By Quasha Ross
A few weeks ago, I called my health provider to determine if they had resources for mental health. You would think that with all of the money they take out of my check every two weeks, they would have something to help out a sista’s mental, but they didn’t.
I searched for resources because there are many moments when I need someone to talk to who isn’t a friend or family member. At times, I need someone who will listen and not interject with a personal anecdote or unsolicited advice. Sometimes, I want to vent without feeling like I’m dumping all of my emotional baggage onto someone else who’s dealing with their baggage.
Then I began to think about black women specifically. I think of the women who would rather be home with their children, nurturing them, but they have to work a 9 to 5 to take care of the home. In addition to working that 9 to 5, the job is either physically or mentally draining. In addition to it being drained, the drama in the workplace is an entire therapy session in itself. Sometimes, we need someone to talk to.
And then when we do find a friend to vent to, sometimes that sensitive information blows up in our faces if we aren’t careful. Sometimes that information gets recycled through the grapevine, and then we lose trust in people and regret being open in the first place.
We’re too proud to take a mental health day, so we continue our 5 am, 6 am, 7 am, and 8 am mornings. Usually, we are rising early to arrive at a place that is, ultimately, the reason why we need a therapist.
We make excuses about why we can’t talk out our issues with a stranger. In the black community, you will constantly hear this phrase, “what goes on in our house stays in our house.” This saying keeps us black women AND men jailed inside our minds, afraid to organize the constantly weighing thoughts and hold us back.
I went searching for a therapist because my mind never rests; it’s always racing. I’m the person who rarely vents, but I’m always listening to others vent about their hardships. And now, my cup is empty, and that was the motivation for searching for therapy; I needed to replenish somehow.
When you realize that there are things you can’t figure out by yourself, there are people to help. Mental health isn’t something you work on by just venting to a friend or family member. You have to learn how to work through certain hardships in life. Sometimes it may not even be hardships, but maybe you’re evolving into someone you need to become more acquainted with.
I’m proud of myself for recognizing that I need professional help, not because I’m crazy, but because there are some things inside of me that I need to deal with on a professional level. I wish that more people in the black community would recognize that they need professional help instead of walking around with mental health issues and trying to cope in ways that could potentially be dangerous.
Here are a few tips for maintaining your mental health:
- Use your paid time off (PTO) / Vacation Time – Take a mental health day; you deserve it.
- Therapy – Find an affordable therapist.
- Journal – Write down your moods and document how you’re feeling each day.
- Meditate – Get quiet and process your thoughts and feelings.
- Unplug – Avoid social media, cell phones, and the internet. This gives you a chance to process how you’re feeling without outside influences.
- Don’t overcommit – Say no to things you genuinely don’t want to do or don’t have the time to do.
Lastly, it’s ok not to be a superwoman. We don’t always have the capacity to save everything or everyone in our paths. Honestly, some of us are barely hanging in there ourselves. Protect your mental health at all costs, even if that means holding others accountable for managing their feelings.
Quasha Ross is a contributing writer for the Pedestal Project, LLC. She’s a creative writer who believes writing is a true art form. Find Quasha on Instagram @quashaross_