My State of Mind

My State of Mind

Overview

The lyrics of the song by John Legend, “My heads under water but I’m breathing fine…” resonates vividly with me as I recall, all too candidly, my experiences of “the pain not diagnosed.” I can read about others affliction of mental illness or the pain not diagnosed. But it is my own story, my own real life drama that I can relate to with intimacy. The lyrics… “It’s like a jungle outside, it makes me wonder how I keep from going under… don’t push me cause I’m close to the edge, I’m trying not to lose my head…” reminds me when I questioned if my sanity was going to last another day.
The poet Paul Laurence Dunbar wrote, “We wear the mask that grins and lies that hides our cheeks and shades our eyes.” Many in our nation, especially African -Americans, wear the mask. When we peek/speak/tweet from behind the mask we realize, yet if we were real, we would have to acknowledge in the words of Paul Lawrence Dunbar that to make a poet Black and bid her sing is to challenge her and her two realities. In the words of Mother Maya, “I know why the caged bird sings”.
No one has to read my stories of depression and thoughts of suicide. I can recall my own instantly. No one has to explain to me what self -doubt, rejection and guilt feels like. I have a trunk load of my own. No one has to share their frustrations of not having anywhere to go, or no one to go to for help, relief or a referral. Been there, done that and I too came up empty. No one can explain to me better than me what it looks like to wear the mask of “My heads under water but I’m breathing fine!” I lost track of the times I woke -up or just got -up from a sleepless night, looked in the mirror at someone I did not recognize, with tear filled eyes and quoted, “Okay, time to put on your game-face!”
I do not have a choice; I have to confront this issue of depression, mental illness, so I and my sisters can be set free from it!
Every single day, yes EVERY SINGLE DAY I hear stories from my sisters, their sisters and their sisters, about the weights of this world. Most sistas believing they must bare these weights and must bare them alone.
We have far too long echoed the voices that carry undue weights and attached stigmas if we do not echo them. “If my mamma can handle it, so can I.” “I’m a strong Black Woman, I don’t need no help.” “Put on ya big girl panties.” “Real Women do this or don’t do that.” “I’m not weak.” “Shake it off and keep movin.” “A pretty smile can cover it all.” “Don’t tell.” “You just have to take it.” “Mamma said there will be days like this.” “Hold ya head up, push ya shoulders back and keep steppin.”
The voices from the flesh continue. Some mean well, that’s what they were told by their love ones. I’m wondering who started that chain… Perhaps it was a survival tool, then. Now we have different tools, tools of faith, therapy, medicinal, and rest.
I believe in praying without ceasing. One of my gifts is an encourager. However, ignoring medicinal help that could assist my sister -girl is not being a sister -friend at all.
I choose to listen to the voices of faith. And because I do I cannot sit by while mental illness and depression robs my sisters and me of our abilities to reflect on our, and appreciate our, self -worth, especially because it does not have too. We are already equipped to dismantle the stigma and move in health, recovery and preventative!
I will stay steadfast as a reminder that our shoulders are not a resting place for the world, a wake -up call for others that our beauty and greatness will not be stagnated. Our growth and creativeness will not be hindered. Our rights of equality will not be stifled and our dreams and potentials will not be
extinguished.
Our faces of mental illness will be seen, our voices of pain will be heard and responded to. As a people, as a nation, as a world, we MUST stop this devastating epidemic of depression, mental illness, that plaques us for no other reason than to destroy us.
We are meant to live and live abundantly. Not casted down, trampled on, baring the world on our shoulders, hiding from our pain, and fearful of seeking help. No, contrary, living in abundance means giving our burdens over, walking into the marvelous light, and seeking so we may find. We have to be mindful, “we do not have the spirit of fear, but of power, love, and a sound mind!
We have chemical imbalances that make us feel more intensely. Dare we use what we got, to get what we want and need… Be encouraged my sisters! Feel intensely the need to get up, step up, act, plant and discover our greatness, our gifts. Know that our voices of pain, our faces of struggle are not forgotten or dismissed. Let us use our intensity to create an urgency of dispelling the stigma of depression and mental illness. Then, play it forward!
By, Regina Geames
Visionary Creator, BHEIRS