• Ayanna J.

Mental Health Awareness.

Always being the strong friend, the go to person, the less outwardly emotional, eventually gets draining. Understand, we all go through things and we all have that person or those people we feel as though we can easily confide in, but what happens to that person when they don’t feel that they have anyone? There was a time where I felt as if I was the go to girl for everyone, but when it came down to me expressing my inner feelings or emotions, I just got a “damn, that’s crazy”.

It’s difficult for me to really open up and discuss how I’m feeling to anyone, which led me to writing. Writing has saved me in many ways than none. I utilize my journal app as if it’s my best friend. Don’t get me wrong, my best friends are there for me when I need them most, but sometimes I go through things that I don’t feel as if I want to burden other people with. It gets emotionally draining when you begin to live life in such a facade where you are always happy and jokey when inside you are aching because no one gets you. The dark cloud of confusing, loneliness, and a longing to be understood eventually engulf you into a mood so deep that you begin to spiral or lash out.

I am speaking again from experience, because I am the type to bottle everything up, and then explode when I’ve reached a limitation. I bottle everything up and walk around with my head held high, always. I hate to show that I’m down because I think people see it as a sign of weakness. Newsflash, even for myself, who cares what other people think? We are ALL human. We all feel. We all have those days, it’s normal. For me, what happens when those days become those weeks or those months? Who’s there to help me then? My problem is that I can fall into those shifty mood swings and want to be left alone, to the point where I avoid human contact all day until I am ready. I’ll hide out in my room until I can no longer bare being alone. It’s tough, feeling so alone and so lost when there are so many people around you daily, and it isn’t easy to deal with. People have aimed to help me with my weird bouts of anxiety/depression, insisting I seek out a therapist, but I personally just don’t feel comfortable doing so.

My one piece of advice for this: check on your "strong" friend. Mental health MATTERS, and it is a topic that was so taboo within the black/latinx community for way too long. I felt that this post just fit, as July is regarded as 'National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month.' There are numerous disparities when it pertains to minorities and mental health, for example "minorities are less likely to receive diagnosis and treatment for their mental illness, have less access to mental health services and often receive a poorer quality of mental health care."

I’m glad that it is getting more attention now than before. As provided by an article I read provided by the U.S Department of Health and Human Services, the statistics on mental health related issues within the minority community are as follows:

  • Over 70% of Black/African American adolescents with a major depressive episode did not receive treatment for their condition.

  • Almost 25% of adolescents with a major depressive episode in the last year were Hispanic/Latino.

  • Asian American adults were less likely to use mental health services than any other racial/ethnic groups.

  • In the past year, nearly 1 in 10 American Indian or Alaska Native young adults had serious thoughts of suicide.

  • In the past year, 1 in 7 Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander adults had a diagnosable mental illness.

Everyone handles things differently, and I highly recommend people to find the route to dealing with their internal issues. How I cope with my own issues is to stay at home all day and take a personal day/ a "mental health day". When I feel overwhelmed, or like there's just way too much going around me at once for me to even deal with, I stay in. I use this time to refresh and reflect, fix myself up, build up my own confidence, write, edit, write some more, cook, clean, and relax. I find comfort with being at ease and at peace with myself so that I can carry out that exuberance into the world. On my down days, I don’t like to be a Debby Downer, so I try my best to keep my negativity out of the positive atmosphere.

Remember, not everyone can deal with their issues the same way, so don't forget to check in on people from time to time... because you truly never know. I’ve been working on this new thing where I text all my immediate friends a simple “how are you feeling today?/this week” text every other week, to not bombard them, while still checking up. You may not know the significance of that simple “how are you?” but it can definitely go a long way. Someone very close to me had attempted to take their precious life away, twice, years back, and no one ever saw the signs. A smile can go a long way, but if you can at least check on the person/peoples close to you, make sure everything is truly OK. So make sure to check up on others, but also reach out when you feel in need. Your health, our health, everyone's mental health matters... start stressing the importance.


Ayanna J

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