By: Ariel Swopes
Although anyone can develop a mental health issue, black women may experience more trauma due to not acknowledging their mental needs. A focus on mental health is practically non existent when it comes to black women because they are too busy carrying the world on their shoulders, forgetting that they make up the continents too.
Trying to uphold the title of being the “strong black woman” is interfering deeply with black women’s mental health. But confessing that there is something wrong is something black women struggle with. The black woman is a natural provider among other things, but she’s also a silent sufferer. She suffers in silence because culturally, all she knows is how to be strong for everyone else while neglecting to put herself first.
I can relate to being silent because of my own mental health issues. Not wanting to confide in anyone because I didn’t want to appear weak. But soon I learned that it was okay not to be okay. After recognizing this, I asked myself If I was alright with not being okay forever; so I started using a journal to convey my emotions. It was an affordable coping mechanism for me. There was something so therapeutic about flowing out my thoughts on to the paper. Soon my notepad became my best friend and my pen became my healer.
Black women have been programmed to believe that harboring feelings is equivalent to being strong, but that’s a flawed statement. Expressing your emotions and feeling your feelings is not a sign of weakness. In fact, true strength is when you can acknowledge your feelings unashamed and unapologetically. Strength is when you can process your emotions first, then take the next necessary steps you need for your mental wellness. Strength is admitting that everything is not okay. But it will be because you deserve to be truthful to yourself. You deserve healing. You deserve peace.