If there’s one thing about black men, we’re tough. We know how to be a solid foundation for the people we care about and how to shoulder whatever life throws at us. While this strength is an admirable trait, it can often come at the expense of our mental health.
I can’t tell you how many times I, as well as other men I know, have felt the need to “seem okay” for the sake of supporting the people around us. Pretending to be okay can feel incredibly isolating and makes it incredibly easy to put your mental health on the backburner. Ultimately, if there’s anything you take away from reading this
that you don’t have to be okay. Acknowledging this is the first step towards
tending to your own mental health.
I come from a family that’s pretty conservative/traditional, so my
mental wellbeing was never really something anyone ever considered. It was
just expected that I would be “fine”. It wasn’t until I became an adult and
started taking on more of a provider role, that I realized I had been neglecting
my own mental health. Despite loving my family, I realized I had fallen into a
deep depression as a result of trying to make myself seem put together and
conforming to their expectations. I had written off the idea of seeking help
because I was convinced I didn’t need it. I had convinced myself that I could
work through my issues on my own and that getting help for my depression
would make people look at me differently. That wasn’t the right call. After
some time, I realized that I had spent a good chunk of my life trying to
silently power through my depression alone and it wasn’t until recently that I
could admit enough was enough. I’ve begun to see a therapist and the quality
of my life has improved ever since. I think an important part of encouraging
black men to seek help is by destigmatizing the idea of getting therapy.
There’s nothing wrong with seeking help and choosing to do so could makethe difference between a fulfilling life.
By: Jonathan Asprilla