Mental health is becoming less stigmatized and more of a topic amongst blacks but its existence in the black community is not a novelty. Generally, blacks have been conditioned to pain for centuries so past generations invalidate mental illness. Therefore, in celebration of minority mental health month, I’ll describe reason a person of color (particularly blacks) should undergo mental healthcare treatment. 1) Because well…I’m black and have experienced these circumstances. 2) and/or I’ve witnessed friends or family experience them. 3) or it’s common in the African-American community.
Trauma as a result of broken relationships is a big one for me. Black women, myself included, are often taught to be strong and endure suffering in relationships. “Dust it off and keep it moving” is the message. When in actuality, that’s just suppressing the pain. That stifled hurt will surface in future relationships (something I learned in therapy ).
Getting to the root of the trauma is the first step that allows you to prevent the cycle. Identifying triggers is powerful. No one can repair anything they don’t know exist. Drifting along in camaraderie is fun when you’re young, but as you grow older, consciousness in entanglements (Lol) is best. It’s attainable to have bliss with friends and lovers in adulthood, but making intentional choices increases the likelihood of compatible/lifelong bonds.
Years ago, I was encouraged to go to therapy by friends and family because of the dysfunctional in my childhood. I was reluctant because I didn’t see or feel the need. Throughout the years, I didn’t realize I was only putting a Band-Aid over past wounds. Subconsciously, I sought love and acceptance from outsiders both platonically and romantically. Operating in codependency was my way of life. I looked past flaws in others which was to my detriment later on. I was not self-aware enough to place boundaries in situations or avoid them altogether until seeing a therapist.
Following a series of failed relationships, I finally woke up. No matter how much I attempted, things kept falling apart. That’s when I finally threw my hands up, and went to therapy. I had to stop thinking the endurance of toxicity was eventually rewarding. The counseling sessions revealed my triggers, my toxic contributions to my own pain, and some helpful tools to manage anxiety and stress.
Trauma as a result of broken relationships in parent-child relationships is another commonality for blacks. Some children were raised with one parent, maybe raised by a grandparent, or other family members. If you grew up with both parents as a black person it’s a rarity. Count that blessing. As for the rest of us, we were subject to the absence of one or more parents which was damaging at varying degrees.
Some family divisions were due to mass incarceration, voluntarily exits because a lack of adequate role models themselves or some were physically present but their own trauma caused them to be mentally absent. Either way, it produced underlying mental issues. There are exceptions as with everything. It’s not always a misfortune when parents are separated because those particular adults are doing some phenomenal coparenting *claps hands*!Following the childhood trauma then leads to trauma from financial instability for most blacks. Hence, a cycle of poverty. To paint the picture: What is if you have no inheritance, no trust fund, or no leg up in life, where does it come from? “Yourself” is the conclusion many blacks have drawn.
Consequently, our burdened mothers push their children to be independent at tender ages. That premature emptying of the nest has a failure rippling effect because you’re just winging life with no financial literacy or support.
After a while, the debt piles up and we’re in a rut from mismanaging finances. I’ve seen my fellow millennials either continue self-destructing to keep a false image or go into damage control near their 30’s. By that age, you’re “supposed” to have it together. The truth is many are just getting it together by then and that’s credited to trial and error. I’m amongst the latter yet I’m still looking at these student loans. Yikes!
Newsflash: we can heal. This generation is privileged to an abundance of knowledge on the internet. We are more advanced in terms of mental health than our elders and are able to, point out unhealthy generational patterns and seek help. That advantage gives us the opportunity to catapult our own children and the next generation.