Interrupted: The Plight of Mental Illness in the Black Community

blogI was diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Disorder and Manic Depression at the age of 15. After suffering from abuse at the hands of my mother for as long as I can remember, the state finally moved me from her custody into my grandmother’s. My grandmother couldn’t do it alone so my great aunt, my grandfather and my godmother helped her. Loud noises still scare me to this day, I hate the dark, I get anxiety attacks when I am in a room full of people I don’t know. It took a long time to forgive my mother and I still don’t trust her. I still take one pill a day to keep the blues away. As an African American woman I have no problem admitting that I used to be ashamed of my mental health. Why? Because mental illness is very stigmatized in the black community. The black church telling the congregation “Depression is a sin”, “medication is not of God” “God is your healer” blah blah blah blah…. Causing African Americans battling mental illness to suffer in silence which overwhelms them causing suicide. Once suicide takes place everyone asks the same question, “What went wrong”? The clue was sitting right there in front of them but they just chose not to acknowledge it.

My mother had decided to give her life to God and change it for the better. She made the mistake of thinking that just because her life changed the other lives that she impacted would change for the better too. Like all would be forgotten and we would all move on like one big happy family. I remember how insulted I felt when she said “Well, the past has gone away. Jesus heals so you don’t need to see a therapist”. She became so upset when I told her that just because she can just forget how she hurt others in her past, doesn’t mean the rest of us can”. Brothers and sisters, please stop suppressing your hurt and pain and get help. If not for yourself,  for whatever it is you find yourself living for. Just like your life, your mental health matters and is important. Don’t be ashamed to take a pill to balance the serotonin in your brain. Don’t be ashamed to sit down and speak with a therapist or psychologist so you can pull the hurt out by the root and start healing. I did it. So can you.


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