All Articles Tagged "mental health"
My story all began with a box of Yogi Tea.
I had a moment last week as I do every once in a while when it feels like the weight of the world is on my shoulders. I found myself reaching a low point recently that stemmed from thoughts of not being where I wanted to in different aspects of my life, such as my weight, my career, and my love life. The more I thought about it, the lower I sunk until I brewed myself a cup of Yogi brand green tea and the message on the bag read, “Happiness comes with contentment.” I thought to myself, Easier said than done…
I was left asking myself, “How could I find this happiness? How do I find contentment when I’m feeling so uncomfortable with the way things are going?” So I reached out to some friends and spoke to them about how I was feeling, and it took each of them pointing out my blessings for me to recognize that I have a lot to celebrate. Life happens, and small milestones tend to get lost in the fray as we wait and work for those big ones, the celebratory moments that seem so far away. We end up suffering from bouts of anxiety, stress, and depression. But what I took from my empowerment powwow with friends is that it’s important to celebrate ourselves no matter how small our accomplishments and that all begins with being mindful and knowing how.
You never really need an excuse to pop open a bottle of wine and toast to a good day in the comfort of your home, but it’s even more fun when you call up your girls and toast at happy hour. The more you acknowledge and reward yourself for all of your successes, including the minute ones, the MORE success you obtain based on the drive you incur to do more and celebrate even more. And more importantly, the better you will feel. It can be something as small as you losing an inch after starting a new diet plan. You may not be at your goal weight, but you’re one inch towards that goal. You might have a job offer waiting for you that requires you to be in a period of standstill for a bit, but you still have a job. Sometimes you just want life to pick up and zoom forward to the end of the tunnel to the triumphant final results, but in doing so, we miss the journey that got us there.
Take time for yourself each day and week to reflect on all of the little things. The small moments. Write them down in a journal. Write them on strips of paper and store them in a jar or box so that you can read them whenever you’re having a dark moment. Celebrating and rewarding yourself in any given moment allows you to experience self-fulfillment. It encourages the attitude that you don’t have to sit and wait for big things to happen because you can make the most of the blessings laid out for you in the present.
Life is about the small steps that contribute to the bigger picture and when we spend time focusing on what isn’t and what we wish to have and that which we don’t have, we create opportunities for negative energy to slip in and take control of our thoughts. So celebrate by toasting yourself. Celebrate by treating yourself. But most of all, celebrate by giving yourself a break.
Suicide is the third leading cause of death among youth between 10 and 19 years of age and the number is increasing. Although it is not always a comfortable topic, it is essential to know the warning signs and to know the right ways to react if you notice them. Parents, friends, teachers, and sometimes even strangers can help play a part when prevention and helping others is a priority in the community.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics these are the reasons the youth suicide rate has increased and some signs to look for:
Why has the youth suicide rate gone so high in recent years?
- It’s easier to get the tools for suicide (Boys often use firearms to kill themselves; girls usually use pills);
- The pressures of modern life are greater;
- Competition for good grades and college admission is stiff; and
- There’s more violence in the newspapers and on television.
Lack of parental interest may be another problem. Many children grow up in divorced households; for others, both of their parents work and their families spend limited time together. According to one study 90 percent of suicidal teen-agers believed their families did not understand them. (However, this is such a common teen-age complaint that other factors are playing a role, too.) Young people also reported that when they tried to tell their parents about their feelings of unhappiness or failure, their mother and father denied or ignored their point of view.
If your teenager has been depressed, you should look closely for suicide signs that he or she might be displaying:
- Has his personality changed dramatically?
- Is he having trouble with a girlfriend (or, for girls, with a boyfriend)? Or is he having trouble getting along with other friends or with parents? Has he withdrawn from people he used to feel close to?
- Is the quality of his schoolwork going down? Has he failed to live up to his own or someone else’s standards (when it comes to school grades, for example)?
- Does he always seem bored, and is he having trouble concentrating?
- Is he acting like a rebel in an unexplained and severe way?
- Is she pregnant and finding it hard to cope with this major life change?
- Has he run away from home?
- Is your teenager abusing drugs and/or alcohol?
- Is she complaining of headaches, stomachaches, etc., that may or may not be real?
- Have his eating or sleeping habits changed?
- Has his or her appearance changed for the worse?
- Is he giving away some of his most prized possessions?
- Is he writing notes or poems about death?
- Does he talk about suicide, even jokingly? Has he said things such as, “That’s the last straw,” “I can’t take it anymore,” or “Nobody cares about me?” (Threatening to kill oneself precedes four out of five suicidal deaths.)
- Has he tried to commit suicide before?
Yesterday, we, along with several other media outlets, wrote about the alleged cheating scandal between R&B singer Kehlani, fellow artist PartyNextDoor and NBA basketball player Kyrie Irving. What was once juicy and sensational, took a very real, very nasty turn as people used what they thought the story was, to attack Kehlani and her character.
When I wrote about the whole thing yesterday, I specifically mentioned the fact that I hoped she had positive, uplifting people around her. While people may try to make light of it, there is something so soul crushing about being berated and belittled by people who never have and likely never will meet you.
Unfortunately, yesterday all of the backlash got to her. And she posted an image on Instagram explaining how she tried to take her own life.
Later, she posted another image of the man she creates for saving her.
And then, lastly she offered even more of an explanation about what happened in her relationship with both Kyrie and PartyNextDoor.
A photo posted by The Shade Room (@theshaderoominc) on
You would think that Kehlani opening up about her feelings regarding the situation might elicit some type of sympathy. For some it has but there are still those who believe this is a way to get attention or to make people feel sorry for her, in light of what they perceived as mistakes. Trolls gonna troll. And I hope Kehlani really does distance herself from social media as she attempts to heal.
In the meantime, there have been well-wishes too. From the likes of Karrine Steffans, (Who’s currently going through her own drama.), to Erica Campbell.
See what they had to say below.
All of this b/c MAYBE she fucked whoever she wanted? Slut shaming drives women to suicide often. Ya'll gotta stop. pic.twitter.com/k34r14I6m0
— Mrs. Karrine Short (@karrineandco) March 29, 2016
I don’t usually do this. I don’t even know this pretty girl or the details of her situation but I saw her post about her suicide attempt. @kehlani yes God saved your life for a reason sweet heart! I’m praying God surround you with his love and his peace. Everything is gonna be alright cause when you search for God you will find him! You Are Loved! Sending Love & Blessings to you #kehlani 🙏🏽🙏🏽🙏🏽❤️❤️❤️
We’re praying for Kehlani and wishing her the best.
What To Do When A Co-Worker Spirals Out Of Control: An Interview With Katt Williams’ Former Personal Assistant
It’s no secret that Katt Williams is grabbing news headlines these day for bizarre incidents. One is more likely to see news about Williams’ arrests more than his comedy routine and, according to his former personal assistant, the incidents “are getting stranger.”
“I was in court many a time with Katt,” said Brooks Jackson Colyar, who worked as Katt’s personal assistant from fall of 2012 to February 2015. “But from what I have been hearing lately the situations are strange… I am really worried about him. I don’t think the people around him are taking care of him like he deserves to be taken care of.”
Like Colyar, many don’t know what to do when someone they work with is seemingly spinning out of control. According to Linda F. Williams, COO and founder of Whose Apple Dynamic Coaching Services, “There are often progressive signs leading up to a psychotic episode. The signs can be subtle. Yet, in hindsight they become a trail of breadcrumbs leading straight to the event. Depending on the core problem, these can be dangerous. At the time that someone ‘loses it’ is not the time for untrained individuals to intervene.”
Even if you feel you know your co-worker well, you can never predict how that person will handle stress or a personal crisis. Colyar is finding that out as she searches for answers about Katt’s current behavior. Colyar, who joined Katt’s team after her marriage to comedian Michael Colyar suddenly fell apart, handled an array of things for Williams–and she not only worked out of his house, she lived there.
“This isn’t the person I got to know so well. I would never say anything against Williams–he saved my life after my divorce by giving me a job and support. So the things in the news are really worrying me. I have never really known Katt to use drugs–I lived with him. And I have had my own past experience with drugs and my ex used drugs, so I know what drug use looks like and I didn’t see any of that in Katt’s house or from Katt. Even at one point he was apparently diagnosed as being bipolar, and even then he did not rely on medication. He worked out, avoided stress, and ate right,” she said. “And since I lived and worked out of his home, I got to see the other side of Katt. But it is true that if Katt feels he’s been disrespected, well then that’s when a different Katt surfaces. But people are always trying to provoke him for monetary gains.”
Colyar, who is now producing her own female comedy tour of U.S. military bases, said her time working with Katt was “fantastic” and reconciling her experience with what’s she’s been reading now about the comedian is almost impossible. While Colyar is no longer working with Katt and is judging the current situation from the outside looking in, if you are working with someone who appears to be suffering a mental or emotional breakdown there are some things you can do.
“When a boss or co-worker is spiraling out of control, the first step is to help them get out of the spiral. Ask them to go on a walk with you,” advised stress reduction expert and coach Melissa Heisler, author of From Type A to Type Me: How to Stop ‘Doing’ Life and Start Living It. “When we are in a stressful situation, our fight-or-flight limbic brain takes over. Unfortunately this is the part of the brain which runs on autopilot, resulting in cloudy thinking when it is engaged. By walking away from the situation, disengaging from it, we can deactivate our limbic brain. In doing so, we re-engage our conscious thinking mind, giving us the mental power to solve the stressful situation.”
In offering assistance, it’s important that you stay in control, Williams said. “Keep a calm demeanor and even-toned voice with the individual. The temptation will be to respond with commensurate emotion. Don’t do it. Calmly state that you wish to continue the discussion at a later time and remove yourself from the threat.”
If the situation is too tense for you to deal with, leave. Being around someone who is acting out of character can become dangerous. “Not all ‘losing it’ events are due to mental disorders. Yet, you are not likely to know whether it is or not,” Williams added. “Remove yourself as quickly and safely as possible from the situation and immediately report it to a person in authority. If you feel threatened report it. Do not second guess it. The authorities will sort it out. If you feel uncertain about reporting such behaviors, just remember the life that might be saved in the long run.”
Heisler echoed that advice, saying “If those steps fail, protect yourself by walking away. If the situation is escalating and the other person has no intention of calming down, walk away. Emotional energy is contagious. Being around someone out of control can negatively affect your own mood and clarity. Remove yourself from a toxic situation.”
You also want to be sure you discuss and report the situation or your concerns with HR. “Immediately report it to the appropriate individuals — his or her supervisor, personnel, whomever your internal protocol identify as the appropriate contact. Follow up any verbally reported incidents in writing . Because many workplaces have a no-tolerance rule against workplace violence, these incidents must be reported.”
Added Williams, “These are touchy situations. When a person is irrational, even the kindest gesture can result in a bad outcome. The best thing you can do to help that individual is to report the incident to the appropriate supervisory authorities. De-escalation of an event takes training and skill. Once the blowup occurs, it is best to safely remove yourself from the situation and keep very calm in doing so. Depending on the root of it, professional intervention might be required.”
According to Colyar, it is her concern that has compelled her to speak out when it comes to Katt. “I am a very private person and I would never want to say anything to upset Katt because he was so good to me. He saved my life! I want to keep my friendship with him intact. But I am hoping that by me talking out someone around him will step up and start taking control of the situation and make sure he is sleeping and being cared for.” If she could talk to Katt directly, Colyar said “I [would] tell him whatever he needs, I am here. I love and care for him. I will always be here for him when he needs. Katt is worth saving, and I just hope this happens.”
If you’ve followed any of the pieces written for this “Road to the Altar” column, you already know that while a wedding day is supposed to be one of the happiest days of your life, the time leading up to that day is a headache. Planning ain’t for everybody. It can be a seemingly nonstop headache filled with disagreements over everything from guest count to color choices. My wedding planning situation has been like that, and I think it got so bad for my stress levels as of late that something in my head snapped.
And I had a panic attack.
It happened late last month. I’m talking a full-blown panic attack where I couldn’t catch my breath in between sobbing and thoughts of just jumping out of a window. But since I live on the second floor of a three-story walk-up, I probably would have just twisted an ankle and then looked all kinds of foolish in my sleep dress sprawled out in the middle of my quiet Brooklyn street at the crack of dawn.
Other things had also been stressing me out, leading to my “moment.” Work stuff, issues with friends, money worries, my concerns about keeping my weight down, and apartment woes, but the wedding was the base of it. And certain opinions about said wedding had me worried that I was preparing for a marriage where people’s opinions would always be in the loop. That made me very uncomfortable. And that got my mind racing. That on top of the stress of answering questions about if certain patterns were okay, how catering was going to be set up, if my father and my fiancé’s mom could have extra seats for friends, trying to come up with deposit money, and making the time to do research just became a bit too much.
So I went home for a week. I went back to Chicago, holed up in my teenage bedroom with its bright blue walls, and just slept and ate. Each day had no set plan. I was tired of planning things.
“You want to use the car? Are you going anywhere today?” my mom would ask.
“Nope, I’m probably going to call it a night,” I would say as I prepared to go to sleep at 10 p.m. after being in the house all day with the ‘rents.
Many of us take days off of work to explore the world and do things for others, but I just needed that week to explore my mind and do a little something for myself. I just needed to be around people who would listen when I wanted to open up about my stress, and if nothing else, bring me food. Lots and lots of delicious food.
When I wasn’t eating, sleeping, or watching TV with a paper towel covered in peanuts and raisins next to me (I gave up candy and sweets for Lent, so that’s been my alternative), I was reading my Bible. I was looking to find my way back to a sense of peace, a sense of joy, and maybe some happiness, which I told you not too long before my “moment” I had very little of. I restored myself by being back at home with my parents, not letting anyone else know I was in town (lest they ask me to meet up–which would be planning for something all over again), and focusing on my mental health. I had been so busy ripping and running for a wedding I didn’t even want that much anymore, that I let it take toll on my mind.
A few weeks back in NYC and I do feel much better. I struggle sometimes when I have to have “What are we gonna do about ____?” wedding conversations with my fiance, but I’ve learned to find healthy ways to deal with my stress. Including telling him that “We’ll figure it out later” before changing the topic of conversation.
I also only get to wedding planning and doing research when I absolutely feel up to it. And when I feel myself getting overwhelmed in general, I zone out and try to find clarity through my mom, who still sends messages to check in (“Hang in there!!”), and through the Word. By taking things slow and not overextending myself, I’ve actually managed to get a lot more accomplished for the wedding. Including finding and putting down the deposit for a church, finding a makeup artist, finding a new caterer, a photographer, and checking out decor ideas for inspiration with my mom and planner. I’ve also found myself getting more excited about the wedding. Whoever thought that would happen?!
But more than anything, I’m realizing more and more what matters in the grand scheme of things. My relationships–with the Man upstairs, with my future husband, with my loved ones, and with myself. And I’m hoping to do a better job of being more kind to all four–especially the latter.
If you’ve been visiting MadameNoire this week, you may have noticed that this isn’t the first time we’ve talked about complaining. On Monday, we published a piece about how to stop complaining and today I’m here to tell you why. The church folks in the house know that the Bible says “Life and death lies in the power of your tongue.” And that’s the truth, perhaps more literally than we may have believed.
A new article talks about the ways in which complaining can be quite detrimental to both your mind and body. Steven Parton, a student of human nature, explained that complaining is not only bad for your mood, it’s bad for your brain and health, he takes it so far as to say that complaining can literally kill you. And while some might be ready and willing to dismiss Parton because he’s not a scientist, his logic and reasoning are pretty sound.
First he talks about how a course in college changed his thinking and brought him out of a melancholic funk. Essentially, he learned that complaining becomes a pattern. There are synapses, the connection of two nerve cells that fire messages across the brain. And these synapses develop patterns of electrical signals. But the brain is set up in such a way to increase the fluidity of thought over time. So as Parton explains it:
“Every time this electrical charge is triggered, the synapses grow closer together in order to decrease the distance the electrical charge has to cross…. The brain is rewiring its own circuitry, physically changing itself, to make it easier and more likely that the proper synapses will share the chemical link and thus spark together–in essence, making it easier for the thought to trigger.”
Meaning that if you are consistently negative, or often find yourself complaining you are rewiring your brain with every single thought. Thinking negative thoughts, makes it physiologically easier to think more negative thoughts. Sadly, it also allows those negative thoughts to come up at seemingly unrelated times.
Luckily, in the same way you can build patterns of negative thoughts, you can build patterns of positive ones as well.
And while you’re working on improving your mental state, be careful to surround yourself with people who are doing the same.
Parton explains: “When we see someone experiencing an emotion (be it anger, sadness, happiness, etc), our brain ‘tries out’ that same emotion to imagine what the other person is going through. And it does this by attempting to fire the same synapses in your own brain so that you can attempt to relate to the emotion you’re observing. This is basically empathy. It is how we get the mob mentality…. It is our shared bliss at music festivals,” Parton writes. “But it is also your night at the bar with your friends who love love love to constantly bitch.”
Guard your eyes, ears and heart because this is how all that negativity can affect your health. All this firing of negative emotions, anger, sadness and stress can weaken your immune system, raise your blood pressure, cause weight gain, increase your risk of heart disease, obesity and diabetes.
Stress is terrible for your body. It releases cortisol into the system and can interfere with learning, memory, bone function and much more.
It’s not a game ladies and gentlemen. Preserving and prioritizing mental health is so important because it has the ability to affect other areas of our lives. And not just ourselves, the people around us as well.
By Kasey Woods
I’m not in control of my happiness. That is the theory that I accepted for a very long time.
It appeared that whenever things were going too well, for too long, some unknown force would ultimately descend upon me and effortlessly snatch away any feelings of well-being I was experiencing. I attributed this abduction of my happiness to the fact that I had merely exceeded my “happiness quota.” Essentially, the universe just wasn’t going to let me get too happy. I deduced that I had a happiness limit and if I came too close to that limit, or God forbid exceeded it, the universe would be forced to cut me down to size, humble me and remind me who was in charge.
Believe me, I had very good reasons to believe this far-fetched theory. One example of an swift and forceful response to an overabundance of happiness happened in March of 2012. During the first few months of 2012, things had been going very well for me: my career was zooming forward at the speed of light, I was six months pregnant and excited to meet my new bundle of joy, and my personal relationships were flourishing. Things were going really well. But as usual, this feeling of “well-being” would prove to be short-lived.
I remember commenting to a friend that I sensed I was getting too close to my “happiness quota.” “You know, things can’t be too good for too long,” I told her. She scoffed at me and replied that I was just being paranoid, (I mean who really believes that their happiness is rationed out by some mythical energy source that rules the universe? … Me, that’s who.)
Within a week of that ominous conversation, the biggest life-changing incident that has ever happened in my life took place. I accidentally ran over my then two-year-old daughter with the family car and was subsequently run over myself after throwing my six month pregnant body under the vehicle in an effort to save her.
This horrific accident not only put me well below my perceived quota, it left a far greater impact on my life. Happiness seemed to eluded me. Though my daughter made a complete recovery (after days in the ICU and numerous fractures and bruises) and my unborn child was born beautiful and healthy as well, that incident implanted doubt and fear as my new constant companions. My daughter’s life was almost lost due to my negligence and my psyche responded with almost OCD like tendencies. I would check, recheck, and check again to make sure that my children were present and accounted for when in the car, even if I understood that I had taken all the appropriate safety precautions a mere seconds earlier. Anytime I was away from them I was preoccupied with wondering if they were OK. I began to have frequent and brutal panic attacks that came and went as they pleased.
Eventually, with therapy and a great life coach, I was able to come out of that space. Through intense counseling I have learned that I was suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, a common reaction to a situation as awful as what I had experienced. That situation also “turned up” my current bipolar disorder symptoms, which at the time were undiagnosed. The effects of trauma on your mental health are well documented and something that today I know a great deal about.
Through it all, the greatest lesson that I learned was that I deserved to be happy; that my happiness doesn’t have a cap. After the hard work and dedication to my mental health that I had to commit to, I finally understood that there’s work necessary sometimes to be happy and content. No, it wasn’t easy pulling myself out of that slump but if I allowed myself to stay in that space I would certainly still be there now. Once I accepted that there was no theoretical force keeping my joy at bay, it was easier to also accept that the only thing keeping me from being happy was me.
Ish Happens!! It’s how you react to these occurrences that makes the difference. I now recognize that the lows that regularly came soon after my highs were in part due to an undiagnosed bipolar disorder, and that the chronic sadness that always triumphed over spurts of happiness was in fact depression.
Sometimes life has a way of making us believe that everything is working against us. We believe that we are not worthy of the good things that life has to offer. For years I truly believed that there was a finite limit to my happiness. Today I live by the motto: no one can want something for you more than you want it for yourself. With this in mind I have thrown away the notion of a happiness quota. I want limitless happiness. I want to end the fear that has historically preempted the happy moments in my life, and I now command my journey to be one of unbounded joy and optimism. I accept my role in achieving such a feat and I revel in the notion of grasping happiness and not letting go. I implore you to do the same.
Visit the author’s Facebook Fan Page for more information and resources: Facebook.com/MyManicMemoirs
When the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences named Viola Davis the winner of the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series, they unleashed a dragon — and we’re so happy we did. Ever since the How To Get Away With Murder star spoke about the lack of opportunities for Black women in entertainment openly during the Primetime Emmy Awards, she hasn’t missed an opportunity to expose the different ways in which Black women are not only chosen for roles, but treated once they have them, particularly when it comes to our beauty. And the fact that Davis talking about this issue is groundbreaking news, speaks to what she calls the “strong Black woman disease” and the fact that “We are not given permission to address the things that hurt us,” as she told The Cut in a recent interview on wellness.
Thankfully, Davis is one willing to go against the grain, telling the mag when it comes to her on- and off-camera persona,” You cannot be allowed into my life if the only thing that I am asked to do is play a filtered-down version of a human being.” Check out what I call her recipe for wellness in these snippets from her interview below:
Her biggest wellness struggle
Anxiety. I struggle with relaxing and being completely in the moment. I have a huge problem with that one.
How she copes with her anxiety
At one point my hair fell out. I mean, like this whole side of my hair fell out and then I had a big patch on top of my head. It fell out because of stress and alopecia areata. Try and relieve yourself of that [stress]. You sleep better. There are times when I can’t sleep, and during those times, it decreases the quality of my life. I usually can’t sleep because of anxiety. Just being anxious for tomorrow, anxious about my schedule, anxious about my daughter, and just anxious in general.
On Hollywood struggling with her beauty
It’s very difficult. People just don’t understand our hair because they’re not with us on a day-to-day basis, it’s almost as if they need to be educated. I can’t tell you how many shows I’ve done where I’ve reluctantly said, “Okay, that’s not going to work on my hair, I’m telling you that we’re going to have to do this over again.” They’ll be offended because you’re trying to say that you’re different from us. I am different, but I’m not saying that in a way that’s offensive, I actually am very different from you with my hair.
Lighting is a big issue, too. It changes depending on how dark or light you are. That can be frustrating just on a physical and on a mental level because you’re constantly having to explain yourself. Also it’s a huge issue because sometimes it’s not even about that. There’s sometimes very little exploration into the specificity of the character. You’ll see a Caucasian woman walking into a scene with mussed-up hair, after coming out of the shower with no makeup and it’s not a big deal. But there’s a feeling like we’re not even allowed to do that. There are just so many restrictions.
On cultivating mental health and strength
One of the things that happens with narratives with Black people is that the image and the message becomes more important than the truth and the artistry. That carries on in our lives. We are not given permission to address the things that hurt us. We cover it up with great weaves and talking about all of our accomplishments and if we had something that happened in the past, we overcame it.
It’s that strong Black woman disease and I would like to redefine strength as saying that there are times when we are afraid, there are times when we feel vulnerable, there are times that you can hurt us, and that in and of itself is very powerful. In the future one of the things I encourage Pete Norwalk to do with Annalise in How to Get Away With Murder is to show that as strong as she can be and how vulnerable she can be, I really love when you see her pain. I see that in my mother, in myself, my sisters, and nobody ever talks about it. There’s a shroud of silence, and I wonder where they think all of that pains goes.
On redefining beauty
Just like we have to redefine strength, we have to redefine beauty. It’s not even about beautiful, it’s about being who you are. It’s about being honest. It’s about stepping into This is how I am in private, this is how I look, this is how I act, this is my mess, this is my strength, this is my beauty, this is my intelligence, and then putting it out there that this is who I am. You cannot be allowed into my life if the only thing that I am asked to do is play a filtered-down version of a human being. A filtered-down version is someone who has spent two hours in a damn makeup chair to play someone who’s getting out of bed in the morning.
You can’t keep complaining about not seeing varied roles for Black women if you are not the change you want to see. I’m sorry, it’s like if I’m in the bathtub, then I’m going to be in it with no lashes and with my wig off. If you’re watching, you have to come into my world. But I’m not going to make it comfortable for you to come into my world. That’s my job as an artist. I feel it’s very liberating for Black women. Domestic violence is one of the No. 1 killers of Black women. We suffer from huge anxiety issues. I think it’s because we have to be so strong all the time. We carry it all on our backs. All women do. I think we need to be allowed to say that sometimes we get tired.
Check out the rest of her interview on The Cut. What was your takeaway?
As much as we say we need to eliminate the stigma of mental health in the Black community, many of us are still nowhere near as comfortable talking about our struggles with depression, thoughts of suicide, and other issues as Imade Nibokun. The North Carolina writer and activist is the creator of the blog, Depressed While Black in which “shares mental health stories from an African-American lens” and she’s also speaking out about her struggle on camera.
In light of Black Lives Matter activist MarShawn M. McCarrel’s suicide, Nibokun spoke out on the relationship between social justice and mental health in this video for mental health non-profit Project UROK, which is dedicated to de-stigmatizing mental illness, combating isolation, and reducing teen suicide. In the video, Nibokun also speaks candidly about her own experiences with depression, the stigma of mental illness in the black community, and how she got help:
“Now I recognize that I am worth mental health treatment, and it took a while to understand that, because growing up, I thought depression was a white person disease… that depression is just not something we do as Black people.”
But depression is in fact something we do as Black people and we need more individuals like Nibokun to come forward and remind us of that. Check out her touching video above.
“You have the same amount of time in a day as Beyoncé.”
I heard someone say this in one of the many new-age motivational speeches I ran across on YouTube. I laughed at first, thinking just how cliché it sounded. Then I got a bit offended as I thought about how inconsiderate the speaker was. Beyoncé has help I thought to myself. You know, nannies, assistants, and other paid staff. I just have me.
I was beyond stressed. I was overworked and highly underpaid as I worked a corporate job by day and grinded in between hours and at night to establish my own business. To add another item to an already full plate, I was also a grad student at the time. Not one to properly manage stress, you can only imagine what my mental and physical health was like. I was a mess, and I knew something had to be done before I came all the way undone.
Psychology Today explains stress as “simply a reaction to a stimulus that disturbs our physical or mental equilibrium.” Basically, stress is something that can shake us up mentally or physically. But here’s a startling piece of information: All stress is not bad. In fact, acute stress can be good for you. Its short-term effects can get you excited about something; but when it lingers for too long, it can be a problem. Chronic stress, the feelings we have of constantly feeling swamped and overworked for long periods of time, isn’t good. But it didn’t take a carefully-crafted article by a Psychology Today writer to let me know that this type of stress could wreak havoc on my life. My failing mental and physical health had already given me the heads up. To add insult to injury, I was doing so much that not much was really getting done. This, of course, stressed me out even more.
Stress had made me even more impatient than I already was, something I’d been working on for so long. Already an individual with a low tolerance level, my inability to cope with stress had made my tolerance level drop from 1 to 0. My memory was bad because I had too many things cluttered up in my brain at one time, vying for attention.
So how did I go from constant feelings of stress and anxiety to a somewhat more productive life? While this might sound like a ‘duh’ revelation, I finally realized that stress was a choice. And though I didn’t want to be stressed, my actions suggested otherwise. I then had to decide that I no longer wished to be in a constant state of anxiety, also known as crazy, depending on you who asked about my unnerving behavior.
After making the decision that I would cope with stress better than I had been, I then needed to take inventory. In my planner full of obligations and notes, I used a sheet to begin tracking my stress habits. I had to decide what tasks I could eliminate from my load. I even had to remove the people who were a waste of my time and interfering with things that I valued more. Then I had to track my time. What was I doing with these 24 hours of the day that both Queen Bey and I had?
Eliminating projects wasn’t easy because each of them were very important to me. What I finally decided to do was simply put some on hold. I didn’t begin a project without finishing another. For someone who was creatively all over the place, this was extremely difficult. All of my projects were “my babies” and it was hard to temporarily part ways with them; but for the sake of my sanity, it had to be done.
After doing all of this and learning to say no to new projects or obligations that I simply didn’t have time for, I soon became a lot more productive. Things were getting done, and my stress levels were down. I didn’t walk around in a constant bad mood. I was actually able to enjoy the process of working, instead of waiting for some magical outcome to make me happy. I also opted out of Team No Sleep. I needed sleep, for both my physical and mental well-being. While I still don’t get nearly as much as I should, I am doing better; and I always listen to my body when it tells me it needs some TLC. When I feel myself trying to tackle more than I can really handle, I remind myself that it is no fun living a life where I always feel behind. Move stress out of the way and make way for peace of mind.