I spent this morning writing for TELL magazine on mental health. It made sense because for whatever reason, I had spent the last week pensive. I was inspired to write about mental health also because on Iain Lee’s late night show on Talk Radio, mental health came up. So it made sense for me to write about mental health. As I write this, I am listening to an audio on faith and fear.
I feel more inclined to write about mental health especially given that in Black African communities, we tend not to talk about it. We are much into appearances. We spend a lot of time making people think we have life figured out. It is unclear why we feel we must be strong all the time, even when we need support. We tend to hide under the banner of prayer and religion – the Christians amongst us that is- instead of confronting and dealing with symptoms of low mood, anger, loneliness, depression and low self-esteem.
The more we talk about our mental health, the better we feel. Let’s try it, how are you? How are you really feeling? Are you happy? Sad? Tired? Sick? Upset? Why? Are you looking forward to work tomorrow? Or not? Why?
Admitting things are not okay is the first step. We need to admit that something is not right within especially if you have been feeling lethargic. We need to feel comfortable when we say its okay not to be okay. It is nothing to be ashamed of. Perhaps, you have spent the last week or month secretly miserable, perhaps you have been let down by your key people and its gotten you down. Perhaps, you didn’t get the job of your dreams or you have been rejected by people you assumed would embrace you, perhaps your long term relationship just broke down. Whatever is causing your sadness at the moment won’t pass until you deal with it. Yes. Deal. With. It. Don’t stay sad, lonely, miserable, angry. Come out of it. A friend recently discussed with me the experience of defending clients who had been sectioned under the Mental Health Act. One thing was very clear, mental health disorders do not discriminate. Anyone can suffer from depression, panic attack or from any other mental health issues. Any one. White, black, Asian, Pink with purple stripes, any one. A couple of years ago, a woman whom I met through at a networking event told me about her struggle with post-natal depression. As I never experienced it, I now know that it was bold and brave of her to share what she was going through. I hope she is okay now. Many people suffer post-natal depression, depression fueled by difficult relationships and the uncertainly of life.
Some of us are over whelmed by the simply business of daily living. Relationships break down, our children weary us, our finances stress us out, we hate the work we do. We hate our daily grind. We hate our bodies and we hate ourselves. Over time, this wears us down. This affects us initially in little ways, then over time, it takes its toil. We turn to food, alcohol, drugs and illicit relationships. Over time, we then suffer from the consequences of obesity or from drugs over dose. We need to pay attention to our mental wellbeing.
We need to understand when we don’t feel right within ourselves. We need to remember that we are never alone. Whatever the challenge, there is nothing new under the sun. People have overcome worse. You can get through this. Whatever it is. The most important thing you can do for yourself is to love you. Empower you. Do what you need to do to begin to enjoy life again. Life is always worth living.
Twitter: @Tundun Adeyemo