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How It Feels to Be Black and Struggle With a Mental Illness During the Black Lives Matter Movement

Times can be tough, as it is, being Black. Times can be tough, as it is, being mentally ill. However, nothing prepared me for this moment in time, where those two facts about me are both being extremely tested to the core. Am I supposed to feel safe now that the Black Lives Matter movement is gaining massive national and worldwide attention? Am I supposed to feel relieved or happy about this? Am I supposed to just magically, in a sense, be OK now? The news is propagating so much trash right now. Now, I am fully aware of the realities of what is happening. You don’t have to tell me twice.

Let’s switch over, though, to my mental health as an individual. I’m suffering right now, massively. I lost my job during the start of the worst of the coronavirus (COVID-19), in March 2020. Things started to go downhill for me, then. I started having massive anxiety, I stopped having a sleeping routine as I’d be up all night, I began to gain weight from depression, etc. This continued through April and into May. About the beginning of May, into mid-May, I started to gain some hope. I started to apply to jobs every couple of days. I started having the ability to slowly leave my house over that period of time, and I am diagnosed with agoraphobia, as well.

When the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd hit, I had foolishly and selfishly hoped it would blow over, all because I was hoping things would not get bad again with my mental health. Then, everything blew up regarding race relations. Let me say now, I’m glad it did for the sake of society and bringing massive, massive awareness to police brutality and the killings of Black people. However, the aftermath of it has caused me to sink into a partial psychosis, something I haven’t really had to deal much since getting back onto medications for it in 2014. I am diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder, bipolar subtype. Can I just say, the past week has been a blur for me? Can I just say that I have encountered multiple, massive bouts of extreme dissociation due to anxiety? I am no longer able to leave my house unless I absolutely, positively need something. Can I just say that I am hearing voices? I am definitely hospital material right now, but my psychiatrist has represcribed me emergency anxiety medication after four or five years of being off them.

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I can’t have one day where I just wake up and have a decent, peaceful morning. I have the news being shown to me everywhere from everyone. My father, bless his heart — a Black man in this country — needs to vent about it, which is extremely understandable. Multiple Caucasian friends of mine have asked me how they can support me, amongst other things. I swear, above everything, I want to be proactive about this situation. It kills me that I really truly can’t, or at least I won’t be protesting in person. I can’t because I can barely care for myself at this point in time. That’s just the honest truth. My mental health is suffering so much from the news and the attention I am getting, from random people on social media to friends wanting and asking how they can support me. I wish I wasn’t mentally ill. I wish, but the only thing I can personally tell my friends is to just be a kind person to Black people and everyone you meet. Give people chances. Don’t go off looks when looking at someone who is Black. Befriend people, but also be gracious. I am someone who thinks mostly positively about people. I try my hardest not to judge others just by looking at them.

For now, though, I just want to sleep. I’m exhausted. I’m depressed. I’m scared. I’m lonely. I’m fearful. I’m sick. But, when Black Lives Matter fades from the forefront, will all of you still be “down” with me like you are now?

Photo by Houcine Ncib on Unsplash

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