A few weeks ago or maybe even a month or two ago, I had an epiphany on the direction that I wanted to go with this blog. I was excited about continuing the topics I’ve written about already—inspiration, empowerment, self-esteem, goal-setting, sisterhood, motherhood, etc—but I also wanted to start writing about something that is still taboo in American society, especially in the black community—mental illness.
I’d been listening to a few T.D. Jakes sermons about finding and living your purpose. The phrase, “Nothing you’ve been through will be wasted” kept showing up whenever I watched one of his worship services online or read an article about him. It made me think about my life. It made me reflect on the trials that have molded me into who I am today–my own struggles with depression and the effects of alcoholism on my family. Even though I strongly feel that my purpose involves speaking out on these types of issues, I can’t deny that it FREAKS ME OUT! In fact, that’s probably why I’ve been quiet on the blogging front. I hadn’t mustered up enough courage to write about the topics that really moved me so I just didn’t write anything. But the wise Nelson Mandela once said that “courage is not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it” so I guess it’s okay to feel afraid, but definitely not okay to let that fear prevent me from action.
Disclaimer: I have no rights to this photo. Copyright by asboluv, “tortured soul (asboluv – stencil on cardboard)” via flickr, CC BY 2.0
Let’s face it, as black people, we have a hard time calling a spade a spade when it comes to the topic of mental illness. I think many of us still deny that black people deal with mental health issues like other races do. For one thing, we often don’t consider substance abuse, especially alcohol abuse, a form of mental illness. We don’t bat an eye at that relative that can wake up looking for a beer before breakfast or the one that we rarely, if ever, see sober. It’s just the way it is. Of course, alcoholism is not just a black issue, but I do think it’s time to start having frank conversations about all forms of mental illness that are occurring in our communities instead of acting like it’s a “white problem.” Even if many of us don’t have personal experience with mental disorders, we may have a friend that dealt with postpartum depression, a third cousin that had a nervous breakdown, or an uncle that has a drug problem. We are not immune to mental illness and it’s time we stop being ashamed of it, or worse, in denial about it.
Popped Black Woman Blog is still about being positively optimistic & powerful. Yet, I can’t sit here and act like it’s easy or even possible to live our best lives by simply telling ourselves to think happier thoughts if we are battling severe clinical depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, bipolar disorder, or some other serious form of mental illness. Sometimes all the self-help books, TED talks, or prayer group/Bible study meetings just won’t do it. Gasp! Don’t judge me on the last comment. I believe in the power of the Holy Spirit and the Word of God. I’m just one of those people that believes that God can heal through doctors and therapists, not only through your pastor. Let’s keep it real here. Some people NEED medication. To deny this would be naïve, unhealthy, and possibly deadly.
I hope to discuss all of the same ole stuff, while also sharing resources available to those that struggle with mental illness, self-care tips for everybody, and simply shed more light on how mental health issues affect the lives of people of color in America. Don’t worry. I’ll still hit you all with my random 101 Things in 1001 Days updates, lotion-making/DIY progress, and any other topics that may encourage you all or make you smile.
As always, keep it positively optimistic & powerful folks and share any thoughts you have in the comments or on Facebook 😉