Tag Archives: mental health

Disentangled

On so many forefronts of my life, I find myself being disengaged, detached and disentangled.

The truth is the unaddressed traumas of life will always linger and subconsciously work to change the ways you view people, the way you operate and may very much influence the next stage(s) of your life.

Sometimes I am so sad, another time I am nonchalant and other times I just want to be left alone by everyone and everything.

How have I recognized that I have changed?

  • For a while I have no interest to talk on the phone or even in person with friends, acquaintances or even strangers.
  • I have outgrown certain themes and topics that usually excite or interest me.
  • I communicate very minimally with others- I hardly keep in touch.
  • I make priorities in regards to what I do or can do for others.
  • I am an avid practiitoner of “once bitten, twice shy.”
  • Lastly, I have learned to say no and put myself first at all times.

I do acknowledge that not all my newly acquired behaviors are healthy or helpful. But recognizing my evolvement is one step towards consciously knowing and accepting that I have grown in some form of way.

There is so much trauma that is still left unravelled and unaddressed. And my anxiety sets in when the world seems as though it is about to cave in.

I, however, know that at some point I have to stop to address all these hurt, pain, disappointments, injustice and heartbreak.

But I will leave all of those for another day.

Triggers

Off the top of my head, triggers can be anything ranging from a person(s), behavior or objects that causes a reaction that affects our mental being.

One of the important tenets of understanding our mental fragility is to recognize our triggers. If we know our triggers, or even know a few of our triggers, we may be able to know what to avoid. Knowing our triggers is also crucial in helping us know why we are in a distressful state. Most importantly, triggers will help us to know what mechanisms we need to employ in order to start feeling better.

So what happens when I am triggered?

As someone who is ever so helpful, I am oftentimes overwhelmed when too many people are looking to me for help. The pressure of thinking everyone is relying on me elicits emotions of distress and anxiety.

To be honest not all the time I am able to know that I am triggered or what exactly causes me to be in a certain mental state.

However, at times I feel myself wanting to be in isolation, my sleeping pattern is disrupted, and I prefer to lie in bed all day without interacting with anyone.

The increase of such patterns always let me know that something is resting on my mental psyche. And the best part is, I do let myself wallow in my depression and anxiety.

Sometimes we all need a break and personal space.

People and life can be overwhelming.

But as I grow and learn more about myself, I realize that I have adopted certain actions or refrain from certain actions and relationships that will cause me to feel depressed.


Certainly, life is unpredictable and uncontrollable so I am not always able to take control of the circumstances that I experience.


But here are a few things that I have done to help me when I am triggered or to prevent me from being triggered:

  • I refrain from being in constant contact with people who always seem to need from me.
  • I refrain from having relationships that are parasitic.
  • I refrain from being amongst people who always have negative things to say and who want to convince me that the worse things are good for me.
  • I do not associate myself with those who will whisper all the bad and negative things others have said about me.
  • When I am triggered, I try to change my chain of thoughts (not to happy thoughts) but to understand what I am going through and see what I can do to start feeling better.
  • I also take the time to feel the pain, hurt, sadness and anger before trying to work on feeling positive emotions.

Despite what we are facing and going through, I know some days are better than some.

And the truth is we all have days of feeling low.

Sometimes we prefer not to feel our pain, hurt and are scared to embrace our diminished mental state, but we should all remember that we are all human. And while we can aspire and work towards perfection, no one is perfect and nobody’s life is perfect.

So do not beat yourself up too much when you are going through a low time. Always remember there is hope and while our current distress may seems like forever evrything in this life is temporary.

Forgiveness

In one of our weekly zoom meetings, I was reminded that forgiveness is really for one’s self and not for the other person.

This statement has resonated with me.

At first glance, the phrase seems to echo the opposite as we always stress how much those who have wronged us need to be forgiven. However, upon further elaboration it was highlighted that forgiveness lifts a burden that persons would normally bear when they hold on to the hurt and pain others have caused them.

As I sit and write, I feel at peace because I am truly align to only those who bring happiness, tranquility and good will to my life. I have mastered the heart of accepting forgiveness as a part of my personal traits through practicing self-expression, acceptance and knowing that from time to time there will be people who will disappoint me.

At times, I have given so much to those (not my family-sadly) around me that I am always so hung up on the pain, hurt and disappointments. I have helped not with the intention of being given the same treatment but like any other human sometimes I am deeply affected by the unreliability of those who I have helped- especially when it comes to my turn.

A few years ago, I encountered a disappointment from someone who I believed I am always there for no matter how inconvenient their needs were to me. And in that very moment, I was filled with anger and bitterness because I felt as if when I really needed that person to be there they blatantly refused to.

And in a lengthy conversation, in which I deliberated about the unfairness of the world and the selfish nature of people, with my younger sibling, I came to the conclusion that I should not be fuming but instead I should feel disappointed- it is a better form of human self-expression.

But how do you handle disappointments?

The most profound human action to disappointments is that when we are left in the cold we should begin to treat others callously. We develop mistrust in others and grow to see the bad in everyone.

However, after my long conversation I decided that I did not want to be like that because when I am in that mode, I am filled with so much anger and rage. I felt hurt and all that pain was channeled into a heavy burden that made me feel sorrowful and cold towards the world.

This is the exact feeling I have (and you will have) when I have not forgiven people.

In essence, forgiveness is really for you and not for those who have caused you pain.

At some point we have to accept that it is easier to take people for who they are, understand that from time to time those who we hold dearest to us may disappoint us and finally forgive and move on.

No one wants to be enraged 24/7 or to be walking around with a heavy burden because he/she is filled with hatred and bitterness from the pain someone else has caused.

Going forward, let this be the day that you mend the fences that are possible and you get closure to those that are irreparable. I will never say forgive and forget as the human mind does not work like that- unless you have Dementia or Alzheimer’s.

So take the time to wallow in your pain, disappointments and injustice and then when you have had enough forgive so that you can rise like the Phoenix.

However it may seem, I’m not obligated

Kindness and assistance can be rare commodities because the world is never always amiable to us. Hence, it is of utmost importance to let others know that we are grateful and express gratitude whenever someone offer us assistance in any form.

The thing, however, is that sometimes dependency on others, can give rise to relations based on obligation.

I know for some people, obligation and help do not have any correlation. On the contrary, there are situations in which people allow those who they have helped to feel as though they are forever indebted to them- this is the type of obligation I speak of.

Being raised in the Caribbean, obligation is sometimes evident within some parental relations.

It is the norm for mothers and fathers to take care of their children. However, when you have reached a certain age and start to earn income there may be certain indicators, which suggest that it is the children’s turn to start taking care of their parents.

The obligated riddled parental relationship is usually expressed through reverse psychology, guilt trips and blatantly telling the child/ children how many sacrifices were made so that they could be in the position they are today.

There is also another form of obligation that comes with being helped in our social relationships.

Yes! Our friends may very well be there for us in our times of need. But not every friend will let your thank you be enough. You may get a reminder in the form of jokes, in private whispers behind your back or even blatantly to your face.


However, there is a deeper issue that comes with the whole notion of obligation and help.

The person who feels obligated is oftentimes overwhelmed, stressed, anxious and even depressed. There is a heavy burden as one person is trapped in the idea that he/she always has to say yes or be there because he/she was given help.

As such, the onus is upon the obligated person to channel his/her captive emotions to freedom. There has to be a point in which you, as the obligated person, realize that you are grateful (hopefully) for whatever was offered to you or for whatever was done on your behalf.

This will be your first step towards breaking the ties of your parasitic relationships.

You have to know that it is acceptable to say no or not to show up if it is literally not possible. Do not inconvenient yourself solely because you feel as though you have no choice.

There is always a choice.

And the best part is, the moment you detach yourself from the feelings of obligation begotten through help, you will have your peace of mind. The burden you once feel will be irrevocably removed from your life.

I also know that sometimes when you make the decision to stop feeling and acting obligated it may start an inner fight. But always remember that:

“Detachment, sometimes it’s necessary in order to restore your sanity. [And] Your peace of mind.” – Anonymous

The Black Woman and The Weight on her Shoulders

There is so much stigma when it comes on to the expectation of who the black woman should be. For those who are black and a woman, if someone should ask you to describe who you are as a black woman, what would you say? I am sure that some of the words that you would use are: strong, powerful, beautiful, sexy, subservient, angry and resilient.

Angela Neal- Barrett (PhD) sums up the renowned characteristics of a black woman as being ‘The Strong Black Woman,” “The Angry Black Woman” and “The Jezebel/Video Vixen.” The first two adjectives are pretty straightforward. The latter may not be so plain sailing but for those who do not know it describes the black woman as a sexual being.

But are we only those things? Are we only capable of being those things? Why should it be rewarding to only be those things? Most importantly, why should we be ashamed to be vulnerable, depressed and speak about the burdensome circumstances that we have endured?

In fact, there are many studies that have conclude that black women are underrepresented in regards to addressing their mental health issues.

Today, I will no longer neglect the fact that many black women are suffering mentally.

As a black woman, have you ever wondered how it is so easy to sit with all of your friends and speak about your toxic relationship, about the man you are keeping who belongs to someone else or even the girl you are planning to attack?

It is, however, not so easy to sit and express to ALL of your same friends the things that keep you up at nights. To share with them how powerless, depressed and anxious you feel.

And someone somewhere may be saying, why do you have to bare it all to your friends. What about your family? The heart-wrenching truth is that while as a black person we say and act on the premise of family before others or family being everything, we are the first to hide our self-loathing and struggles from our family.

We do this because we are scared of their judgment. We do this because we fear how it may affect their perception of us. We do this because we are afraid that instead of advice we are given ultimatums.

Worse, if you are from a Caribbean background like myself, some of the first responses after self-expression to friends and family are usually nothing is wrong with you or why are you so dramatic or, the one I hate the most, there is someone somewhere who is going through worse situations than you.

Support like these will definitely push a turtle back in its shell.

In todays world, we have to be more mindful of the silent cry from our ‘strong,’ ‘angry’ and ‘sexual’ black women. Do not sweep the cry for help under our rugs because we think nothing should be too stressful for our friends, our mothers or our daughters. Society’s expectations of us have indeed cast a shadow on how in touch we are with our ‘negative’ emotions. But this definitely does not mean that we cannot try to start making a difference.

The most alarming thing in writing this article, is the discovery of the lack of evidence to support the topic of mental health in regards to Caribbean black women. I am sure somebody has done some research. But clearly it is so limited to the point that a search on google will take countless hours before you find a single article.

Of course, our solution does not lie in research. It lies with us. We have to start accepting that as a black woman we are not only confined to being strong, angry and sexual. We have to know that there is nothing wrong with addressing our personal struggles. We have to remove the negative stigma that is associated with seeking professional help that can save us from self-loathing and self-harm. We have to do this in order to remove the weight from our shoulders.

We should try and start today. Do it for ourselves. Do it for our children and our children’s children. I know it may sound cliche but we need to do this so that one day we may be able to break the racial and generational cycle.

Every Parent

There are many things that shape us into the person we are today. The family, however, is the first and most important source of socialization that imparts knowledge, beliefs and values.

The title alludes to one element of our family. An element that is subjective and critical in determining how we turn out to be.

So what does the title mean?

  • Every parent, biological, legal guardians or adoptive, treats their child in the way that they think is best for their well-being.
  • Every parent imparts ways, knowledge, beliefs and values that may flourish or ruin their children.

My mother was the first from whom I learned the things that I liked, hated, dreaded, wanted to emulate and was against. She was the first tangible source of all the things that I want to be and did not want to be.

Her flaws were parallel by her compassion, unmatched sacrifice and commitment. She did her best with what she learned from her parents, the life she had before me, when I was born and the challenges that she faced raising me.

Twenty-eight years later, I look back on my life and I am puzzled with what ifs. I judge her shortcomings and I wonder if things would have been different. If I would have been different. If her efforts could have been more and if they were, if they would have yielded better results.

My intention is not to talk only about mothers or about my mother. My desire is to talk about parents in general. However, in my case a mother is all I had and as such I have to speak of my parenting experience through her.

In 2015, I sat in a classroom in Garden City, NY reading Philip Larkin’s poem “This Be the Verse.” If this poem has never crossed your path, you should probably google it. It best summarizes the subjectiveness of parenting. It speaks of all the unintentional good and bad of the actions of our parents. Larkin tells us how our parents best intentions of raising us may only have turned out into “the[m] fucking [us] up.”

At a tender age we may not understand. More importantly, we will not be able to notice all the psychological ways in which our parents’ actions have affected us. Some of us may have identified the negative consequences of our parents’ attempt to raise us only when we have become adults. On the other hand, some of us may never live to know that the way we are today is as a result of how we were raised and what we were exposed to.

Nevertheless, we all should be grateful for the life we have now. We should try to fix whatever that was ruined within us on our own. We have to move on from the past by acknowledging and making peace with the fact that our parents were raising us in the best way they knew how to. Blame not our parents. Remember that whatever they did or did not do, “they may not [have] mean[t] to.”

Chanshie B