Is it Possible to be Black, Female, and Mentally Stable?
Looking over my To-do list today I got a reminder to schedule my appointment with my therapist and I recounted the many conversations with my female friends about why they didn’t think therapy was for them or why they didn’t “ have time” for it. I often advocate for seeking professional help but get the most push back from young, black women.
When I personally get asked how I’m doing I often answer with my blanket statement of Fine.
Fine means instead of the million things running through my mind which I don’t have the capacity or time to run through with you right now I will just give this generic message that most are willing to take because they aren’t really that interested in my mental health anyways.
You would think we would flock to therapy when we live in a world where we are expected to shoulder so much from kids, jobs, relationships, and internal traumas daily. Then you add in the visual trauma we experience with the murders of our men and children being televised and plastered on SM, the pressure to both assimilate (straighten our hair and hide our curves in the workplace), and settle (making less in our careers despite being the most educated by race and gender in the country), and the continued breakdown of the family structure resulting in black women taking on more roles in the household than they should have to and you have a mental firestorm that so many black women feel is their job to handle alone without complaint. We shoulder never really having a break which in itself is tough, with an upbringing that tells us we must always be strong and endure no matter what when in reality your ability to endure is not what makes you a strong woman. And the sick part of it is WE TAKE PRIDE IN IT!!
We proclaim everyday how great we are for being so strong when in reality we have very little choice in the matter and if given a chance would GLADLY put some of those burdens down.
So now that we have explored the tip of the iceberg of the black female experience my title question still stands, Can you be black, female, and mentally stable? Every day you have to be strong, educated, working on a small waist, managing skin from the cocoa Gawds, be independent but willing to put up with drama while learning to submit, calmly and professionally enduring the micro aggressions of white people, tolerating the fetishizing of everything you wear, be a great mother , friend, and spouse, all while remembering to make time for yourself, taking care of your skin ( yes I keep mentioning skin because it’s vital) , and trying not to crumble under the weight of the needs of everyone around you who you are expected to put before your own.
You tired yet cuz I am! Lol
I’ll be honest I can’t even give a clear definition of what sane looks like in 2019. But in an effort obtain my own version of sanity and peace I have devised 3 steps I follow in order to keep my head above water in this crazy world and while it may or may not be possible to achieve complete sanity as a black woman in America you can form you own safe spaces of happiness. Get ready because these are the easiest yet hardest things for me to do but trust me they work!
The FIRST thing I do is a daily disconnect. By disconnect I mean metaphorically and physically. I take time every day free of all devices, and people to decompress void of external stimulation. It doesn’t have to be long but simply clearing your “gates” so to speak and just being quiet, not looking or interacting with anyone or anything can do wonders.
The SECOND thing I do is embrace honesty. That may seem silly but being honest with yourself and those closest to you is so important. Being honest with myself about my needs, wants, and limitations (this is a BIG one) keeps me from over extending myself or worse being disappointed in myself when I can’t get it all done ( I tend to be hard on myself). This honesty also allows those around you to give you either space or support as needed which is critical in stopping the habit of “ carrying it all alone” and stops the perpetuation of carrying every burden equating to your strength as a black woman.
My LAST gem is my biggest and most difficult to do, you ready? lol FORGIVE! Forgiving yourself daily for any mistakes you made is critical for mental wellness in a world designed to beat you down. I’ve found that if during my “disconnect” time I take a moment to OUTLOUD ( and in the mirror if possible ) , forgive myself for every moment that I was short with someone, didn’t listen, was critical of myself or others instead of constructively assessing, or any other “wrong” I feel lighter and calmer, which allows me to be mentally prepared for the rest of my day or I sleep better when done at night.
Whew! That was hard right? lol I’m kidding but seriously just those small things can feel like a mountain to the always connected, always available, weight of the world carrying woman of the world. Those three steps may not stop you from wanting to choke your co-worker and may even bring you to tears when done after a particularly tough day but trust me just those few steps allow you to put down the baggage of the day before picking up anything else and aid in recharging your batteries so that you are ready to conquer the world all over again!
Being a woman is hard, but being a Black woman is to stand on the edge of the mountain and shout for the world to hear that you bones are strong, your skin is kissed by the sun, your heart is pure, your mind is has been strengthened by generations of way- makers, and your resolve is unmatched by any other being on this planet! You got this Queen! Our minds are our most powerful weapons so it is our duty to keep them sharp! Love each other, support each other, protect each other, and when you think you can't do it lean on me sis I got you...
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