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The Top Things I Hear as a Black Woman With a Mental Illness

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The top things I hear as a Black woman with a mental illness:

1. “Oh, that’s why you’re single — because you’re crazy. I knew it had to be a reason.”

Uh, yeah. *Blank Stare* I’m single because I don’t have to and will not settle.

2. “You just don’t want to be happy.”

I am happy, but I have “moments” which portray me as pessimistic and miserable. I can’t erase those traumatic moments. Would you be happy 24/7 after enduring and re-experiencing such situations?

3. “Don’t tell anyone. People may laugh.”

I am an open book: transparent and empowering. I will not live in the darkness because some find mental illness funny. Let them laugh.

4. “Black women are too strong to have problems.”

We are strong and powerful. It seems Black women are not “allowed” to fall apart nor show it. We endure more sexism and ageism. We head most single family households. Naturally, we experience more stress. We can be strong but still feel hopeless and helpless due to high societal expectations.

5. “You need to go to church; mental illnesses are demons. You probably aren’t tithing.”

Yes, paying tithes will make my head stop spinning [insert sarcasm]. I mean, it’s like telling a person in cardiac arrest they need to go to a pastor and not the ER. 

6. “This stuff is ‘White people’ stuff.”

African Americans are about 20 times more likely to experience serious mental health issues than the general population. But, we don’t want anyone to know. Next...

7. “If you try suicide, you are going to hell – and it’s selfish.”

Do you know anyone who went to hell? I’ll wait…

Furthermore, those who attempt or die by suicide are in severe psychological pain. Perhaps, it’s selfish of you to stigmatize those with mental illness. 

8. “You are using this as an excuse. There isn’t anything wrong with you. All Black people have issues. Suck it up.”

Yes, an excuse, a “tool of incompetence,” huh? So, I love sleepless nights, overeating, taking meds, worrying about everything, checking my iron 10 times in the morning, and fearing the gym. What a wonderful life!

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page. 

If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255

Originally published: July 11, 2016
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