Let’s Talk Mental Health – It’s Okay To Not Be Okay
It all started back in May when I wrote about being a black woman surrounded by white privilege (blog here). I did not expect things to unfold the way they did.
This year has been a lot! The last few months have been tough for many of us around the world. Between lockdown, racism, relived/new trauma and ignorance, it has been a lot to deal with.
At the beginning of lockdown and furlough, I genuinely thought there was something wrong with me for how much I was struggling after all, society has deemed me to be this strong independent black woman who takes no rubbish. So, how was I supposed to admit to myself, never mind the world that I wasn’t coping very well especially when I had people telling me it was all in my head, that my feelings weren’t valid or that my experiences were wrong (with their own justification), when they clearly don’t know what it is like to be oppressed?
It took me a very long time to accept that I shouldn’t have to be strong every day of my life because society says so especially as many of us (black people, especially women) from birth have to deal with a life many people can’t imagine. That doesn’t mean that mine or other peoples lives are rubbish, it means that my normal as a black woman is a very different normal to a white woman. It means that my brothers normal as a black man, is very different to a white mans normal. It also means that my normal as a black woman, is completely different to a white man’s in ways most people haven’t been aware of till now.
Here’s what I’ve learned:
- Our shared experiences make us stronger
I couldn’t tell you the amount of times I’ve seen black men and women sharing stories that have resonated so much to the point where I’ve thought “so I’m not crazy”. I’m also not the only person that has made this exact comment. How mad is it that your feelings can be invalidated so much to the point where you question yourself and your feelings…
- You need a strong support system that gets you
Be honest about how you feel because there are people out there who really have your back and will help you come out of the darkest places. My friends know me very well. When my mental health is bad, I retreat. I have friends that wait a long time for a reply to texts, I have friends that check on me every day and during all of this, I have had friends that have checked up on me every week in a way they know will help and not put pressure on me. I couldn’t tell you how much I appreciate those people. It’s also taught me that not being frank about how I feel just festers in my subconscious until even my brain can’t deal with it.
- Your ally-ship matters more than you think
By educating yourselves, by speaking up for us and by promoting our work, not only are you helping to create a better future in general but you’re helping to literally change peoples lives. My whole businesses have changed out of the sheer fact people are more open to working with a black business. My products and services should have always spoken for themselves but that’s not how my world works so to have a growing community of people show their support has literally brought me to tears.
- Black lives mattering has and never will be a trend for us
Remember the black squares you saw posted? Remember the celebrities, influencers and bloggers that jumped on the hashtag and on the trend? Where are they now? Do they still share stories of oppression? Do they still speak out against injustice? Do they still show the world they are an ally? For a lot of non black people, it was exhausting and they simply moved back to their “normal”. It’s not hard to tell who really cares about making a change because they know that it’ll create a close to equal world one day.
- It’s okay to not be okay
Between lock down, life flipping upside down and the Black Lives Matter movement, it’s a lot to take in at once no matter who you are or what colour you are. It’s okay to cry, it’s okay to not want to get out of bed and it’s okay to focus on self-care. As long as you don’t let the bad consume you, you will find a way through it. If you can’t find a way through it, it’s also okay to ask for help! My dm’s are always open. I care.
Remember, the statement “Black Lives Matter” isn’t about detracting from any other movements and it isn’t a political issue. If you think it is, I urge you to get onto Google and educate yourselves because those views affect myself and every black person around the world in some way.
It’ll be interesting to see what happens in the last part of this year. Lets hope it’s a lot happier, positive and full of more education and support!