By Tambria Marsh
When you think about a Black women, what comes to mind? Some may think of various attributes, stereotypes and qualities, but unfortunately, there are some people that assume that Black women embody only one stereotype. Black women are versatile and bring a plethora of attributes, characteristics and qualities to the table.
Black women are known to be strong and yes that is correct, but there are other sides to us as well. We embody various aspects that are beautiful, such as: different emotions, perspectives, talents, traits, backgrounds … the list could continue. On the flip side of being known as “strong”, we are discouraged to seek out help such as therapy. We are taught that since we are strong that we do not need the help nor do we need to consider medication for what we are experiencing. Being a Black woman is a beautiful thing, but it can also be difficult as well; we are faced with more challenges than other races at times just because of our race and gender. The sad reality is that it is more acceptable for some races to consider therapy over the other and Black women are one of the ones that are not encouraged to seek out help.
I think we can all agree that mental illness is real, well at least I hope so. Mental illness can affect anyone regardless of your age, race, gender, background – it does not discriminate. A lot of times Black women feel the need to hide their experiences to seem not weak because “weaknesses” in a Black women is not a thing – or maybe it is just not as tolerable. In my experience with mental health, I was never encouraged to seek out help, it was always “you are fine”, “you have nothing to be stressing about” or “you don’t need to see no counselor, just pray and you will be okay!” If I am being completely honest with you, all I really needed was someone that I could talk to and for them to genuinely listen. Please do not get me wrong, we definitely need to pray, but I also believe that God has given His sons and daughter passions and hearts to work in the realm of counseling. When I was in high school I was experiencing mental health issues and wanted to see a counselor, but I was not encouraged to do so because that made me as Black female look weak, so I ended up sneaking around to see one.
From this experience, I finally realized that Black women are seen as “superwomen” at times and that we never need help, but even the strong get weak sometimes. If we all truly took time to think and reflect on this, I hope that we will see that this is not mentally, emotionally, physically or spiritually healthy. This burden of being the “strong” Black women affects us on many levels.
Sister to sister, I want to tell you that mental illness is real and that is why we as Black women need to take care of our mental health, if we do not, who will? It is okay not to be okay! It is okay to be weak at times! It is okay to cry! It is absolutely okay to seek help -- realizing that allowing ourselves to keep up with this “strong” Black women persona can be detrimental because it is affecting various parts of who we are. For me seeing a therapist helped me tremendously; I was able to discuss my past, discover some patterns I have done for years, heal from trauma, but most importantly, take care of myself. So sis, if you want to consider seeing a counselor, please do! I am supporting you and rooting for you 100%!
In the words of Maya Angelou, “If I am not good to myself, how can I expect anyone else to be good to me?”, so sis, please take care of yourself! We need and love you.