It’s been a little while since my chat with you and I’ve stayed safe since talking to you. I’ve also been seeing the posts about BIPOC mental health and it’s great the safe space that you’ve created within the confines you have. Being in the BIPOC community while suffering from a mental health disorder…it’s a hard balance sometimes. It’s not easy to be written off as crazy..it’s actually debilitating. To know that you are suffering in a large family silently because no one wants to notice, no one wants to delve that deep into an emotion. Having to fake thick skin is hard in front of strangers so imagine doing so in front of family, people who “know” you inside out. To be emotionally available around emotionally unavailable people, it forces me to ask how we can break this and how far do we have to go to do it.
I’ve thought back to the last 7 months of this year and it’s not easy to grasp what has happened, dealing with a global pandemic while watching our communities divided. It makes me wonder what life would have been like had it not been for these defining moments. Would life have been harder or easier for me? Would have I been grieving the loss of a loved one from a car accident rather than them being safe at home quarantined with me? Would have I been having a great time driving around with friends rather than getting tear-gassed at a protest? Would I have been on my knees begging for a reason to stay in this world while I held a bottle of pills in my hand?
I don’t have those answers but I’ve been lucky enough to find help. To know that there’s a mental health clinic down the street from me that counts on me to show up for my appointments. So many of us are not. So many of us in the black and POC communities aren’t lucky enough to have clinics, to have professionals at our reach because of the direct correlation between socioeconomic status and the decline in mental health, how the closer we are to poverty, the less access we have. We’re lucky to be able to speak honestly to primary doctors.
Yeah, it’s been pretty hard these last few months. It’s always felt like the whole world looks at me like I have a giant neon-green light over my head that flashes depression..eating disorder…anxiety and everyone knows it. Now it feels like I’m looked at, their eyes go wide and they shy away because I’m part of the BIPOC community, following the protests. “Don’t just look at me, don’t just step aside. Don’t feel sorry for us, don’t hide our history. Say something, stand with me! Because this way of thinking is not correct!” It’s a double whammy.
The mental health stigma is a disease. It spreads quickly, silently, and it’s swift down to the point of denial—so in unison to what’s transpired in 2020, very much like COVID-19, very much to the public, filmed display of racism.
I want to thank you Alex first, for reaching out like you said you would after the chat. Secondly, for being there and acknowledging that mental health and BIPOC coexist and it’s very real. Also, for reminding us that we can make light out of fire when we thought it was smothered out. Those words may still flash above me, but at least I know it’s not the only words that can.
*If you or someone you know is in crisis, start a chat with one of our trained volunteers here.