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Mental Health & Wellness Associate
As I began to walkdown the stairs I felt a sharp pain in my lower back, and I knew I had done something wrong. I continued to work through the day, but once I arrived home I was sobbing in agonizing pain. A few days passed and my sons father suggested that I needed to go to the emergency room to be safe. Indeed, I had strained my back and had to be placed on bedrest for the next week.
Now as I reflect on that experience, the glaring moment that stuck with me is the coworkers at my job who asked if I wanted them to pull the boxes from the stockroom for me. I was a woman on a mission, and I was not about to let other employees think that I could not do my job. Not only did I put myself at risk, but I also put my growing child at risk to prove a point.
I am not alone in this experience as many black women feel the need to “prove” how much we can bear or handle for the sake of not seeming like a burden. We do not ask assistance to remove some of the weight from our shoulders and in the end put ourselves in further distress. While there are many reasons why we may not voice our needs, the risk of being mentally exhausted is too great of a price to pay.
What questions can we ask to lighten our daily loads? How can we process when things are becoming too much? Why should we heal our past experiences with disappointment from loved ones? The following are vital reasons to building a foundation of support.
Consider this waiting until our car is no longer working does not serve us, so we maintain the inner working consistently, so the engine does not completely fall apart. By tending to the many moving parts of ourselves, such as physical health, mental health, and emotional health before we reach a point of distress, we can maintain some level of relief. By building a community on the forefront this allows us to decrease overwhelming feelings and increased levels of frustration.
You Deserve a Break
I find this is the most difficult reason many black women struggle with building a support system. We often believe that we have not worked hard enough or if we do not do it then it will not get done so we cannot have a moment to ourselves. If this is something you experience, I would like to suggest reciting this mantra: I am worthy of rest. I am worthy of peace. I deserve a moment to be one with myself. Sis, you really deserve every second of relaxation, simply because you exist.
Support Just Feels Good
Remember that feeling when someone offered to help you with a project or held your hand when you were afraid? The emotion was I feel safe and I can trust others to help when I need it. As we navigate through life unwanted experiences like disappointment get stuck on replay and we build defense mechanisms, so we will not have those experiences again. However, this disconnection does not benefit us as it works against us in a society that is not set up for us to do things alone. Start with small things, such as asking a friend or loved one if you all can meet up in person or virtually once a month just to chat.
I know that community is something that we do not often discuss especially in the age of so much self-help literature. As a black woman who is a recovering perfectionist and serial overachiever, I understand how difficult it may be to ask for the support you need or even want. I have learned that building a support system that works for me and my small family is what is going to sustain my mental health. I accept if those whom I ask are not willing to be apart of that system and I honor those who rise to the occasion. That’s the thing with community, it’s forever changing, growing and building with each chapter of our lives.
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Healing Black Women
is a safe space designed to encourage and promote all forms of wellness and healing for black women.