Anxiety is one of the most common mental health concerns that people experience and black women are no exception. The pressures that black women face related to handling responsibilities at work and home, with family and friends can lead to anxiety. Feeling like you have to work twice as hard to be recognized or that you have to do everything perfectly for fear that a mistake will not only reflect badly on you but on the entire race is anxiety provoking. Further, worrying about your physical and emotional safety and weathering the jabs of microagressions is exhausting and can lead us to be on edge. While anxiety is an understandable response to these difficult circumstances, it is associated with increases in cortisol (stress hormone), which can cause our bodies to function poorly over time. Understanding our anxiety and learning to manage it while we work to change the systems and circumstances that make us more likely to experience stress is essential for our health and well being. Continue reading “Understanding & Managing Anxiety”
The last time I was really depressed was in response to a break up; unexpected heartbreak sent me into a depressive episode that took a few months to pass. I was crying frequently, my appetite was low and I started to lose weight, I’m usually an outgoing and sociable person but I didn’t want to spend time with my friends, my energy and mood were low, and I felt sad most of the time.
Sometimes depression comes in response to a difficult experience like a break up, the loss of a friendship, or a loved one passing away. Other times, depression emerges unexpectedly and without a clear trigger. No matter what prompts depression, it seems to roll in like a heavy thundercloud, weighing on us, making the air thick and hard to move through, blocking out the sun and warmth, and causing us to question what life was like without this cloud of depression and to wonder whether whether this storm will ever pass. Continue reading “Black Women & Depression: Signs & Strategies”
Boundaries are important. I’m not talking about defensive walls or impenetrable barriers. I’m talking about the things that allow you to know what your limits are, what types of relationships you are comfortable with, and how far you are willing to go in various situations. As black women we may vacillate between having boundaries that let everything and everyone in and putting up emotionally concrete walls for protection. This dynamic reflects the tension that many of us feel between wanting to be loved and cared for and feeling the need to proactively or re-actively defend ourselves against being hurt emotionally. Unfortunately, too many of us have experienced the pain of heartbreak and betrayal that prompt us to build emotional walls which may be moderately successful at keeping us from getting hurt again but also prevent us from experiencing joy and connection. Continue reading “Establishing Healthy Boundaries”
Silent 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”
Self-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.
Finding a Therapist
Since I spent my last post encouraging you to consider therapy, this post will help you navigate finding and choosing a therapist who is right for you. One of the first things to do when looking for a therapist is to check into the mental health benefits of your insurance coverage. There are laws that require health insurance companies to cover psychotherapy. You can learn about your mental health benefits by calling the number on the back of your insurance card. You should ask what your co-pay or co-insurance is for therapy sessions and whether you need to meet a deductible prior to the co-pay/co-insurance kicking in. A co-pay is a flat fee that you pay no matter how much the therapist charges. A co-insurance is a percentage of the therapist’s fee that you pay (e.g. 10%) and your insurance company will pay the rest. If using your insurance is affordable you can use the provider search page on your insurance company’s website to search for an in-network therapist in your area. Continue reading “Finding & Choosing a Therapist”
Being 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”