By DaiJhah Owens
Now and then, I take a break from writing about politics or social issues. Once in a while, I’ll give y’all a little something different, something more personal. This is one of those times. Mental health continues to be one of those topics that just isn’t taken seriously enough, especially in the black community. While we have made huge strides towards mental health awareness over the years, especially in my millennial generation, we still have a ways to go. So, I’m sure you can imagine how hard it is talking about a specific mental health diagnosis. PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) is typically reserved for men and women who have served in the military, but I didn’t realize how far-reaching PTSD truly is.
After my accident a few years ago (read my previous blog “Suffering with Grace” for reference), I struggled deeply with bad dreams, flashbacks, phantom pain, and anxiety. It was hard for me to do anything without thinking about what happened to me. It wasn’t until I was diagnosed with PTSD that things started to make sense. Although it’s been five years since the accident, I still struggle with this every day.
PTSD is a very lonely experience. It’s hard to explain to anyone because you barely understand it yourself. The most random things can trigger you. You feel out of control and anxious all the time. You also feel ashamed because you feel like you should be over this by now. Your afraid people won’t take you seriously, that they’re tired of hearing about the same thing. So in silence, you sit, hoping one day someone will come to save you.
PTSD is more prevalent among Black women than we realize. You don’t have to have served to suffer from it. Because Black Women are more likely to experience violence of many sorts, we are 2x’s more likely to be diagnosed with PTSD than any other race of women. Black Women have war wounds that have penetrated the soul and left us to pick up the pieces.
I personally know Black Women who have experienced unspeakable trauma. Sexual assault, domestic violence, misogynoir, accidents, abandonment, emotional abuse, poverty, workplace harassment, medical issues, familial loss, combat injuries, and the list can go on and on. These experiences don’t just leave you; your body remembers. Just because you are ready to move on from that traumatic experience doesn’t been it’s done with you. Our body, spirit, and soul keep track.
If you are like me and struggle with PTSD from a life-changing experience, you are not alone. I will always hold space for anyone who has walked through hell. If you know someone who is struggling with PTSD, hold them. Navigating this diagnosis is beyond challenging and can at times be embarrassing. Having someone there, who may not fully understand, but holds your hand through it anyway, can make a world of difference. Lastly, seek professional help. I have a fantastic therapist (who is also a badass Black Woman) who can walk with me through my triggers and provide me with resources and skills to cope.
There is no complete cure for PTSD; this is a battle that will rage until the good Lord calls me home. However, there are treatments out there that can help make it less debilitating. Check out the links below to get connected to a Black Therapist near you. And remember, Peace is attainable even as the fight continues.
DaiJhah Owens is a Contributing Writer for the Pedestal Project, LLC. DaiJhah is passionate about shifting political power to oppressed groups through education. She believes there is nothing more powerful than an educated black woman who can smell political BS a mile away! Connect with her on Instagram at @d_nakhole!