Shedding the Stigma

Recently, I tuned into an episode of Braxton Family Values (don’t judge me). Iyanla VanZandt was brought in to help the family as they have been in conflict. One of the questions she asked members of the family was to describe their personal family values.  The response that resonated with me was “what goes on in this house, stays in this house.”  Immediately I thought of my own rearing and childhood.  I would definitely expect to be scolded if it was discovered I was airing out the family’s dirty laundry amongst outsiders. I guess that was the official mantra of black families. 

Sweeping issues under the rug has been a slow killer of families for generations.  The mere thought of potentially shaming oneself and or family is suffocating and frightens us to the point where we become mute or numb. This in turns ravishes our spirits leaving us broken, unresolved which directly affects the relationships we have with others. Because our issues are not dealt with appropriately, it causes us to carry on the curse of secrecy and covering the wound instead of healing it. A band-aid can only shield a cut or bruise but it’s the ointment applied to the area of affliction that makes it whole. And we all need the balm.

Mental Illness was not something mentioned around my house growing up. If we saw someone who fell prey to depression or suffering from anxiety, it was labeled as “white folk problems.” As black folk, we didn’t have time for that and refused to identify with it.  Some would even argue that black people have too much pride to be vulnerable. We can’t afford to show any signs of weakness to white people. For if we did, it would lend itself to the catalyst confirming our inferiority to white people.

This life we live is not easy.  Some of us have to deal with crazy folks on our jobs, bad ass kids, racial inequality, sexism, putting up with our partners, mounting bills, and not to mention 45 and his imps. This shit is crazy and sometimes it becomes more than we can bear. At times, you want to throw in the towel because you don’t have the strength to press your way. Maybe someone from your past hurt you in some capacity and you’re still wrestling with that thing.  The sad fact is you’re not alone. Mr. Uncle Chris comes to bring you the good news which is, it’s okay to say I’m going through something or I’m tired. I am weak. I don’t know where to turn! PLEASE HELP ME! My ass is mutha fuckin tired of this shit. 

We have to shed the stigma that mental illness doesn’t affect us or that it’s not real.  Mental Illness can come in the form of anxiety, panic attacks, depression, thoughts of suicidal, low self-esteem and so much more. It has no respector of persons. One or more of these things have knocked on my door a time or two. They waltz their asses right on in without being invited. It’s time out for evading the problems and denying we’re not susceptible to this disease. Let me preface by this saying this, I love God but you can’t pray everything away. We’ll come back to that later.

I encourage you to do whatever you have to do to set yourself free. If looks like exercising, seeing a therapist, taking the proper medication, natural supplements, or even meditating do it! You only have this one life and it’s fleeting so do what you can to minimize the stress and enjoy your time here on this planet.