Hello to all my serial monogamist, serial daters, and single people who just want to live free of commitment. I’ve been taking some time to get my thoughts together, because there is a topic that’s been on my heart heavy; the topic of mental health. Recently, we have seen quite a few cases of suicide among celebrities, and I have even seen cases close to home. People so often ignore the signs of poor mental health, and instead of checking in on their loved ones and encouraging them to find help, they give them lines such as, “stop acting crazy,” “you’re being extra,” or assuming that they will be fine and need some time. For so long, especially in the black community, we have been taught that therapy isn’t for us, and to take our burdens to the lord. Let me tell y’all something, the lord placed the tools in these therapist and counselors hands to help us with our issues, take advantage, it’s alright to want better for yourself. I have a lot of experience with mental health issues in my own life, my father being a major one; but myself, friends, other family members, and relationships opened the door even further and helped me realize that mental health issues come in many forms; people live with disorders and illnesses and don’t even realize it. Growing up, so many of us didn’t understand why our parents did things a certain way, or why we ended up making certain choices and a lot of the time it’s a result of our own traumas, and their traumas. We are taught to bury our issues, and not discuss them; dealing with everything in an unhealthy manner. I have dealt with so many issues that I always knew I had, but never really had a name for them and didn’t know exactly how to deal with them. I was fortunate enough to meet people as an adult who helped me realize certain things about myself, and I learned that counseling is helpful. There were plenty of things however I didn’t learn until I saw them in other people, realizing how problematic and toxic they could be. I often encourage people to seek counseling, and they always give me that damn “bih is you crazy” look. People just aren’t willing to do the work on themselves for themselves and their loved ones, and it’s leading to serious destruction. I truly hope that by seeing enough people embrace it, others will follow suit and seek help.
I had a relationship with someone, (and we’ll call this person T for the remainder of the story) who had serious mental health issues. In the beginning this relationship was beautiful, filled with passion, fun dates, and new experiences; everything quickly changed. T had a different side, and it had been there long before our relationship began. I saw random tantrums, yes tantrums, and signs of manic depression (bipolar disorder), and I’m not sure what else. I dealt with horrible communication, and T often felt attacked when I brought up things that were bothering me. I have a soft spot for people like this and convinced myself I could help and although the relationship was toxic as hell, I felt like I had to be there. T had a son, and I felt like for their child at least, they could seek counseling; but T fought me every step of the way. I was constantly getting accused of not caring or understanding, no matter what I said or did, it was never enough. If I spent too much time away, or more time with my friends T felt that I cared about them more. If the word no ever came out of my mouth, it was as if I had never said yes. I knew that this relationship was unhealthy but I was in too deep. T had childhood trauma dealing with molestation within the family and verbal abuse. Instead of finding a way to heal that pain , it manifested into deeper issues, and took over their life. T’s family did not want to face the truth, and realize how serious it was, so T often felt alone; I was the only one they had. I finally let go, and it got really ugly, but me leaving pushed T to get help, and get the treatment they needed.
I told that story in the most vague way possible to protect them, but two things came from that relationship. I realized that for the sake of our own mental health, we have to realize we can’t save everyone. Giving someone the tools to find help is important but we can’t feel like we are obligated to see them through, especially if they push us away. The second thing was that mental health issues are not a joke, and we have to talk about it in our families, if not then people can hurt others, and hurt themselves. If T had just one family member who cared, they may have found help a long time ago. Issues with a parent or parents, trauma from sexual, mental or physical abuse, anxiety and depression are not to be taken lightly. Those problems stay with us for all of our days until we decide that they no longer have to. We have to support those who are struggling, and check on those who don’t talk about their problems. We can be strong, but even the most strong need to release , and talk about what’s bothering them. Let people in your life know that you care, and ask them how they are doing; even if it’s just once a month. For our loved ones who are suffering , be patient with them, and encourage them to continue doing the work on themselves. If you happen to be in a relationship with someone who has yet to work through their baggage, encourage them to seek help, and for the sake of your own mental health, let go and get the toxicity out of your life. We deserve happiness, and we deserve to be healthy in every way, don’t let anyone make you feel “crazy” for reaching for it. That’s all I have for today, I’ll be back next week. In the meantime, if you liked this post please share, and scroll to the bottom of the page and hit FOLLOW! If you’re new to TSM, please check out my other post.
P.S. This week I used Jennifer Lewis for my image. She is one of the most talented and transparent people of our time, and in her book she speaks about her own journey with mental health; it only seemed right to choose such an icon to grace ya’ll with. If you haven’t already, check out her book The Mother of Black Hollywood.
National Suicide Prevention Hotline : 1-800-273-8255
If you’re looking for a therapist in your area, visit http://www.psychologytoday.com ; if being able to afford therapy is an issue for you, there is a way to search for therapists who take your health insurance, so money can’t hold you back from being your best self! XOXO