Dear Tiffany

” The struggles along the way are only meant to shape you for your purpose.”

Chadwick Boseman- R.I.P to our Black Panther! Wakanda Forever
R.I.P to our Black Panther!

What do you do when you no longer are happy, and no longer live for yourself? What do you do when the only thing that keeps you going in life is helping other’s or seeing your family happy? That’s how I feel. I literally am dependent on my nieces, and siblings being happy. Knowing that they are happy makes me want to continue to live. Me being able to help people gives me the strength to get up and live every day. Your neglecting yourself, your happiness, and most importantly your mental health when you do that, that includes me. I ran across a post on Facebook that summed these feelings up for you. This post on Facebook stated, “the saddest people always try their hardest to make people happy because they wouldn’t ever want anyone to feel the way they feel.” Powerful statement if you just sit and think about it. By coincidence two minutes later one of my Facebook friends asked a question on her page. Tiffany stated, “How can someone so broken inside be everyone’s rock?” It’s a simple yet so complex question. After reading that I did what I do best. I wrote a letter. So, here it goes.

Dear Tiffany,

Your trying to be everyone’s rock because of your own personal trials and tribulations. Your trying to be there for everyone else because you have such a big heart and you don’t want to see anyone else go through that exact same thing. In that process you are allowing yourself to be stretched thin. Your so busy trying to prevent everyone else from being hurt your allowing yourself not to be able to heal because your focus is solely on preventing other’s from feeling like you or living like you currently are. Don’t worry you aren’t the only person that is guilty of this. I am also. There are plenty of people that put that mask on and add a cape to save everyone around them but let themselves suffer. That’s me, and I bet that’s you also. I have the biggest heart for other people but when it comes to trying to heal myself there is a roadblock because I honestly just want to see everyone else happy and living their best life. In conjunction to doing that we also need to be selfish and heal ourselves first. This journey is going to have to be personal, but it is going to be the most blessed and rewarding journey. You must make this journey a personal one. When I say personal, I mean it’s time for you to say no, and mean it. I express to people all the time how I am in a season of “NO”. That doesn’t mean you have to say no to everything and anybody but just simply cutback on always saying yes to everything and anybody. I always said yes but then I had to think about all the “yes’s” I was giving out but all the, “no’s” I was getting back in return. Let that sink in for a moment. We break our backs for people that would not do the same for us. It’s not easy and there are going to be bad days. Those bad days are going to be your testimony. In order to have a testimony, there will be test, trials, and tribulations. We have to keep going. That’s a problem that I’m guilty of I get inpatient and frustrated because I just feel like growth goes slow. It’s not in our timing. It’s in God’s timing. He may not come when you want him, but he is always on time. Believe it and receive it. There is going to come a time where you are going to have to put yourself first. Even, if you have to wake up everyday and just simply say, “Destany comes first, I choose me.” I AM ENOUGH, AND YOU ARE ENOUGH ALSO. We have an obligation to heal ourselves first and foremost. We can’t continue to disregard ourselves or our feelings.

So, Tiffany hold your head up. I want you to know you are not alone. It’s ok to go through things. It’s Ok not to be ok. I will continue to say that because so often we hide behind our trials instead of using them. Embrace your pain. Use it to tell your story. Use it to help someone else. You got this. You are enough!

We have an obligation to heal ourselves. Yes, we can seek help, but the decision is ultimately ours. I heard it put this way, “your wound is not your fault, but your healing is your responsibility.” This goes back to our last post about getting to the root of the problem. Whatever that wound is that’s still open and preventing you from moving forward let’s work on letting that go. Have we not forgiven our offenders? Are we still stuck in the past? We need to evaluate our own situations because we are just as important as the individuals we are trying to help. The very one’s that you are risking your own healing for. I know your probably wondering how in the world does this tie into Mental Health. Think about it, anxiety is the most common diagnosis for Mental Illness. This is a prime example of how your anxiety can be affected. You are thinking about the past, future, and current problems all at the same time. That’s enough to drive anyone up the wall. So, remember you are enough, and you are right where God wants you to be whether good or bad.

99 Problems Communication is “1”

You don’t have to struggle in silence. You can be un-silent. You can live well with a mental health condition, as long as you open up to somebody about it.

Demi Lovato

Let’s continue our talk from last week about getting to the root of the problem. So, sit down, take off your Mask and get ready to heal! Let’s talk about communication which is usually the root cause of most problems. Communication is the key to any relationship whether that is with friends, family, or co-workers. Communication can be very hard if you come from a family like mine who rarely does that. You know the families that just brush things under the rug until they don’t have room anymore and one day everything just comes pouring out. Yeah! That’s my family, and probably yours also. So, maybe if we can learn communication early, we can put an end to the generational curses. If your parents or guardians didn’t talk to you, try and do it different in your lifetime. Try to talk out loud to friends and family about what’s going on with you. It’s hard, I know I haven’t even mastered it yet. This is just a starting point for all of us.

          Talking to someone about everything that’s going on with us mentally can be hard and nerve wrecking. How do you start the conversation? What will they think? Literally, every thought comes popping in your head. It’s called overthinking. I never want my family to think any different of me or walk on eggshells around me. I don’t want to use my Mental Health as an excuse for anything that happens in my life but being able to explain the root cause of the issue is a major plus. It can be a difficult situation to bring up in a random conversation especially if you’re the one starting it. I hear it being said, “Let’s pray about it”, or “don’t speak that over your life”. Sometimes we don’t want to hear let’s pray! We need to hear I got your back. Prayer doesn’t work without action, it’s like planting a flower but never allowing it to get sunlight or water. Pointless right.

          At some point in your life you are going to have to stand firm in your truth and say I need help. Now, whether people accept that or not it’s ok. Like we said at the beginning of the Blog. It’s Ok not to be ok but standing in your own truth is necessary. Sometimes talking to a therapist is necessary because they are unbiased. A current stigma is that if you have to receive medication for your Mental Illness you are considered weak. I’m here to say that you are not weak, you are just doing what is necessary for you. Getting to the root cause of your issues is not comfortable, but you must allow yourself to feel vulnerable enough to talk to someone. For example, with root cause analysis you have a problem that lies about the surface which is obvious, but the real problem is below surface that is like the root of  the plant or tree those are the contributing factors or the underlying issues that need to be attacked first even if they are planted deep down. I had to be vulnerable and find someone to talk to and because of me being vulnerable all my therapist have been great! Each one has helped me in a different way, and yes, I also take medication as needed.

Communicating that you are having a bad day or withdrawn and can’t be specific about the problem is hard to tell someone without them looking at you like you are crazy. When I’m around family and friends and I get that uneasy feeling, I was just faking it until I was able to cry behind closed doors! (Hiding behind the Mask). I don’t feel like I have a shoulder too lean on because I’m worried about being a burden on people. My room is my safe place. Find yours until your able to talk about it out loud.

          Mental Health Awareness is serious, and it’s not talked about enough. We need to be aware of the signs. The one’s on the outside don’t always know the signs so it’s up to us to help them by talking. We need to be able to educate each other but, we also need to stay educated. My second parents always tell me to learn to communicate and talk about it before it gets worse so people can know what to expect and know what there dealing with and how to help.

          In conclusion there are a lot of Destany’s out there. Unable to communicate, scared of what people may think, and lonely because we spend a lifetime behind a mask faking who we really are and not allowing your true self to breathe. By allowing the mask to come off you will feel at peace and let me tell you there is no better feeling than that. You must protect your peace at all cost, but that’s another conversation for another day. Buying a journal will save your life. Everything that you can’t say out loud you can write in your journal to relieve yourself. This blog is my journal because I don’t mind being transparent and letting you know my flaws if it is helping someone. So, take off your mask and let’s talk!

Dear Aaron

The worst part of having a Mental Illness is people expect you to behave as if you don’t.

The Joker

I once had a friend that took his own life. For weeks I wondered why. Why could he not come to me and tell me how he was feeling. What was so bad that the only thing he had left to do was take his life. I was depressed and hurt because I did not understand until I started facing my own truths and taking off my own Mask. After Aaron died, I did the only thing that eases my mind, and that was to write. So, I wrote a letter to Aaron.

Dear Aaron,

          Today I heard some disturbing news that you ended your life. Of course, I did not believe it. You were always happy, and vibrant. You were the last person I would have expected that from. If I would have known you were going through something so severe, I would have simply told you that you are loved. I would want you to know I see you, and I hear you. I understand that sometimes love just isn’t enough. I failed to check on you because I thought if you were smiling you were good, but that wasn’t true. We seen you shine your light on the outside but, on the inside, it must have been dim. Something that we couldn’t see. You showed your strength so no one would see your weakness. I always thought since you were strong that you didn’t need to be checked on. I learned and understand now that that’s a lie, and even you needed to be checked on. I never seen the depressed you. No one could see through your smile long enough to see “to” the pain. You probably went behind closed doors and cried, same as I. You don’t have to cry or hide anymore. You are also not a coward for committing suicide. I’m sure you thought it was your only option, the only way to get pass the pain. Lack of knowledge led you to believe that again suicide was your only choice. If you were here, I would tell you to fight, and to talk to someone. I would tell you that it’s ok as a Black Man to be vulnerable and to seek counseling. I would tell you It is Ok Not to Be Ok. It feels weird to say this, but your death put me on this journey of self healing, learning, and encouraging. I just want to help you all heal while also healing myself. We are on this journey together!

To all the Aaron’s listen clearly the devil doesn’t want you to fight. He want’s you to fail, but you must get up. Dry the tears and put the boxing gloves on and fight for your life because it’s worth it. YOU ARE WORTH IT! I’m speaking from experience I’ve been where you are more than once. At the age of 16 I found myself at my lowest. Just tired of being misunderstood, left out, and feeling unwanted. At the age of 24 I was back to feeling those same issues because I never was able to get to the root of the problem. That’s twice I’ve tried to commit suicide because I tried to handle things on my own. I just brushed the real problem under the rug as we all tend to do. So, although we may brush it under the rug; the rug eventually gets full and everything comes out again. Both of those times I was saved by Grace. Now, I’m not perfect but I’m growing everyday and learning. Learning what triggers you is the key. If it takes writing what makes you mad in a journal do that. Understand there is a reason for everything. That’s the main reason I see a therapist, so I can get to the bottom of what makes me overly sensitive, or quick to be offended. The problem was I never felt heard, but I also didn’t know how to communicate that feeling. If at 16 I didn’t brush my feelings under the rug and talked to someone, it would have saved me a lot of pain and heartache.

We are afraid to take off our mask not just in public but also to our families. I have seen firsthand why that is. When we do try and talk, we get those phrases like, I’ll pray for you, or nothing’s wrong with you that’s just an excuse. Those words stop us from getting help. They have stopped me. Don’t get me wrong prayer is great, but what happens when you don’t put action behind that prayer? Or, when that person doesn’t pray for you? To heal we must put in the work. Nothing comes easy. Therapy is ok, crying is ok, and getting help is ok. Remember that you are loved, and your life is important. If all else fails, feel free to call the 1-800-273-8255. It’s the suicide prevention line, and there is always someone to talk to. I know this may be a lot to take in but feel free to comment or email me for any questions or just to talk to someone. Again, we are on this journey together.

Behind The Mask

I think the saddest people always try their hardest to make people happy because they know what it’s like to feel absolutely worthless and they don’t want anyone else to feel like that.

Robin Williams

Mental Health is important especially in the Black community. I believe we
lack understanding and knowledge about Mental Health. It’s a touchy subject
because it affects a lot of individuals more than we know. It’s a subject that is not
talked about enough. We walk around with smiles on our faces but hurt in our
heart. We’re crying inside for someone to really understand us. I don’t believe it’s just me when I say our families don’t understand what it’s really like. We wake up not knowing what our mood will consist of. Some of us can’t be om crowds, or loud noises. The smiles are just another way to put on a mask and we can change masks everyday. The world is like a masquerade ball with everyone wearing a disguise, hiding behind closed doors that we are really hurting inside. The disguise comes off once the ball is over with. If my siblings only knew how much I depend on them. They keep me alive. I only say that to say this; find something to keep you grounded whether it’s a
person or a hobby. I want to heal the wounds that are still bleeding because they
were never properly treated, not talked about, and covered up but still being
scratched on. I want this blog to open wounds that have scars. The pain that caused the depression will always be there, but we must decide will it be a burden or a testimony. We keep everything bottled inside and we are afraid to just let it out. Mental Illness is a disease, and sometimes suicide
can be the permanent solution. Sometimes it’s our only choice, or so we think. Mental Illness doesn’t have a face. It could be the child at your school that’s the star of the basketball team. A star by day but cutting his wrist by night. It can be the soldier that just came back from war struggling to find out where they fit in. You can’t walk down the street and point out Mental Illness. I want everyone who reads this to embrace this space. Embrace being open. Ask questions that you’ve never asked before. This is the place you can take your mask off. Welcome to Behind the Mask.