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Check Ya' Self



           With this previous week being Mental Health Awareness Week, I felt it'd be appropriate to discuss something that many in the African American community like to sweep under the rug. I myself, have my own ongoing battle with anxiety and depression. It's something that I recently started talking about within the last year and I'm no longer embarrassed  or ashamed. As a single mother, I'd say we worry about things a little more than the average person because we do everything on our own. Cook, clean, get kids off to school, wipe runny noses, crunch numbers to pay bills, fix things around the house deal with our own personal issues, we’re sleep deprived etc. I've always said in the past that if I don't worry about myself, no one else will.

With that mentality I've found myself physically and emotionally stuck at times. I remember at one point my son was late to school every day for a week. I couldn't get out of bed to start my day. I physically felt like I had the weight of the world on my shoulders. I remember coming home some days and my son trying to have a conversation with me and I felt like his lips were just moving. I was stuck. Laundry needed to be done, house needed to be cleaned, dinner needed to be cook and there I was on the couch stuck, often times just staring into space. My chest would ache and I'd struggle to catch my breath at times; then the anxiety would set in and I'd be in panic mode. Picking at my cuticles or nails until I saw red was one way I tried to cope but even the pain didn’t phase me. Some nights I found myself cleaning to 2AM....with a toothbrush. My panic attacks would catch me at the worst times. I've had a few while driving and those are the worst. Trying to fight tears while feeling like someone's sitting on my chest would often bring me to my knees. 

One day I picked up the phone, called my mother and just cried. I was tired of feeling this way. I felt guilty that my son saw me at some of my worst moments because he didn't deserve that. I'd become a pro at trying to hide what was really going on to most people and no one knew but my parents and oldest sister. I knew I had to make a change. I believed that if I made the first step then God would see me through the rest. I got back into church, started reading my bible, and began going to therapy. My first therapy session was so intimidating I canceled the first appointment 3 times before I actually went. There were a few things I needed to deal with. Things I needed to come to terms with. Things I needed to accept and move on from. Today I can honestly say that I'm in a much better place and I'm able to "do life" much easier than I could before. I have my moments at times but it’s nowhere close to what it’s been in the past. Therapy and church are still very important pillars in my life that keep me together and I'm here to tell you that there's nothing to be embarrassed of mamas. Take care of your mental health. Take care of you. Life is hard sometimes. We get curve balls through at us all the time but we've gotta dig deep and be strong. Get the help you need if you're struggling.  You have to start somewhere!

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