Can A Clean Mirror Heal Us?

Last September, I wrote a blog on What Recovery Means to Me to share the lessons I have learned and am still learning in my recovery process. One of the promises I made and kept was to return to college and finish my undergraduate degree. By the grace of my Higher Power and with a lot of determination, I re-enrolled at Temple University. The year was 2013, and I was back at TUUUUUUUU!!! However, I faced another roadblock. What will be my major? Do I finish my degree in African-American studies? Or do I listen to the suggestions I got while in rehab from my fellow 12-steppers, peers, and staff to pursue a degree in social work or psychology program? I had the right attitude, awareness, and temperament for such an undertaking. Decisions, decisions, decisions! Ultimately, I felt it was important to give back as an African-American man and continue my bachelor’s degree in African-American studies. As we celebrate Black History Month, I wonder if accurate teachings of African-American history can help heal the mental well-being of the African-American community.  In her book, Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome: America's Legacy of Enduring Injury and Healing, Dr. Joy DeGruy shares that post-traumatic slave syndrome is the cause of many of the “adaptive survival behaviors in African-American communities throughout the United States and [...]

2023-02-03T10:50:13-05:00February 1st, 2023|Lived Experience, Racial Equity|

Racism & My Mental Health

In 1961, James Baldwin was asked by a radio host about being Black in America. “To be a Negro in this country and to be relatively conscious,” Baldwin said, “is to be in a state of rage almost all of the time and in one’s work.” Racism takes a huge toll on one’s mental health. Racism affects how people operate in the workplace, at home, and in social settings. In my 20’s, racism caused me to be an angrier person. If I knew I would have to be in a room where I was the only person of color, I would drink to delude myself into believing I was in a safe space. Racism has the tendency to make you feel as though you can’t compete in certain spaces. When you finally decide that you can compete, you work 10 times harder to be seen as equal, often being overly critical and judgmental of yourself which sometimes causes you to revert to the mindset that you are not good enough.  One of the most helpful things I found is to realize we all suffer from unconscious biases and in some situations give people grace that they may not be aware of what they did or said that had a negative effect on you. What do I do in that situation? [...]

2023-01-12T16:08:04-05:00January 12th, 2023|Lived Experience, Racial Equity|

Suicidal Ideation: A First-Person Account

I’m going to try my best to talk about my suicidal ideation and depression. Honestly, I still don’t completely understand how to explain. Let me start by telling you what I call my depressive and suicidal moods/episodes: “Moments.” I started calling them moments because it helps me remember that the way I’m feeling will pass soon. Even though I can’t understand myself during those moments, I can get through and overcome them. The word helps me build resiliency within myself.  These moments feel like heavy storm clouds surrounding my head. I'm sad, mad, lazy, unmotivated, and tired. Some days it’s one or the other; some days I’m all of those things at once. Then this thing called negative self-talk comes into play. Negative self-talk is very dangerous, it really can diminish a person and cause harm. If I am not able to speak positivity into my thoughts, I become stuck into a cycle of negative, intrusive, and harmful thoughts. During these stuck moments I feel blank, but my mind is going 1,000 mph. When I’m deep into my moments, it's hard for me to feel my worth. These don’t always happen in this order or simultaneously, some of these things exist on their own in my mind. I start to just feel a sensation of numbness and loneliness. I began to [...]

2022-08-22T20:52:13-04:00September 19th, 2022|Lived Experience, Suicide Prevention|

Why Mental Health is So Important to People of Color

As a Black man, I am continuously aware of some of the stigmas surrounding mental health from both a gender- and race-related perspective. More often than not, people of color feel that these services may make them look weak or that they are broken. However, taking proactive approaches – whether it be simple wellness practices such as yoga or meditation or more substantive ones such as structured therapy – could not show more strength.  As a licensed clinician myself, as well as someone reared by a parent with clinical depression, this is a topic very close to home. Quite frankly, seeing my parent struggle to hold conversations and even maintain simple tasks at home because of crippling depression, has molded me into someone passionate in the fight to remove stigmas around mental health. As a professor of psychology, I sought to infuse much of my own experiences in the area of mental health to help frame the minds of future educators and clinicians. In our current culture, with the pandemic as the backdrop and social media serving constant pressure to promote life not always rooted in truth, the presence of depression consistently lingers – as we have seen in suicide reports. Finally, I implore my fellow people of color to ignore some of the antiquated stereotypes of seeking therapy [...]

2022-02-10T10:38:52-05:00February 10th, 2022|Lived Experience, Mental Health, Racial Equity|
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