4 Ways to Stop Silent Suffering

sky-1054733_1920Silent suffering wears on the soul. It starts with quieting the cry that wants to leap from your throat threatening to expose your pain and vulnerability. We tell ourselves we are protecting our loved ones from worrying about us or needing to step up and support us as we support them. Silent suffering continues with self-denial; judging and questioning ourselves for feeling upset, hurt, disappointed, because “we should have known better” than to get our hopes up for love, acceptance, and affirmation. Eventually, it becomes hard to connect with the parts of ourselves that are soft and vulnerable, the parts of ourselves that need love and tenderness. Silent suffering wears on the soul. Continue reading “4 Ways to Stop Silent Suffering”

3 Healthy Ways to Engage in Dating

Butterfly w-FlowerThe desire to be partnered is something I felt starting when I was a teenager; at age 16 I thought I would be married by the time I was 25 (ha!). I wanted an intimate emotional connection, a relationship built on mutual support and encouragement. This desire led me to engage in a number of relationships some were good, others weren’t, and I have learned a lot along the way. As black women, we are faced with unique dating challenges. There are stereotypes about our physical appearance, our attitudes, and sexual proclivities. There are assumptions that we are desperate to be in relationships and therefore willing to tolerate inappropriate behavior from partners. There are messages from the media that make it seem like black women are not desirable marriage partners or that the reason we are single is because we are too picky. This is a lot to navigate in the search for love. Continue reading “3 Healthy Ways to Engage in Dating”

4 Healthy Ways to Get Over a Break Up

antelope-canyon-1128815_1920My last break up came suddenly; the relationship with my then-boyfriend wasn’t perfect (and in retrospect it had more problems than I acknowledged at the time) but things seemed to be going fairly well. After 7 months, for no clear reason that he could explain, he broke up with me and we never spoke again. I was heartbroken; it wasn’t the worst heart break I had ever experienced but it was painful. Break ups are hard and most of us have experienced at least one. Whether you initiated the end of the relationship or it came unexpectedly, break ups always involve some form of loss and pain. For better or worse, I have experienced a number of break ups and I have counseled people through the end of relationships that only lasted a month to people who are getting divorced after being married for more than a decade. In this post I share four healthy ways to get over a break up. Continue reading “4 Healthy Ways to Get Over a Break Up”

#OscarsSoWhite: 3 Ways to Respond to Being Overlooked

Oscars Statues
Photo by Prayitno (License)

Why has the exclusion of black people and black movies from the Oscars been so frustrating and upsetting to us? Part of the reason is because the actors, writers, and directors that we support, look up to, and are inspired by aren’t getting the recognition they deserve. Another reason is that excluding black narratives and characters from the nominations makes us feel like our own lives and experiences are being invalidated. Finally, I believe that the lack of black nominees in the Oscars this year resonates with us deeply because as black women we have experienced similar invalidation throughout our lives and careers. We know the pain and disappointment of being overlooked and underrated. We are familiar with the frustration of having our ideas and abilities repeatedly questioned. The fight to diversify the Oscars is not just about the entertainment industry, it’s also about fighting for our lives, our work, our stories, our selves to be acknowledged as important and legitimate.

So how do we manage the stress, pain, and disappointment of being overlooked? How do we make time to affirm ourselves when the rest of the world is behind the curve? We must validate our experiences, acknowledge our accomplishments, and celebrate ourselves. Continue reading “#OscarsSoWhite: 3 Ways to Respond to Being Overlooked”

Sankofa: Drawing Strength from Our Ancestors

Sankofa is a Ghanaian term that signifies the importance of drawing on our past in order to move forward. While some of the current struggles that we experience as black women are unique to our time, there are similarities to the challenges that our female ancestors faced. I believe that reflecting on the strengths and experiences of black women who came before us can give us insights into how to endure what we face today. In particular, one common challenge involves balancing our identities as women and black people in a social environment that often pushes us to prioritize one identity over another. In this post, I will review the experiences of three black women and highlight the lessons we can draw from their lives. Continue reading “Sankofa: Drawing Strength from Our Ancestors”

Self-Love for Valentines Day

roses-690085_1280Self-love can make or break your Valentine’s Day whether you’re single or in a relationship. When I didn’t truly love myself (sometimes I still struggle with this), I always felt like the things boyfriends did to show their love for me fell short, or the happiness that their show of love brought would pass quickly. Part of the problem was that because I did not authentically love myself, I was looking for the people I dated to fill a void that only I could fill. If you are in a relationship this Valentine’s Day, you may be focusing on what your partner is going to do for you and if you’re single you may spend the time feeling down and complaining about potential partners. This year I charge you to do something different. I encourage you to reflect on how well you are loving yourself and to take some intentional steps to indulge in self-love on Valentine’s Day.

Continue reading “Self-Love for Valentines Day”

Why Go to Therapy?

IMG_0516It was my third year of graduate school and my occasional anxiety was becoming more pervasive. At the start of grad school I committed myself to finishing in 5 years; the pressure to meet this goal came to a head as I tried to balance my classes, clinical training, research and teaching assistance-ships, and work on my own research. My thoughts were racing, my stomach was frequently upset, and I was exhausted so I decided to go to therapy to get help. I have to admit that it was easier for me to take this step than it is for many people; I had access to low-cost therapy at my university’s counseling center, I was surrounded by clinical psychologists who affirmed the utility of going to therapy, and both of my parents are clinical psychologists (I know!). I am writing this post and doing this blog in part because I have experienced the power of therapy – as a client and a clinician – and I know that for many black women therapy does not seem like an option or something that could help.  Continue reading “Why Go to Therapy?”

Black Women and Stress

IMG_0372Being at the intersection of blackness and womanhood comes with unique stressors and pressures. One important step towards positive mental health is acknowledging the things that make life more difficult for us and then engaging in coping strategies to address this stress. This post will share an overview of unique challenges that black women contend with; many of these topics will be explored in depth in future blog posts. I grouped these stressors into a few common categories and include suggested coping mechanisms. Continue reading “Black Women and Stress”

About Black Women + Mental Health

Women on Beach PaintingThis is a blog aimed at helping to promote mental health among black women. I welcome everyone who identifies as a black woman (cis, trans, straight, lesbian, bisexual, queer, and questioning) to read this blog. I hope this blog will expand your understanding about mental health issues and steps to take in promoting positive mental health in your life. I will draw on my life experiences (successes and struggles) as an African-American woman, my training as a clinical psychologist, and what I have seen help my clients during my 7+ years of doing therapy with individuals (children, adolescents and adults), couples, families, and groups. My aim is to help those who read this blog to live healthy, joy-filled lives. While my key audience is Black women, I think much of what I write may be helpful for people of many different backgrounds. If you read something that resonates with you that you think a friend or family member might appreciate I hope that you share what you read.

This blog will be focused on individual, psychological and spiritual growth. I fully acknowledge the urgent need for changes in our systems, institutions, and communities that would help black women to have more freedom to live healthy, joy-filled lives. I believe individual change is important even though it is not sufficient and I hope that this blog will guide you to make personal changes that will help you to live the life you want and will also empower you to more effectively work for systemic change wherever you are.

Please note that reading this blog is not a substitute for therapy. If you have topics that you would like me to write about please feel free to submit them in the contact portion of the website.