Mental Health Monday: Stock up on self-care. Winter is here.

 No.

No.

The Dark and Terrible Tangerine Terror cometh. The plague is upon us. Self-care, support systems, filled prescriptions, and wondrous grits are of the utmost importance right now. Fellowship with your folks. Stock up on rice and Talenti. Say "no" more often, and take a break from saving the world to  take your ass to sleep (or at least a strong power nap). Pick up a book or buy this coloring book for grown persons or even this Wu-Tang coloring book. And take your Flintstone vitamins.

This week's story comes from Ahmier Gibson, a graphic designer and public servant who describes himself as "a twenty-something Millennial peace chaser." Today, he shared some wise words born of his experiences and realizations after moving back home with his mom at age 27 in the name of self-preservation. In fact, it's called "5 things I have learned since moving moving back with his mom at 27."

"I moved to New York to figure it out. And after I had thought I had learned enough there, I moved to Cali to do some more figuring it out.

My California experience was nothing like my New York experience, though. From the moment I landed, it was crap. I spent a little over a year there, and it got so bad that the only thing I could do was call my mom and make plans to move back in with her.

I have now been here for almost a year, and this is what I have learned:

1. There is no shame in having to go back to your parent’s home as an adult (if given the opportunity to do so). I was 27 at the time, now 28 – and outside of the mess I had gotten myself into, I was dealing with the shame of being a grown ass man living with my mother.

It wasn’t until I got into therapy that I started to unpack where that shame was rooted. My mom is my best friend, and she didn’t have an issue with me coming home so why did I?

My problem, which forced me to be ashamed, was knowing that we live in a society that looks down upon people who live at home with their parents. And because I wasn’t secure enough in creating a life that was inspired by self, I allowed that thought to eat me alive for some time."

Read the rest at Ahmier's site, coke and jack.  

Note from Alex: Since I'm asked regularly about helping people find help (specifically from a sane, suitable Black or brown therapist in New York or elsewhere), I decided to curate a database of Black and brown mental health professionals (therapists, psychiatrists, family counselors, etc.), massage/yoga/fitness/reiki/bootcamp/herbologist/crystal power harnesser persons and such, and programs, agencies, resources and services that can help folks on their journeys. It's a work in progress, and in this stage, I'm building the database, collecting info, and compiling all the goodness, and in the near future I'll make a simple directory situation happen. I want people to have the ability to search by location, payment method, specialty, location, etc., and have a greater chance of finding someone near them (or offering an online service), with the added benefit of being able to choose from professionals sensitive to and understanding of their particular social/cultural/sexual/familiar situation. An easy way to find a professional, coach, program, or class to fulfill whatever wellness need you have. Though there are various resources, I wanted to work towards creating a more comprehensive, curated resource. And, as I begin my journey towards an MSW and becoming somebody's therapist, I'm increasing interested in hearing about how other people arrived to the mental health field.

AND this is a work in progress. If you see any changes or additions to suggest in this form, please let me know. I'll totally keep you updated on when this resource goes live. Please pass the form (WHICH IS HERE) on to anyone you think would benefit from or like to be part of such a database. Feel free to contact me here with any questions, comments, suggestions, or concerns. Thank you thank you thank you.

Reading List

  • "When My Mind Stopped Working, I Realized How Badly We Treat Mental Health" by Isabel Hardman [The Telegraph

"At first, I found work was an escape from my personal problems, and colleagues remarked on how well I seemed to be coping, given what had happened. But gradually I found my mind becoming foggier, and my reactions to everyday troubles more extreme and anxious. I've had times in my life where I have been miserable. But never before had I struggled to control my mind. 

In June, I confessed to a friend I had been struggling with very dark thoughts. He took me to the doctor straight away and I was prescribed anti-depressants. Without my friend recognising my symptoms as an illness, I probably wouldn’t have gone to the doctor at all."

  • "Black and anxious: why we can't all just 'keep it cool'" by Danni Roseman [Blavity]

    "Hi. I'm black, and I'm awkward anxious. (I'm also awkward, but that's another story entirely.) I've suffered from anxiety for as long as I can remember, yet I didn't know it had a name until I left home. Why's that? Because anxiety in my black household was some mythical, made-up concept — like a post-racial America. It simply doesn't exist. I distinctly remember trying to clumsily put these feelings of panic, dread or uneasiness into words and being met with a smooth "Sit down, child, you're working my nerves" or "Don't you have something else to fixate on?" In summation, for years I felt as though these emotions I was dealing with, almost on a daily basis, weren't real. Or at the very least, weren't important enough to warrant concern."

  • "4 Black Women Reveal How Therapy Truly Saved Their Lives" by Gina Roberts-Grey [Essence]

"The trauma of a 1995 gas explosion at her home prompted Robyn Michele, 34, of Piscataway, New Jersey, to see a therapist for five years. She returned to therapy in 2008 for several months to handle the stress of being pregnant and enduring a difficult relationship. 

“Having already been in therapy, it was natural for me to turn to that for help.” Then, in 2012, another rocky romance raised a red flag. Seeing she was in a toxic cycle of dating, she once again turned to counseling. “Despite knowing I wanted out of the unhealthy relationship spiral I was in, I was unable to climb out on my own,” she says. Therapy provided clarity. “I realized how much I put others’ needs before my own.”"

"At an early age, I’d learned that it could even be dangerous to use your hands around white people. When my friend Julius and I would go shopping with our parents, we were sternly told, ”Now, be sure to keep your hands in your pockets while we’re in the store. Do you understand me?” Even writing this now brings tears to my eyes. Keeping our hands in our pockets was an accommodation that we had to make for white people because our parents were worried that we’d otherwise be presumed criminals—even at age 5. Julius, now a respected physician, recently mentioned that he still finds himself jamming his hands into his pockets when walking through a department store."

"While self-care may sound like a wishy-washy idea recently coined by a holistic therapist in LA, it actually has a Platonic pedigree and a very pointed political purpose. The French philosopher Michel Foucault argued that the ancient Greeks saw it as integral to democracy: self-care was a necessary part of care for others. It made you a better, more honest citizen.

When you’re part of a marginalized group, it’s even more important. Indeed, it’s what keeps you going. In an essay in her 1988 book, A Burst of Light, Audre Lorde wrote that “caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare”. Lorde was a black lesbian feminist poet, all of which, she said, “meant being really invisible”. In a world that is constantly trying to erase your selfhood and deny your self-worth, choosing to focus on yourself really is a radical act."

  • "What Happened When I Went Off My Antidepressants" by Stephanie Auteri [Tonic]

"Sometimes, despite the diagnosis you're given, it's hard to know what you need, or if what you're feeling is a "normal" reaction to the regular ups and downs of daily life, or an "abnormal" reaction. After all, you can easily collect five different diagnoses from as many different doctors.

Many times, whether you really need it or not, taking medication can feel like giving in to a weakness. Like a personal failure."

Commercial Break:

And here is a dance demonstration from James Brown.

Resources:

"Meditation is as old as human spirituality itself. The oldest Aboriginal cultures of the Earth used meditation as a tool for spiritual fortification and communion with the infinite self. Today, meditation is gaining traction in the world of modern medicine as a treatment for many physical illnesses. Its time we got caught up.

WHAT IS MEDITATION?

Meditation is the act of contemplation or reflection, and serves two purposes – to (1) gain tranquility, and to (2) gain insight."

"Family and friends may feel like they're getting the brush-off if you trot off to the movies or want to take a walk on your own. Intercept arguments or hurt feelings before they happen by explaining that you need some time to yourself. Desiring space on your own (and on your own terms) is not selfish; it allows you to recharge and return to group or family activities rested and invigorated."

"This morning I went for a swim in the outdoor pool at my apartment complex. Had the whole pool to myself. As a breeze blew through the tall pine trees that tower over the pool area, a sense of calm came over me. I felt myself there, in this pool, truly appreciative of what I have access to as a resident. But then my mind wandered to flashes of images I had seen of a pool party in McKinney, Texas about a week and a half ago. When I saw these images of young people being assaulted by police I was incensed. My peace had been disturbed."

Create joyful rituals. Create simple easy-to-do rituals that ground your day and you’ll find your way “home” no matter what life throws at you. For example, get up 10 minutes earlier and enjoy some gentle yoga stretches or that quiet cup of tea or coffee.

Last week's Mental Health Monday

Previous editions: Mental Health Reading List 1 | 2 | 3

Our two mental health-themed episodes: "We Fall Down" and "You Good, Man?," both featuring Nickolas Gaines.

If you have something mental health-related you think we need to see, step into our office or hit us up at theextraordinarynegroes [at] gmail.com. You're so pretty. And check in on somebody.