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I’ve been interviewing therapists and counselors and organizers in the mental health community for the second season of “Sick Empire,” a podcast that I host.
One thought that keeps coming up in these conversations is how, even the most privileged Black Americans, can’t avoid receiving the hate, the blatant and off-handed comments and the overall toxic behaviors deeply embedded in white American culture.
I feel the feelings. I can’t lie. I can’t pretend racism is not the center of everything that moves my world.
So, I’ve been to therapy. I found it helpful, relieving and cleansing. However, I only started going to therapy when I felt bad. A cliche! It’s like pulling up to the church house when your life is in shambles and you want God to remember you exist.
However, it’s time to re-think that strategy. This year has tested everyone but has especially tested Black women and folx of color. With police shootings, COVID-19 and old fashioned bigotry in the White House, we need to be proactive about scheduling appointments and talking to clinical therapists about our mental health.
Here are five reasons Black folx need mental health check-ups, even if we are feeling ‘okay’:
1.Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome
The idea that Black Americans experience PTSD from generations curses developed during slavery. I realized that I had some forms of this when I was younger and I would overreact over the smallest, most petty things. I can’t say the same is for all Black women, however, if this sounds familiar I encourage you to explore the idea of PTSD in therapy, (there have been some points that really resonated with me in the book, ‘Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome’ by Dr. Joy DeGruy).
- Watching Black Citizens Be Murdered By Police Officers Is Not Normal
We witness it every month. No other race is subjected to this type of trauma except Black folx. We are not superhuman and watching and re-watching our brothers and sisters be murdered without justice being served can affect us in ways we do not understand or even realize.
- Internalized Self-hate
Being a descendent of a group of people who experienced horrors of the slave-trade, Reconstruction era, Jim Crow laws, the crack epidemic and mass incarceration comes with invisible toxic traits that we can be immersed in and not even realize we are immersed in them.
- Because Our Elders And Parents Didn’t Have The Access That We Do Now
Normalizing therapy and holistic retreats and yoga and healthier diets is new in the hood. Our ancestors, grandparents and even some of our parents did not have the luxury of healing themselves from the mental exhaustion of being Black in America. It’s an ode to the survivors. I believe that bettering ourselves mentally and spiritually is all our ancestors ever wanted for us.
- Getting A Good Therapist Who Fits Your Unique Needs Takes Time
Starting early on the path of finding a new or first-time therapist is a benefit in so many ways, especially if you feel ‘good.’ You’ll be able to think clearly about yourself, your needs, and test out who is best for you. Start now, and when times get really real, you have your ace boon coon to turn to.