All Articles Tagged "mental health"
The Story Unfolds: Jovan Belcher Told Secret Girlfriend He’d Shoot Kasandra Weeks Before Killing Her
While murder certainly was not the answer, as more details are uncovered regarding the murder-suicide involving Kansas City Chiefs linebacker, Jovan Belcher and his girlfriend Kasandra Perkins, we are provided with more insight as to what pushed Jovan to commit the heinous act of shooting his girlfriend and then himself.
According to The Kansas City Star, police reports reveal that not only did Belcher text message his girlfriend on the side expressing that he “would shoot” Kasandra “if she didn’t leave him alone,” only weeks prior to the murder-suicide, but also that the couple was experiencing intense relationship issues and that they argued frequently. Some of the particular issues named in the report included “trust issues,” disagreements over spending, and the couple’s 3-month-old daughter Zoe. Belcher also revealed to his “secret girlfriend” that Kasandra had been threatening to “take all his money and his child if they split up.”
Head coach of the Chiefs, Romeo Crennell, also revealed that the strained relationship between Kasandra and Jovan was affecting his performance as he recalled an incident weeks preceding the murder when Jovan showed up late to a team meeting and expressed that Kasandra had been out late the night before, leaving him to stay up all night with the couple’s newborn.
Jovan’s mother, Cheryl Shepherd, moved in with the couple two weeks prior to the shooting in an effort to help the couple make it through their rough patch. According the Shepherd, many arguments stemmed from “relationship problems due to financial issues associated with Perkins’ spending habits.”
To add to the tragedy, details surrounding Jovan’s last moments have also been revealed. It is being reported that Belcher offered an apology to his coaches before shooting himself. According to general manager Scott Pioli, Belcher said:
“I’m sorry, Scott. I’ve done a bad thing to my girlfriend already. I want to talk with (linebackers coach Gary) Gibbs and Romeo.”
Crennell pleaded with Jovan not to take his own life, telling him that he was “taking the easy way out,” but when Jovan saw a police officer approaching him he quickly made the cross sign across his chest, placed the gun to his head and pulled the trigger.
It is unfortunate that Jovan felt murder and suicide were the only methods of escape from the problems he was facing. Still, Kasandra’s story has yet to be told.
I was never able to figure out what it was about me that made people feel so comfortable. It took me awhile to successfully put my finger on the reason why people I barely knew felt comfortable enough to ask me to borrow money. It never clicked why people I sort of knew felt like it was cool to ask personal questions such as how much I make or invite themselves over to my home. I couldn’t understand why men I simply knew as acquaintances felt like it was cool to inappropriately comment on my figure. I used to foolishly credit this out of line behavior to my personality; I’m a pretty friendly person. But, after years and years of tolerating this disturbing behavior, it finally hit me that this was abnormal. I realized that I never really set personal boundaries with people, which is why they constantly overstepped them.
Personal boundaries are defined as the physical, emotional and mental limits we establish to protect ourselves from being manipulated, used, or violated by others. They are important and absolutely necessary to the maintenance of your well-being and the upkeep of healthy relationships whether they be romantic relationships, familial relationships, friendships, office relationships and any other category of relationships that you can think of. Boundaries ultimately determine how much you are willing to give and how much you are willing to tolerate and accept from those around you. People who do carry on relationships without putting these personal guidelines in place are frequently uncomfortable and often offended by those around them, but they don’t say or do much about it. This struggle often stems from underlying feelings of self-doubt and unworthiness.
So, how do you know if you have issues setting personal boundaries? Do you feel as if you are being mean when you have to say no to people? Do you struggle with saying no? Are you always reluctant to let people know when they’ve offended you? Do you consistently allow people to make you feel uncomfortable? These are all signs that can be indicative of boundary issues.
Discovering that you have a problem is half of the battle. Many people will realize that they struggle with setting personal boundaries but are unsure of how to or if it is even possible to make a change. The good news is that as long as you have breath in your body, change is possible. The even better news is that this change can begin today because it starts within. One of the first steps towards setting healthy boundaries is having a conversation with yourself. Recognize what makes you uncomfortable. Realize that you have the right to guard your body and your emotions from being invaded by others. Acknowledge how much you can and are willing to take from other people. Accept that fact that it is impossible to please everyone and that sometimes in order for you to be happy you will have to learn the word “no.” Once you’ve established these boundaries from within, it is time to carry them out externally. Comprehend what is being asked of you and how you will be affected before agreeing to do anything. Become more comfortable using the words “I feel,” “I want,” “I won’t,” “I dislike when,” and “I can’t” when speaking to people. Know that people who genuinely care about you won’t be offended by your boundaries. It may take them some time to adjust to them, but they certainly will not be opposed to them. Practice expressing your feelings to others calmly and gracefully. And of course, prepare to walk away from those who can’t respect the healthy boundaries that you’ve set; everyone won’t be happy about the changes you are making to better yourself.
The key to keeping these boundaries is to remain consistent. Putting personal boundaries in place can be a very uncomfortable process but it will certainly improve your quality of life if you stick with it. Don’t allow yourself to become intimidated by the reactions of others; be direct and stand your ground. The more you practice these habits, the more assertive you will become.
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This news is a little early but still good nonetheless. No Shame Day is coming up and though there are a million different ways you can take that, the true meaning is having no shame as black women regarding our mental health issues.
July 2 marks the date of the first international no shame day, created by The Siwe Project, a global non-profit dedicated to promoting mental health awareness throughout the international black community. Bassey Ikpi, a well-known mental health advocate and poet, who has written extensively about her own experience having Bipolar II disorder, is the founder of the Siwe Project. On the campaign’s website she said:
“The aim is to create community. People with illness forging with those who support or have loved ones with an illness. We’re encouraging people to tend to their mental health that day without shame.”
This is a real-life example of someone putting the rubber to the road and not just speaking on the fact that black women need to let go of the stigma surrounding mental health issues, but actually providing a platform and an opportunity for us to do so in a comfortable environment, proving that we truly aren’t ashamed and backing up the supportive nature we’ve been praised for.
All organizers are asking people to do on July 2, which marks the first Monday of National Minority Mental Health Month, is to “publicly share their mental health journeys or speak as allies for loved ones in their lives.” Individuals can also log on to The Siwe Project website and participate in the ongoing conversations about self-care and mental health options.
A safe place for black women to be open about what weighs them down is definitely good news.
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I love my Father. I feel so blessed to have landed such a great one. The best chef, a wizard with words and a craftsman who has built houses with his bare hands. I owe a lot to him. He prepared me for so much in life.
However, there’s one thing he never prepared me for. As I approach my late twenties I’m struggling with watching my Father age. It’s like it happened over night. My Father was in his early thirties when I was born and other than his weight fluctuating he hadn’t aged much once he hit 40 years old. Since I moved out at 18, I’ve seen my father in 3-6 months intervals ever since. But it’s been these last two years where each visit it’s like I’m seeing a new person. And I’m terrified. Every visit I’m being reminded that there will be a day when I have to say a final good bye, a day where I will miss him and I can’t hop on the train to see him or pick up the phone and call him. Just the thought brings me to tears and now I have a visual reminder that it is the reality of me getting older, my parents are too. However what separates my Mother from my Father in the aging process, are factors that affect most men, especially the Baby Boomers of color. Mental health.
The Black community has long skirted the issue of mental health, curtly brushing it under the rug. Smacking it down as some repugnant trait of those with less melanin. Even as we have watched some of our biggest celebrities grapple with the complexities of poor mental health, D’angelo, Junior Seau, Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston. Our community has ignored the gravity that mental health has on our over well-being and quality of life. This is especially true for Black men who often are taught to define their masculinity by their ability to hold in their emotions. Never cry, never break down…you must always pick your self up and keep it moving. My Father has been threw two divorces, a failed engagement and a recession that wiped out his 401k and hopes of retiring anytime soon. He was trained to pick it up and keep it moving, never letting on to any emotional turmoil. He grinned and bared it all. My Mother was hit exceptionally hard just as my Father, with the ending of her marriage, another failed relationship, the complete burglary and then loss of her home. She too grinned and bared it, right to the therapist and gym. For women, though we still have a long way to go, the push towards understanding our mental health has been a lot more rampant and vocal. My Mother has had a chance to hear that discussion.
As a twenty something, watching the recession help make my college degree close to worthless, fighting to stay a float in the biggest rat race known as New York City and the myriad of other struggles that have left me not wanting to get out of bed, the biggest mental note savior has been that I can’t give up because I still have so much life to live. At 60 years old, the same mental note doesn’t carry much weight. The aging I’ve seen my Dad undergo, seems to be a clear sign of his beginning to give up. He’s going through the motions of life and it’s as if I’m watching him dig his own premature grave.
Father’s Day is Sunday, and the biggest gift you can give to your Father is that of happiness and health. There’s a myriad of statistics to back up my personal tale, even Soledad O’brien touched on it on Black in America. But it’s not numbers that need to move you. Rather your heart that makes you sit down and have that careful conversation with your father. No one wants to see their Dad die from a sudden heart attack, stroke or any other stress induced condition. We can’t ignore how our Father’s eating, sleeping and personal hygiene habits are indicative of their mental health. If any of those habits are faltering it is a clear connection to their mental health.
Put out some thoughtful suggestions even if he shoots them down, just ask that he think about them on his own. Then offer to do your part to help him get better. It can be as simple as calling every day to pray with him, offering to make his bed, buy him new pillows (good sleep is important!), whatever simple task cater it to your father’s needs and being.
I implore all of you for Father’s Day to make that start too. Find your angle and have that talk with your father.
I did and in one sentence I burst into tears and finished out an hour long conversation in between sobs.
Dad, I love you and I need you to live long(er)…
So, yesterday morning, I was listening to a local, black news radio station. This particular program was discussing a weekend shooting, which happened outside of a popular specialty hamburger restaurant here in Philly. According to news reports the shooting was the result of an altercation, which began between two tables outside of the eatery. The altercation eventually spilled over to a side street, where one of the guys shot the other guy he was arguing with. The shooting victim would die later at the hospital.
As I’m writing this, there have been 162 murders in Philadelphia. That number might have increased by the time you finish reading this post. As sad as that is, the senseless violence on the streets of Philadelphia has been showing up in major, and minor, cities across the country. In Chicago, a city which has been suffering through double digit shootings over the last few months, the number of Chicagoans murdered in the last decade is two and a half times the number of U.S. soldiers killed in Afghanistan. And in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, the homicide rate there exceeds the rates in New York, Los Angeles and Washington D.C.
It should come as no surprise that handguns are the weapons of choice in most of these murders. Many folks believe our easy access to guns, is responsible for the high murder rate in the country, particularly our community. Even the host of the radio program I was listening to theorized that guns make cowards fearless and most folks nowadays are scared of a fair one-on-one fist fight. All of those might be suitable responses however none of that really addresses the root cause of why people feel the need to resort to violence – be it with a gun or a fist fight – in the first place?
Later on in the day, I read an article in the Huffington Post about how meditation has been proven an effective treatment in lowering blood pressure among black teens. According to a group of researchers from Georgia Health Sciences University, in a study of 62 black teens with high blood pressure, those who mediated for twice a day had managed to lower left ventricular mass, thus reducing the chances of heart attacks and strokes later in life. So what does this have to do with the murder rate?
Homicide and suicide are the second and third leading causes of death, respectively, among teens ages 15 to 19, The common belief is that most homicides are over drugs or involve gang violence however the reality is that there are a lot of hotheads out there ready to pull the trigger and take someone’s life over the most mundane reasons. We read too many stories of people dying over parking spaces and other domestic disputes than we do about folks dying over gang colors.
And that got me thinking about how so much of our existence centers around insecurity, which contributes to stress. I’m not talking about insecurity in the most vain sense of the word but the insecurity that comes from living in a situation of uncertainty. In the 2008 PBS four hour long documentary, Unnatural Causes: Is Inequality Making Us Sick?, the role that social determinants such as class and race was proven to have a greater impact on one’s health outcomes than genetics or personal behavior. According to the film poor people are often subjected to a poverty tax, which basically means that they must pay more for goods and services (including rent, food, transportation and taxes), have lower access to parks and recreation centers and are constantly living in fear of both violence and their shaky financial situation.
And let’s not forget about the impact that the persistence of racism has on the minds and spirits of black men, women and children? It has been proven that there is a clear association between experiences of racism and psychological distress for black folks. Taking all of this evidence combined, it would seem that both poverty and racism not only adversely affect one’s own mental health but also can also shorten one’s life through heart attacks, strokes and yes, even violence. In short, what we are probably seeing across the country is a collective mental breakdown among folks, who just can’t deal anymore.
Of course, the short answer to ending violence is a consorted effort to ending racism and poverty. However, this is America: the land of exploitation and indifference. And even folks, who genuinely care about doing one or the other – or even both – find themselves spitting into the wind, so to speak. While many of us know how to survive, very few know the key to learning to deal with what is the reality of our constant situation. I’m not saying that we have to accept our fate as eternal subjugated people, but we do need to learn how to mentally work around poverty and racism so that we, as a community, can be strong enough to not only fight against the trappings of racism and poverty but also ensure that it doesn’t kill us – or worse cause us to kill somebody else.
Folks have to take care of their mental health as seriously as they do dieting and exercising. Some thing as simple as sitting quietly for 15 minutes and meditating, twice a day, could go a long way in giving yourself the clarity needed to deal with whatever situation crosses your path.
The best thing about mediating is that there is no one correct way to do it. I did a traditional, legs cross, eyes closed and palms to the sky meditation sit-in before. It wasn’t my thing plus my legs got numb after the first ten minutes. So once a week, take a walk, preferably outside of the neighborhood. There is also yoga, tai chi and chanting. Heck, go to a park and engage in walking mediation, which teaches how to tune out the distractions and tune in to your inner self in a real life situation. I don’t know if it will cure all violence in the community but in the spirit of my favorite song by Talib Kweli, folks got to start questioning what it is they do to Get By.
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Some people are born with an optimistic attitude. Well, actually we all are; but some have learned the art of maintaining this happiness or optimism after departing the innocent stage of childhood. As growing women, many of us experience the same ups and downs of life. When it comes to the problems that many of us face, it’s pretty much the same script only a different cast. While some women’s problems are more severe than others, we all have our happiness tested. As failed relationships, disappointments, unachieved dreams, and a variety of other things creep into our lives, our happiness seems to creep out.
As cliché as it sounds, happiness is a state of mind. I’m sure when you’re feeling less than excited about circumstances in your life this is probably the last thing you want to hear. It’s almost worse than the generic consoling phrase, ‘it will get better.’
Still, we all know that eventually circumstances do get better, hearts are healed, and debt paid off; but it can become difficult to remain optimistic and exude happiness in the midst of these aggravating situations. While every day or every situation may not make you happy an overall happy existence is attainable, if you work at it.
So before you pour countless hours into unfulfilling jobs, subpar relationships, or other can-wait situations, try these 7 tips to find and maintain your happiness.
Approximately 1 in 110 children in the United States is autistic; and while the prevalence of the condition is virtually the same among blacks and whites, a new study found that black children typically aren’t diagnosed until a full year-and-a-half later than white children.
Researchers are dredging up the usual explanations for the delay: lack of access to quality and affordable health care. But according to Martell Teasley, an associate professor in the College of Social Work at Florida State University in Tallahassee, “social stigma attached to mental health issues within the black community” may also play a role because it leads to “less discussion about autism among African Americans or between African Americans and health care providers.” Lack of trust in the health care system may also cause parents to resist seeking treatment, even when signs of the disorder are evident.
“African-Americans are well versed in going to a doctor who might have biases or discriminatory practices, so they may not readily accept what a doctor says.”
Living in urban communities doesn’t help either, as mental health facilities in such areas have steadily been on the decline for the past 30 years. What’s most important is education encouraging African American parents to seek proper resources if their child shows signs of the spectrum disorder—and to do so as early as possible in order to have the greatest impact on their child’s health because as Teasley points out, “later intervention will result in a poorer developmental outcome that can have a lasting impact on the child’s and family’s quality of life.”
What do you think is the biggest reason for delayed diagnoses among African American children?
Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.
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When news broke that Don Cornelius, the iconic founder of Soul Train, committed suicide on Feb. 1, the nation reacted with shock and an outpouring of grief. Spontaneous Soul Train Lines broke out in New York’s Times Square and condolences flooded social media platforms as his legacy was celebrated. Still, the manner in which Cornelius died is a painful reminder that despite public perception being the opposite, suicide is a mental health issue that is pertinent to the African American community.
“The discussion of Don Cornelius is an opportunity to talk about suicide in the Black community and access to mental health services,” says Sean Joe, the Associate Professor of Social Work and Associate Director of the Program for Research of Black Americans at the University of Michigan.
Read how suicide is affecting the African American community at Black Enterprise.com.
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I’ve always been sensitive to news of someone’s death, whether I knew them personally or just happened to come across their story in the news. This is particularly true when it comes to suicide. Immediately I think of what it must have taken to get the person to the point of not just having suicidal thoughts but to actually pull the trigger, or take the pills, or make the cut.
But while I sit in sympathy and ponder the sadness they must have been feeling and the emotions those closest to them must be experiencing, I’ve realized there are others who have drastically different reactions to news of suicides. While I ponder explanations like depression and isolation, they think selfishness and cowardice.
It’s interesting since news of Don Cornelius’s apparent suicide yesterday, those words haven’t been brought up. Perhaps Don’s positive influence is so great that it overshadows his controversial passing or perhaps suspicions of dementia or Alzheimer’s give him a pass from simply being a weak person who couldn’t handle the cards he was dealt, because that’s often the attitude that is projected when someone takes his own life. It always baffles me that if even in death you can’t understand someone’s suffering, how are you surprised that those same people didn’t seek help when they were living?
As far as we’ve gotten away from Catholic teachings that someone who commits suicide is automatically damned to hell, it’s clear that isn’t what makes suicide such a taboo in society, so what is? This issue is far from being one that’s solely black but it bears a deeper look in a community that is typically resistant to accept or discuss mental health. If we can’t accept or understand someone’s choice to take their own life then how can we be accepting or understanding of the circumstances that lead them to that decision while they’re still living? People tend to question why a person didn’t just “say something” but I tend to believe the person has been saying something all along—either vocally or indirectly through their moods or behaviors—and those signs were either ignored, unrecognized, or brushed off, as was the case with Ashley Duncan. That’s not something we can afford to do any longer.
Black women are more likely to attempt suicide but black males are much more likely to complete it. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide is the third leading cause of death among African American males between the ages 15 and 24, and in 2007, of the 1,958 African Americans who committed suicide, 1,606 or 82 percent were males, according to the American Association of Suicidology.
I understand family and friends who are left behind feel as though a person’s choice to commit suicide was selfish but it’s also selfish to only think about the pain they’re feeling in that moment and not the pain that must have driven their loved one to take that step. It’s also unfair to assume what another person should be capable of handling. What one person may think they can take, another simply may not, and no one can say who’s right or wrong. I think it’s safe to say the perceptions of anyone dealing with thoughts of suicide may not be fully in line with reality as outsiders see it. While people may be around and willing to help, those battling depression tend to not see things that way or to feel as though they are a burden and may in fact be doing their loved ones a favor by taking their own lives. Our perceptions create our realities and once someone is gone there’s no way of knowing what they were truly thinking at the time.
Rather than attempting to admonish any guilt that may be felt by disregarding a suicide victim’s circumstances, it would be far more beneficial to think about what can be done to prevent more deaths in the future. Responsibility for a victim’s death cannot be placed on the shoulders of everyone around them but we should be accountable for the attitudes we have toward depression and other mental health issues so that we can eliminate those stigmas and not worry about people taking that next fatal step in the future.
What are your thoughts on suicide? Do you tend to see it as a selfish or cowardly choice? Do you think the black community is more likely to view suicide as taboo?
Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.
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by Holly Stokes
Why should we forgive?
It’s important to forgive because the resentments that we hold onto mostly affect us, not the other person that we are angry with. Any resentments that we hold get in the way of our happiness. Much like spots on a windshield, we can’t see our lives effectively if we haven’t washed off the spots that get in the way of our clarity. Our brain records all our memories and our
emotions together. You may have found yourself driving down the road and thinking about a past event, even though the event is over and done. As you think about the event, you experience the same emotions that you felt at the time.
As you think of an old argument, you feel angry or frustrated all over again. It’s hard to move your life forward if you keep getting sucked into negative emotions of the past. If we carry lot of resentments, it gets in the way of our quality of life.
Another way to think of forgiving is to think of it as letting go. Even though some people may not “deserve” forgiveness, we don’t forgive them for their sake, we forgive for our own wellbeing. Forgiving the past can improve your quality of life, it can improve your happiness, and allow you greater clarity in moving forward. As we forgive others, we are better able
to move forward in our lives, without getting sucked into the negatives of the past.
1. Identify any positive lessons from the situation. Sometimes the positive lessons can be how to avoid such a situation in the future.
2. Fix the negative ideas. From negative experiences, we can take on negative ideas about life, the world, other people, or ourselves. Identify any negative ideas you picked up from the event and replace it with more positive and supportive ideas. For example, one client I had was going through a divorce and picked up on the idea that “relationships are painful,” which led her to avoid dating and getting involved. Instead of forming negative ideas, look at the ideas you took on from the situation and change them to ones that will be more positive and supporting.
3. Process the negative emotions. Get clear about what you felt from the event. Journaling about the event is helpful for identifying negative emotions and expressing your emotions about the situation.
4. Make a Choice. With the negative events we experience, sometimes it’s easy to feel like a victim. But, recognize that you can make a new choice. Say, “I choose to let this situation go.”
5. Change the memory with visualization. Imagine seeing the other people involved in the situation, and imagine yourself in a bubble of light (especially helpful for traumatic events as if the bubble is a shield or protection). See each of the people in their own bubble and imagine sending them back to themselves. Imagine seeing the situation as you would have liked to experience it. For example, if you had an argument with someone, imagine seeing the resolution of the argument. This changes how the brain codes the memory, so that when you remember the event, it will also have the information of the changed memory.
6. Call on your Higher Power. If you are having a difficult time letting go of the past event or the feelings of hurt, ask your higher power to help you release and let go of the situation. You only have to be willing to let go, and offer it up to your higher power.
Holly Stokes, The Brain Trainer, works with clients all across the U.S. to Get More Of What You Want Out of Life! Whether Life Happiness, Weight Loss, Love and Relationships or Business Success, she uses Life Coaching for creating clarity and direction with your goals, and “brain training” to set up your mind for success with motivation and focus to achieve what you want.