Hi, it’s me again. I wanted to get a post in before minority mental health month ends. I’ve been struggling this entire month with my mental health so I thought now would be a good time to finally open up about my struggles.
Last May I was hospitalized after a suicide attempt and diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder Type 1 with psychotic features. That basically means I swing between major depressive episodes and manic episodes (periods of extremely elevated moods). In addition, I rapid cycle meaning I cycle between these episodes extremely quickly. I could literally wake up extremely happy and energetic, spending all of my money on things I don’t need (those who have bipolar disorder have likely made a manic purchase or two) and end up stuck in bed lethargic and apathetic or weeping about my existence by 8 p.m. It’s like being stuck on a rollercoaster you just can’t get off of.
The past year has been tumultuous to say the least. In addition to struggling to accept my diagnosis, trying various meds, and continuing to cycle between various episodes, I’ve been simultaneously dealing with a separation, heartbreak, a major move, new job, caring for a special needs child, and a global pandemic. It’s safe to say things have been difficult.
If there is one thing I’ve learned throughout the process of finding stability it’s that healing is NOT linear and I AM allowed to feel weak. As a black woman it’s been engrained in me since childhood that I am not allowed to be weak. A black woman should be strong if not for herself than for those who need her. The world will not be kind to her so the only way to survive is to toughen up and accept that weakness is not an option. I can’t tell you how many times my struggles were dismissed throughout the years because others felt I was strong enough to carry the weight of the world on my shoulders. I am NOT always strong. I repeat I am NOT always strong and that is okay. I don’t always have to be.
To my fellow black women, your feelings matter. You are allowed to be vulnerable. You are allowed to cry. You are allowed to feel weak. You are allowed to be soft. You are human.
To those who have called me strong. I appreciate you but I’d also like you to know that I am not always strong and I don’t always have to be. I am completely allowed to feel weak, to be vulnerable, to be held, to be comforted. It’s detrimental to black women, especially those of us with mental illness to be constantly told we are strong. Even if it’s not intentional, it can be seen as dismissive for those of us who are struggling. Instead of calling us strong and leaving it at that, let us know you’re there to support us in our moments of weakness and remind us that having those moments is completely acceptable… because the world continues to tell us otherwise.
As I continue my journey to wellness and stability, I want to remember that while be strong is admirable, it’s not always required. Recovery and healing isn’t easy, it hurts, and sometimes I will feel like giving up. Life is hard sometimes and if I want to cry about it that’s okay. That does not make me a failure, it makes me human.