Mental Health in the Black Community-Women

 

We are strong, we are the backbone, we are needed by everyone. These are great traits, but they are often overwhelming and impossible. As black women, we struggle to care for ourselves  because we but everyone else first. It is an innate; we are the oil that keeps the car running, and the energy that keeps the dimness away. Yet, we are dim inside. When our childrens’ fathers are imprisoned, dead, or just plain dead-beat, we strap on our boots, get it done-without much complaint. Until there is that time when you are running bathe water, and start crying. Or even when your kid asks you a simple question, and you snap. You don’t know what you don’t know. Anyone every asked you “what’s wrong” and you don’t know, or simply say “nothing,” but instantly fill our eyes with tears? We have everything scheduled for our kids- from sunrise to sunset. We even know the pattern of their heartbeats, but can’t recognize our own changes. It is hard to recognize or put a name to what you don’t know. Ever experienced the following:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Trouble getting out of bad, or the unwillingness to get out of bed.
  • Loss of joy, or feelings of worthlessness, hopeless, discouraged
  • Withdrawn, fatigue, weight loss/gain

If you have experienced these, there’s a pretty good chance that you have suffered from depression at one point, or currently. Depression is more prevalent in women than men. Depression affects over 15 million people per year, according to aada.org. I would challenge this number, because of those that aren’t documented-like the black community.

 In the black community, we like to use the term “crazy” to describe mental illness. Yet, we are losing people every day to suicide, which is often a result of depression. We have this stigma, and sense of pride, that therapy is for white people, or we can’t tell anyone our business. By not listening to our bodies and our spirit, we are increasing the number of unstable homes and negatively affecting our children, in addition to ourselves. Black women, we can’t do it all. Please don’t try to do it all; you are enough. Take care of yourself so you can be there for your children. Don’t suffer in silence; there are so many resources available. If you are not ready to try therapy, maybe try the following:

  1.  Talk to a friend or family member-you are not alone.
  2. Journaling: this is a great way to express yourself and better understand your moods.
  3. Mindfulness: Practicing mindfulness is a great healing component that helps calm the body and soothing the mind.
  4. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline- if you feel that you are at a place where you don’t know where to turn and/ or none of the above work, call 1-800-273-8255. This is free and confidential, and available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

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