“As a child I went to an elementary school where the students were predominantly white, like I could count all of the people of color with 2 hands. I remember thinking, “why does my school get to have a gymnastics class apart from regular gym class, and a drama class when all of the other schools I attended before with predominantly African American students didn’t have that at all.” I didn’t really understand why things were the way they were just because the people lived in different neighborhoods, but I began to understand as I grew older.”
“I struggled with my mental health as a child a lot. It was in regards to my own body. I always felt fat, and believed no one would like me or date me because of it. It was only in my 20s that I let that belief go, and then I discovered anxiety about other issues. But the main struggles in my life were always about my sense of unlovability. I just didn’t feel worthy of connection or love and if I don’t keep on top of that, it comes up in my life today.”
Stress is often expressed and reflected through statements such as “I feel tense”, “I’m worried,” or “I’m restless”; It manifests itself physically in the body from acne breakouts and psoriasis (red, itchy, scaly patches) to neck and chest pain. When you feel stressed, this immediately arouses the brain which then triggers hyperactivity in the amygdala, which subsequently triggers a stress response in your entire being.
“There’s no reason why the conversations around motherhood shouldn’t speak to the totality of who a woman is. We have to stop telling women that when they become mothers they must become martyrs. No one EVER asks a man how he is going to have a family and hold down a job. No one ever tells a man that he must give up the parts of himself that make him human, that give him life. But we always tell women that she can’t both work and raise kids or that she must give up her dreams, whatever they may be. It’s time we stop that.”
How do you think the historical legacy of the Christian church has contributed to the current mental health stigma that exists in the faith community?
“Lack of knowledge perpetuates stigma. In the past, people didn’t know much about mental illness and have done horrible things to others for the sake of “curing” them of their ailments. Today, those who are not open to talking about mental illness still see those who suffer from it as people who have little to no faith. In reality, there is more that comes to play here. People can have faith and still feel depressed.”
“With the country in lockdown due to COVID-19, there has been an enormous increase in discussions around mental health, mindfulness and self-care. The coloring book phenomenon, while not art therapy, stems from people experiencing how using coloring books can be therapeutic in alleviating stress. The uptick in people embracing creative pastimes during this crisis, whether making art, cooking or knitting, is very encouraging as these activities help us manage our stress and improve our mood.”
“Beyond the factors that commonly trigger mental health issues, Black men must also carry the day to day stress of being a Black man, which often presents itself unconsciously in normal activities. Black men report experiencing racial microaggressions —insults, invalidations, and interpersonal slights (subtle and sometimes unintentional) – which are linked to symptoms of anxiety and depression. Black men also suffer from impostor syndrome, a psychological pattern in which an individual doubts his accomplishments in professional settings and has a persistent internalized fear of being exposed as a fraud….. My general belief is that human beings have long held the answers to how to live well. Somewhere along the way, we lost our knowledge of the importance of self-care and restorative practices that help us cope with stress. I think the loss is wrapped up in a myriad of reasons, including western work culture and increased exposure to technology. The bottom line is that we were not designed to be as busy as we are.”