Why our mental health matters

Jul 31, 2020
Written by
India Lee
Photographed by
A

n intense heaviness glues me to the bed as I open my eyes most mornings. Thoughts of worry, guilt, shame, fear, isolation and responsibility run rampant in my mind. Usually followed by the feeling of wanting to hide, disappear or self medicate. Soon after I peel myself up and my feet touch the floor, I tap into my routine of morning meditation, affirmations and sometimes playing a Tibetan singing bowl. These practices ease my mind in the moment as well as become my armor to combat any adversity with a sense of clarity.

When the world was “normal” I had to work diligently to maintain a healthy state of mind. Apparently, I am not alone. According to the American Psychiatric Association, “Mental health conditions are common, impacting 1 in 5 adults – nearly 47 million Americans.”(American Psychiatric Association, 2019) Now that we have less events, obligations and access, we are left to confront the darkest corners of our minds.

People have been ill and many of us have lost loved ones, whom we haven't been able to properly honor with official services and goodbyes. It is truly heartbreaking. Not to mention the people who are self quarantining alone or those in abusive homes, who already suffer from severe anxiety and/or depression. The list could go on.

Then to top off our fragility during these times, we watch George Floyd get executed right on our phones. Anyone with a heart felt for this man. When he called out for his Mama, I cried. I am a Black mother of sons. I turned it off, I couldn't watch. The uprising that followed reminded me of the generational trauma that has plagued my family in particular. My biological father’s absence along with my mother’s severe anxiety that created an air of tension in our home.

People wonder why we shout “Black Lives Matter”, because they do. Our mental health matters. As long as we ignore the history that is ingrained in the epigenetics of Black families, many of us will continue to suffer. I know that by actively working to stabilize my mental health, I am contributing to the transformation needed to heal my children and my children’s children.

We can’t change the minds of people who dislike us based on the color of our skin, but we can change the way we see ourselves. We can work with our allies to change laws to protect our lives. We can recognize the impact our history has had on the mental health of our parents, grandparents and us. We can decide what we want to do to heal and inspire healthy practices of mental health in the families we create.

This has been our wake up call. Our lives and mental health matter. You can find me on instagram @thesagewithin

American Psychiatric Association. (2019). ​Mental Health 2020: A Presidential Initiative for Mental Health.​[PDF file]. Retrieved from file:///C:/Users/17325/Downloads/Mental-Health-2020-A-Presidential-Initiative-for-Mental-Health %20(3).pdf

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