All Articles Tagged "mental health"

What It’s Really Like To Be A Black Woman Suffering With Depression

December 19th, 2014 - By Charing Ball
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You can’t always look at a person and tell they’re depressed, just ask Lissa Alicia. The 23-year old writer and PR specialist from Philadelphia said most people she meets and interacts with at the various social functions she attends for business would probably describe her as happy; only her closest friends know that she suffers from the often debilitating disease known as depression.

“I’m really good at not showing my feelings,” Alicia said about the mask she wears in public. “Me and my mom didn’t have the closest relationship. And I was able to try to pretend that I was fine and okay. I don’t like people to know how I feel all the time. I feel like it makes me feel weak. And I really don’t want to be perceived as weak.”

In the beginning stage of her career as a PR rep and journalist, Alicia believes her image is very important to her success. As such, her work often means presenting a face to the world which may not necessarily reflect how she feels on the inside. She calls it “professional happy.” And it’s the societal adherence to this cultural normal, she said, which can make us feel like we have no choice but to suffer in silence, perhaps like Titi Branch, co-founder of Miss Jessie’s hair care products, who took her own life earlier this month. Or even legendary funny man Robin Williams.

“There is lots of pressure to maintain an identity when there is so much other stuff happening inside of you,” Alicia said.

Although not officially diagnosed with clinical depression, Alicia said she first became aware that there was a name and label for what she was feeling after suffering a breakdown in high school. As a teen she had always felt frustrated, hopeless and like an outcast; however it was a terrible breakup with a boyfriend that left Alicia feeling abandoned by even her closest friends. It was a counselor who told her that she was extremely depressed and needed counseling.

Thankfully, she survived that particular incident. And though right now Alicia maintains that she’s emotionally fine, depression comes in horrible waves and when she’s in thick of it, she feels extremely helpless, alone and unimportant. Alicia likened being in a depressive state to an internal war where one side of your mind is telling you that you are worthless, while the other side is telling you that you must fight it. At times suicidal thoughts run rampant and Alicia admitted she has felt as though it would be better if she didn’t exist.

“When it’s really overwhelming. When it’s really too much, I don’t have the best techniques. I usually practice self-harm (scratching the back of her hand) or I withdraw from everyone,” she confessed. “But its not very often that it gets overwhelming. Like I said, it usually comes in cycles but I try to remind myself that it will get better.”

Despite how hard it can get for her, Alicia said she’s not interested in any type of professional therapy. “I’m not into Western medication and I just don’t feel like Western means of fixing things always work.”

Rosalyn Pitts, a child psychologist with a small private practice in Philadelphia and years of experiencing working with patients diagnosed with depression, said resistance to therapy and other supportive services within the Black community is not uncommon. In fact, while 1 in 10 people report clinical depression, it’s hard to pinpoint an actual percentage of those suffering in the Black community because we’re the least likely to report our mental health needs to medical professionals.

Pitts attributed four main reasons for this reluctance: first, there’s the stigma that surrounds mental health illnesses in general. Second is our reliance on the church and religious community, which has many believing they can pray the blues away. Third, the cost of therapy can be expensive if you don’t have insurance or have access to free counseling services. And lastly is the deeply ingrained mistrust of the medical community among African Americans thanks in part to the long history of unethical medical testing on Black people.

This resistance to therapy can also manifest itself particularly among Black women, who are often forced by society to perpetrate facades which tell the world we’re abnormally strong. “The first step and the bravest step is to admit that you can’t handle the situation on your own,” said Pitts. “You really have to take that first step to lift that veil of shame and move forward because I think one of the things that holds us hostage to these feelings is that we don’t know anybody else and we feel like we’re the only one.”

Pitts said there is a role the larger Black community can play in helping to make it easier for sufferers to seek out help, including normalizing the disease (and mental health discussions in general) and talking more openly and honestly about our feelings. “We have to instill in our kids in a young age that it is okay to seek help; that it is not a form of weakness,” she said.

The holiday season can be particularly tough for depression sufferers. Not only does the season become an awful reminder of loneliness for those who aren’t close with friends or family, it also wears on others  who are mourning the loss of recently deceased loved ones. Pitts advises sufferers to avoid triggers and minimize stress, even if it means staying clear of certain family members or, if it’s too painful, the holidays altogether, and seek out people who are supportive and full of good energy. She also suggests exercise, which she says can act as a major anti-depressant.

If one’s depression gets to the point where he or she is incapable of maintaining daily activities, Pitts strongly suggests folks seek professional help. Thanks in part to the shifting public attitudes about mental health, Pitts said there are a number of easy ways for someone to access counseling services.

If a has insurance, she advises first checking with the health insurance provider to see what’s covered in network. Primary care providers are also good sources for getting references to reliable counselors who can match your comfort level. Likewise, many churches are realizing the value in supportive services and are now offering counseling in addition to their other ministries. Other traditional supportive service centers also offer free to low-cost counseling for those who are under-and unemployed.

“Our mental health is absolutely key to everything else that goes on in our lives. If we are not mentally healthy, we can’t give to and provide to for others,” Pitts said. “So just like how we want to watch our weight or what we eat or if we get enough sleep. We want to make sure we take the time to focus on our mental health too.”

Although Alicia is resistant to westernized counseling services, she said she does take time out daily to focus on her mental wellness, including engaging in activities and with people who truly make her happy. “Being around people who I am friends with; eating food that I love, things like that  [are what get me through]. Most importantly, telling myself that this is not going to last. That this is just a phase.”

And despite her personal objection, she does advise people who are suffering to seek professional help if needed. For her own mental health care, Alicia has also taken up video blogging and most recently produced an entry dedicated to her depression, which she said has brought her closer to strangers and friends alike who, unbeknownst to her, also suffer from depression.

“They tell me that I really helped them and that makes me feel good. I know that people may feel like they are alone in this situation. But there are other people out there who are also experiencing it alone,” she said.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed and suicidal, Pitts advises that you don’t wait or suffer in silence any longer. Instead, call the National Suicide Prevention hotline, which is available 24 hours, seven days a week at 1 (800) 273-8255.

Tips To Keep Business Pressures & Problems From Overwhelming You

November 20th, 2014 - By Ann Brown
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On November 11, Renee Mancino, who for years owned Carrot Top Bakery in Washington Heights, shot herself in the head in front of her husband and business partner, Bob, amid health complications and the possibility of losing her storefront, reports The New York Post. It appears the beloved NYC bakery owner felt so overwhelmed, she chose suicide.

Mancino, 66, who had her bakery in the same location for 31 years was in the midst of heated rent negotiations with her landlord; her monthly rent could have risen to $15,000. Her husband said the stress was just too much for his wife.

Like Mancino, many people get so stressed out over business situations that things seem helpless. In fact, according to Missouri Department of Mental Health, businesspeople and professional are in the high risk group for suicide. “The pressures to succeed and disillusionment over unfulfilled dreams place business people and professionals at risk,” states a report by the department’s Division of Comprehensive Psychiatric Services.

“Business/financial PTSD is a big issue for entrepreneurs. To cope they must be strong mentally, physically, and spiritually. This requires being proactive and developing strength before the cliff is in front of you,” explains executive trainer Hasani X. “Because that’s what it feels like. It’s like being on a cliff 24/7. That’s bad enough, but when things really get bad you feel like you have no safety harness, no ropes, and no way out.”

And sometimes it is difficult to extract yourself from the situation, but that’s something you need to do. If you see you are being pushed to the edge mentally due to stress at work, “be honest, admit you need help, create a plan to reduce the root causes, and  recognize that stress can be deadly, ” executive coach Farrah Parker explains to MadameNoire.

There are steps to take before things spiral out of control.

Focus on yourself: “Deposit more into yourself daily so that you become stronger. This will fortify you against stress and pressure. Think, meditation, exercise, connecting to purpose, and doing enjoyable things as Teflon to a nonstick pan. Nothing can stick to you,” suggests Hasani X. “Have an outlet that focuses on physical and emotional health. Whether it’s a brisk outdoor walk, yoga, or kickboxing, find a physical activity that provides solace while simultaneously improving your health,” adds Parker.

Be prepared for a crisis: “Setup rehearsed responses to stressful triggers. Psychological studies have proven that the mind can’t tell real from imagined experiences. So use this to your benefit. Use what I call Perfect Practice Therapy. Imagine the stressful scenario, but imagine yourself having a perfect response. Meaning, no stress, no fear, no worry,” says Hasani X.

Examine the stress: “Tackle the source of the stress. Strategically identify the root cause and diplomatically address it. If you feel your boss has placed too much on your plate, write an email outlining your current responsibilities and stress your commitment to doing a good job. Then carefully outline how you are unable to thoroughly meet the demands without sacrificing quality,” offers Parker.

Learn to let go: If your business is in ruins, take a hard look at the situation and future. If you have to let go, let go.  “Take an honest assessment. Decide if your business is salvageable or needs to close. It’s never too late to start fresh,” concludes Parker.

If you are unable to handle the stress, reach out for professional help, talk to a trusted confidant or contact the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK. Don’t bottle those feelings inside.

“I Hit Rock Bottom:” Claudia Jordan Recalls Being “Suicidal” Following Divorce & Financial Issues

November 5th, 2014 - By Jazmine Denise Rogers
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"Real Housewives of Atlanta" newbie Claudia Jordan recalls being "suicidal" following divorce and financial issues: "I laid in bed for months."

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Claudia Jordan may appear sharp-tongued and full of sass in the new “Real Housewives of Atlanta” trailer, but the 41-year-old says that there was an extremely dark point in her life when she considered ending it all. Apparently, the Bravo freshman has been plagued with money troubles for quite some time now. Thankfully, she says that she’s now on the “upswing.”

“I definitely had money and lost it all and got it back, lost it all again and now I’m on the upswing,” she told Radar Online.

As for the source of her monetary woes, Claduia blames predatory loans.

“I was a victim of some predatory loans, and I remember I was depressed for a while to the point I was actually suicidal.”

“I hit rock bottom. I lost everything, including my real estate,” she went on. “I was very proud of buying all my real estate on my own and [then] my show got canceled, I went through a divorce, basically I lost my work,” she continued. “Everything happened at the same time and I was depressed.”

During this challenging time in her life, Claudia says that she didn’t bother working. In fact, she barely left her bedroom.

“I laid in bed for months, and honestly I didn’t work,” she admitted. “I was depressed and I fell behind.”

Things got so bad that the “Celebrity Apprentice” alumn says she began the process of filing for bankruptcy, but she never followed through with it.

“There was someone that came to me that said, ‘Hey, I can help you. I can thaw it out,’” she explained. “I paid him $10,000 and he started to file the bankruptcy proceedings, but then we never followed through with it.”

She later found a way to pay off all of her debts.

“I ended up paying off what I owed, but someone filed on my behalf and we didn’t follow through with it,” she said. “I know that’s something people like to throw in my face, but you know what, a lot of people have gone through bankruptcy.”

Claudia adds that she hopes that her story will serve as inspiration for others who may be in uncomfortable situations.

“Like I said, there’s a lot of people out there that are dealing with a lot of sadness and adversity and I want them to look to me like, ‘Wow, if she dug herself out of that hole, then there is hope for me.’”

Are you interested in seeing Claudia on the new season of “Real Housewives of Atlanta?”

Comedian Wayne Brady Reveals Struggle With Depression: ‘Why Do I Feel So Dark?’

November 3rd, 2014 - By Jazmine Denise Rogers
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WENN

WENN

It’s frequently expressed that the funniest guy in the room also tends to be the saddest. And unfortunately, in comedian Wayne Brady’s case, this was true for quite some time. In a recent interview with Entertainment Tonight. the “Whose Line Is It Anyway” actor opened up about his lengthy battle with depression and what pushed him to make a change.

“Having a bad day is one thing, having a bad week is another, having a bad life … You don’t want to move, you can’t move in the darkness,” he shared. “You’re like, ‘I am just going to sit right here and want to wallow in this. As much as it hurts, I am going to sit right here because this is what I deserve. This is what I deserve, so I am going to sit here because I am that horrible of a person.’”

He went on to share that his negative mindset morphed into a vicious cycle of negative thinking and his condition worsened.

“It starts this cycle where you tell yourself these lies … and those lies become true to you,” he says. “So, you stick to your own truth you’ve set up. ‘If I am this bad, then why should any of this matter?’ I feel at that point, you end up wanting to stop the pain.”

The actor says that he hit rock bottom last June, on his 42nd birthday.

“I was there by myself, in my bedroom and I had a complete breakdown … Just go ahead and imagine for yourself a brother in his underwear, in his room, you got snot … and that birthday was the beginning of, ‘OK, I’ve got to make a change.'”

Wayne, who knew Robin Williams personally, says that the actor’s decision to end his life last August after struggling with depression also served as a wake up call.

“It took me a while to get my stuff together to go, ‘You know what? If you’re not happy, you have to do something about it,'” he said. “Just to admit that you are feeling this way is a huge step. To claim that, to say, ‘Why do I feel dark? Why do I feel unhappy? Let me do something about this.'”

Thankfully, Wayne is now on the road to recovery and he credits his ex-wife, Mandie Taketa, for helping him. Together, they co-parent their 11-year-old daughter, Maile.

Follow Jazmine on Twitter @JazmineDenise.

How To Keep From Falling Apart

July 23rd, 2014 - By Dee Rene
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Life happens when you least expect it and all of a sudden your world is upside down. We often face the big things back-to-back and right when you can’t take another thing, the small things come too. Your contacts rip or you lose your wallet and it all starts to feel like quick sand. You can’t find relief and every move you make only seems to bring you deeper in the pit. Even in the midst of turmoil, you can still keep it together and not fall apart.

  1. Take a nap & Breathe

We sit up sometimes losing sleep and not eating worried about things we can’t change by worrying about them. Sometimes the solution is to take some deep breaths and take a nap. The problem is going to be there when you wake up but sometimes you have to step back, relax, and face it when you are rested. It’s not avoiding your problems to know when you can’t handle something at the moment. To keep from falling apart you may need to take a step back.

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  1. Decide what you can control and what you cannot, then let it go

You cannot control someone being ill or passing away. You’ll need to deal with that hurt then let it go. You can control over spending on your budget and finding yourself in a financial sticky place. Let it go that you messed up this time and do better the next. Deciding what you can and can’t control is a key to not falling apart. Don’t beat yourself up for where you messed up something within your control. Don’t make yourself sick worrying about something you cannot change.  Life is a process of breaking and putting back together. Pick up whatever pieces you can and move forward.

  1. Remember you can cry

The strong superwoman/superman myth will have you believing that you can’t cry or feel what’s going on at the moment. That is false. It is okay to cry, to hurt, to be angry, to regret, to be uncomfortable. All of those emotions are okay to have as long as you don’t live there too long. Don’t let the emotions drown you and paralyze you. Give yourself time and then get up and start following suggestion #2. Remember it’s an ebb and flow and some days you’ll feel stronger than others but strength does come and you do eventually get through it. Seek help, friends, prayer and/or counseling on the really hard days.

  1. You’ve survived before

Remember that time in the past you thought it was so hard and difficult and you’d never get through it? And here you are, living through it. The same thing will happen this time. Every time you feel like falling apart remember that you have survived and thrived before and although this feels like the end of the world, it isn’t.

  1. Make Moves & Be Still

You can’t fix it all today but that’s no excuse to not do anything. As the saying goes, “do what you can with what you have where you are.” After you’ve given yourself space to cry and feel – get busy taking even the smallest steps to remedy your situation. When there is nothing you can do, be still. Don’t worry yourself frantically trying to do a whole lot without thinking it through. Sometimes the best course of action is to be still.

Hard times build tough people. When you are tempted to fall apart at the thought of all that you are enduring, take a breath, decide what you can control, cry, remember you’ve survived before and move forward. You can get through this no matter how dark it seems or how long it takes. On the other side of this, you’ll step back and realize you are impressed with yourself and how amazing you truly are afterall.

Dee Rene is the author and creator of Laugh.Cry.Cuss. @deerene_ @laughcrycuss

Celebrity Therapist Sherry Blake Offers Struggling Famous Couples Advice

July 16th, 2014 - By Brande Victorian
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Dr. Sherry Blake is known for setting Traci, Towanda, Trina, Toni, and Tamar straight about all their mess on the “Braxton Family Values,” but the celebrity therapist’s expertise doesn’t stop there. We caught up with the clinical psychologist during the Essence Festival fourth of July weekend and we asked her to apply some of her knowledge to celebrity couples whose marital woes have been in the news on a regular these days. Though Dr. Blake didn’t want to get too far into these couples’ personal business, she did impart some advice that’s useful for any romantic pair to keep in mind if they want to have a healthy relationship.

Check out what Dr. Sherry said in the interview above about maintaining positive unions and mental health issues in the African American community. What do you think?

15 Things Nobody Tells You About Dealing With Depression

July 16th, 2014 - By Meg Butler
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Depression is so much more than feeling a little blue. But because no one likes to talk about the big “D,” a lot of people don’t even realize that their struggle is more than real.

Depression

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You Will Feel Judged

Mostly because some people still treat depression like it’s not a real disease. Judging someone with depression is no different than judging someone with diabetes. Don’t let their lack of education shame you into not getting help. Not everyone is misinformed.

Family Members Of Accused Kid-Stabber Say He’s Not To Blame: ‘It’s Not His Fault’

June 9th, 2014 - By Jazmine Denise Rogers
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Source: NYDN

Source: NYDN

Parents across New York City were relieved to learn that the man suspected of stabbing two Brooklyn children had been apprehended by police. And while many are still wondering what would possess a man to want to harm children in such a cruel way, the suspect’s mother, Marie Bauzile, is blaming the criminal justice system for the crimes.

Five years ago, Daniel St. Hubert was arrested for viciously attacking his mother. However, Marie felt that her son needed to be placed in a mental health facility—not prison.

“Jail is not the answer,” 60-year-old Marie told the Daily News. “If people have a mental problem, it’s not jail. It’s not the answer.”

While serving time for trying to strangle his mother, Daniel was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. Despite his diagnosis, his sister, Judith Perry, says he was not given meds or psychiatric referrals when he was released from prison on May 23. Nine days after his release, he murdered 6-year-old Joshua Avitto and critically injured 7-year-old Mikayla Capers.

“They should not blame my brother,” Judith said. “The family should blame the system.”

Marie and Judith went on to tell reporters that Daniel did not receive mental health treatment until he tried to strangle a corrections officer in 2010.

“It took that long,” said a tearful Marie, who revealed that she’s unable to visit her son in prison due to a protective order. “If he’s sick, it’s not his fault.”

“I forgive him for what he did to me because it’s not something he can control,” she continued.

Judith, however, paid the 27-year-old suspect a visit after he was transferred from Riker’s Island to Bellevue Hospital for evaluation.

“I asked him if he did it,” Perry said. “He said, ‘Judith, you don’t even need to ask me. I didn’t do it.’ ”

Daniel’s father also discussed his mental health issues.

“He was a good kid when he was a child,” expressed Albert St. Hubert. “When he came home from jail just a few days ago, I spoke with him, I see he is not okay. The mental is not good.”

Thoughts?

T-Pain Opens Up About 2-Year Bout With Depression & How Chris Brown Stuck By His Side

June 5th, 2014 - By Jazmine Denise Rogers
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Source: IG

Source: IG

The entertainment business can be a flaky one. We witness all of the time how a person can be on top of the world one day and down and out the next. Sadly, producer and singer T-Pain says that it was this kind of valley experience that taught him who his true friends are. During a recent chat with MTV News, the musician, whose birth name is Faheem Najm, revealed that when his career took a bit of a nose dive, he sank into a two-year depression.

“I slept, drank, was depressed for no reason. I don’t know why. It was just weird,” he explained. “[It lasted] for about two years. It was a lot of broken stuff in my house.”

He adds that not only did industry friends stop calling, but they also avoided answering his calls. Though he admits that the experience was a hurtful one, he was thankful to have a good friend like Chris Brown, who stuck with him through the difficult times.

“Chris Brown because did it for him. I stayed friends with him. I did it for everybody, but, you know, Chris the most, because he was going through so much with all the backlash and stuff he was going through. And I still called him, hit him up, visit him in the studio, checked on him, make sure was OK, went by his house, just popped up in places that he was.”

T says Ne-Yo was also a person who remained in his corner.

“Ne-Yo stayed down,” he said. “Ne-Yo was in every strip club I went to, every time I went. Where you at? I’m coming. I don’t care where you at. I’m driving, I’m flying. Anywhere.”

As for everyone else, Pain says their “friendship” was contingent upon whether or not he had a new hit coming out.

“Everybody else just kind of fell off and was just like, ‘Aight, well, make a new song and we’ll call ya.'”

Now that he’s back on the music scene, we’re wondering how those fair-weather friends are treating him.

Watch T-Pain’s interview below. 

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T-Pain, Music News

17-Year-Old Biology Whiz Commits Suicide After Getting Caught Cheating And Feeling Humiliated In Front Of Classmates

June 2nd, 2014 - By Victoria Uwumarogie
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Twitter

A promising student from the Bronx took her life on Friday because she was reportedly caught cheating by a teacher and felt a wave of emotions that were too much for her to deal with.

According to the New York Post, 17-year-old Omotayo Adeoye, reportedly a “biology whiz” at Harlem HS for Math, Science and Engineering, was caught looking at her phone during an exam in her German class on Thursday afternoon. When her teacher caught her, the teacher reportedly made a scene that brought Adeoye to tears. According to a male student in the class, the teacher, Eva Malikova, took Adeoye’s phone. “She snatched it away from her and started screaming at her, ‘Oh, you shouldn’t be cheating! You guys shouldn’t be cheating! You guys are lying to yourselves!'”

The impromptu lecture to the class upset Adeoye to the point that she was visibly shaken, crying, saying “I’m sorry, I’m sorry” to her teacher.

Malikova was quoted as saying, “Oh, you are not really sorry. That’s not a sincere apology!”

Police have since confirmed that this exchange happened, and that afterwards, the teen wrote “I just want to go away forever on the bottom of the river” on her exam. She then asked to go to the bathroom around 2:15, and was allowed to go, but instead, she headed out of the school, which is on 140th street, and walked to the Hudson River at 165th street, where she reportedly jumped in and drowned herself. 

Adeoye could not swim, and witnesses at the Hudson at the time said that they saw her take off her ID and jump in the water, forcing herself to stay under. Police were called at 3:35 p.m. to the scene.  The high school didn’t call the police about Adeoye missing from her classes until almost 4:30 p.m.

Students at the school reportedly heard Malikova crying and screaming when she heard about the student’s passing on Friday, and she didn’t teach any classes that day. As for the school, the Department of Education issued a statement saying they were investigating this heartbreaking situation, and would also try to do more to address mental health issues with students. There have already been 13 suicides by public school students in the city since the year started.