Many black women today continue to hold onto a stigmatizing belief about mental illness. Refusing to reach out and ask for help assuming that they would be made fun of or bullied, for not being emotionally stable. Why going to therapy could save our black community of queens and repair the damage done by providing psychology solutions for those emotional hurdles being faced by our black woman.
Like seriously lets be honest here sis, if we express ourselves, we are considered a mad or scorned black woman.
We are forced to hold it all in as if everything is okay. When in reality, we are falling apart emotionally and mentally. DAMNIT!
Walking In My Truth
As a black woman, I have noticed that within my culture, going to a therapist is look down upon. I remember very clearly the words spoken to me when I acknowledged that I needed to seek counseling. “You need to pray about it and let it go, you don’t want people in your business, you know what your problem is when God doesn’t move when you need him to you get impatient.” These words pierced my heart, when I know I tried it and continue to feel the same way. Why though? I’ve been told to pray about it. I’ve been called “Crazy”, “Inconsistent” and feeling as if my situation is small and because others are going through worse than me, I should be able to get through whatever I am faced with.
Removing The Stigma
The stigma of mental health isn’t anything new to the black community—Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. reportedly had severe depression during periods of his life and refused psychiatric treatment, even when urged to seek care by his staff. We know that race does not play a role in the rate of mental health conditions, but the black community is far less likely to seek care. Which in reality, is sad. To believe that we are not worthy of being emotionally stable and to live life stress-free is heartbreaking. Forced to believe a black woman don’t go to therapy, they go to church. This religious coping is a stigma that must be removed as a sole treatment from our black woman with mental health issues. I can attest that my religious belief is all that I had to get me through. At times it felt like at worked, and other times felt like I was being looked over and forced to endure the mental hardship. When will we say enough is enough by encouraging our sisters to seek treatment.
Controlling Your Emotions
The day I decided to schedule an appointment for therapy, I was laying in my bed with a pillow full of tears wondering how do I get out of this dark area in my life. I had people constantly telling me, Porsche, you need to work on your emotions. You need to learn how to manage your emotions. I constantly felt attacked by others. Not having someone to talk about my problems, and never being taught how to process my emotions or trauma, I found myself crying more and feel more worthless. Lashing out at others, easily triggered and unmotivated to change my situation. I became comfortable with the mentally unstable woman I was.
Other examples of stigma faced by black women:
- Not being taken seriously
- Feelings as if your problems aren’t unique to you and everyone goes through things
- Feeling forced to be strong
- Made fun/bullied for not being emotionally stable as other
- Too expensive
- Being treated like
But in reality did I honestly need to work on my emotions? Was it really me?
The Day of My Appointment
The morning of my appointment I was so excited to finally be putting myself first and not listening to what others feel how I should go about my mental health. I arrived at the center and I noticed there was not one African American client in the building. I walked in feeling like a sore thumb, with a huge bandage across my face. Was it maybe just the day I came? I wanted to see someone like me. I thought it would make me feel better. Instead, what let me know I was in the right place was a sentence within their mission statement.
“Our goal is to reduce your pain and suffering, and help you enhance the quality of your life.” -Carolina Center For Counseling & Clinical Services, Inc.
I feel my nervousness fade and sudden breathe of relief release from my pressed lips. I don’t have to be strong anymore. Whether the session last 20-55 minutes, that moment to feel like the world is lifted reassured me that I was again making the BEST decision for ME. For me and as a mom. For me as a daughter. For me as a black woman. For me! Finally for me!
I had an amazing therapist name Micheala (Mah-Kah-Lah). She allowed me to literally pour my hear out during the first session. I couldn’t hold on to it. Once I felt comfortable with her, my words poured out like water. Not even able to stay on topic and completely discuss one trauma before I was already forming why I was hurt next.
This is only suppose a questionnaire sessions, that would last only 15-30 minutes. I lost all sense of time. I went in at 3:00P.M and didn’t leave until 5:00 P.M.
Let me be VERY CLEAR WHEN I SAY THIS. Jesus is my Lord and Savior. I will and shall not deny him in front of anyone or through any outlet. What I am saying is, religious coping should not be a black woman’s only form of healing. God has in place so many professionals to assist us with being the best you that you can be. When that door is open for you too walk through, do not allow the stigma held over our black community allow you to not live a emotionally stable life.