Within our African American community we frequently disregard the idea of receiving mental help. We also, discharge the notion that we may in-fact have a mental illness. I have come to believe that is caused from our family, communities, our societal projections concerning mental health. Yesterday, I had departed from a resource clinic and stopped to read the suicide hotline sign. I was unsure why I felt compelled to stop and read it; but I did. Without thinking anything about it, I continued to walk home. As I was walking home, a car pulled up next me; It was an African American woman in tears. I had walked to her cautiously and she said: “ I seen you looking at the hotline number for suicide, can you please provide that to me?” Without hesitation I gave it to her and also recommended a therapist I personally go to and some resources that could possibly help. She put her truck in park, and we began discussing life’s troubles and stressor’s of life. I offered my advise to her about receiving therapy. Let’s be honest shall we? If you’re black in America and have struggled with any form of trauma you need to be in therapy. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard, “ Church will heal me,” etc. Which to some extent I believe that spirituality can be vital in ones progress to living a whole and complete life. However, Spirituality may not address mood and personality disorders. Your pastor is not qualified to heal your mental issues. I say that with much do respect.
Black people must get beyond the negative stigma surrounding mental illness if we expect to heal individually, collectively. How many times do we observe someone in our family that has mental illness and we don’t address it. Perhaps someone we know, or have encountered. We clearly see the mental illness and we choose to become predators to them. We know they’re weak and we begin to use, abuse and break them down because we’ve never been taught to bring another person up. Now I cannot sit here and lie and say that I am not guilty of this. Hell, I have hurt, abused, lied and manipulated folks because of my own mental issues in the past.
So how do we move forward? We must be willing to do ‘the work’ individually. Once we begin to do the work individually, we then go on to helping other people. It’s like love, once we learn the language of love we then speak it fluently and can teach others to speak. If all we know is abuse and dysfunction, well then that is the primary language we begin to speak. I will say that, we must release our fears associated to mental illness. We must be willing to drop the judgment, ; the need to criticize people for their mental illnesses. We must be willing to educate and evolve our understanding on mental illness. We must mus be willing to see to it that the people we love are getting the proper mental help needed to heal and function in our present society.
What is the work? The work is actively participating in our own mental, emotional and spirtual evolution. Doing the work means that we’re willing to go to depths of our soul, investigating our thoughts, observing and healing our pain. Doing the work means we’re willing to go beyond pain management and into the heart of healing. More times than not, we as human beings want the feel good affirmations, yoga practices but we cannot fathom going deeper within. Many of us cannot fathom really looking at our trauma, emotional hangs up, or understanding the darkness of our soul and yet want to live a life full of abundance. This realization is the miracle for life, this understanding is what allows us to evolve past our current limitations. Let’s begin taking our self love, love for our family and communities become more important than celebrity gossip.