on.

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“When you know, you just know”

Ironically at a young age, I knew that I was “special” or “different”. I’m not sure how I knew, but in the way my mind would process things, I was always ahead of the curb. It doesn’t hurt the fact that I was raised by my elder grandmother… This was because my mom was doing a 10-year jail sentence at an over the first 10 years of my life.

As a child, I observed a lot, “people watching” if you will in the confinement of what I called home and my surrounding neighborhood. Mental illness and substance abuse run rampant everywhere: Adults willing to mask their problems by not communicating their true thoughts unless it was alcohol induced and not much of self-love.

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“Share your story”

We all think we have an answer for those who battle this invisible enemy, but trust and believe that it is indeed real and a consistent battle that literally goes on from day to day to day. Nothing is wrong with trying to find methods that will ease the burden of this daily fight, but if we choose the wrong method it could do more harm than good.

At the age of 28, I’m now just getting comfortable sharing my story and battle with mental health and I hope it helps someone to refocus their energy and thoughts to use more positive and productive methods to heal. Whether you use religion, spirituality or science, the ultimate goal is to achieve a peace of mind, which seems so difficult to do in the world such as this…

– Da’Von Yates

4 Replies to “Opinion: Mental Health and what that means in the Black Community (at least in my family)”

  1. Mental health struggles are something for which we individually have to find the coping methods that work best.
    Unfortunately, in communities of colour we still, often times, have to get past the stigmas we internalize from what we’ve been taught by our communities and sometimes our families before we can give ourselves permission to seek out the professional help we may need and deserve as much as anyone else.
    I’m glad to read that you gave yourself that permission in spite of some people raising doubts or questioning what you knew within yourself you needed.
    I hope you’re having more good days than bad now 💛

    Like

    1. Your comment meant a lot to me and I certainly appreciate your viewpoint. The one thing I’m starting to see in my community is the push for mental health. I thank you for the love and my days are getting better… I hope you are well also! 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This is very important and the times HAVE changed, the conversation needs to be had. We are loosing too many kings and queens. STRENGTH is mental as well. I touched on this on one of my recent posts. Remain strong my friend.

    Like

    1. Thank you very much for this reaffirmation! I’ll certainly check out your material on your page and let’s continue this dialogue because it’s much needed. You remain strong too my friend!

      Like

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