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To mentally ill black girls who feel alone.
A love letter of sorts to mentally ill black girls like myself who may feel alone in their struggle.
*Previously published as a guest post two years ago for a blog series called “For Black Girls Who..”, and currently published on Medium. A recorded version of this post can be found here on TikTok*
I want you to know that mental illness doesn’t discriminate. This isn’t something exclusive to those who don’t look like us.
I want you to know that you don’t have to show up as the “strong black woman” all of the time — actually, you’re never obligated to do so.
Please, take the cape off.
Most importantly, I want you to know that you are not alone. I see you. I am you.
I know your days are dark and your nights, long. They consist of unsuccessfully trying to turn off your brain while it convinces you to believe all of your irrational thoughts. Especially the ones telling you that the only relief you’ll get is through death.
I am familiar with the periods of loneliness and paranoia that creep up unexpectedly. Suddenly you feel that it is impossible for anyone to like or love you, and you are certain that everyone who claims to do so is only pretending so that you stay here. You feel they’ll be better off without you and won’t notice your absence, or worse, maybe they’ll enjoy the release of your presence.
There are days when you look in the mirror and see a face you no longer recognize staring back at you. Your eyes, so glossed over and sad, obviously belong to someone else. Your nose is suddenly misaligned. Your high cheekbones have sunken slightly. Your lips are no longer full. And suddenly your melanated glow has faded to a pale hue. “Who are you?” you likely ask yourself–sometimes out loud.
Guilt. Shame. Exhaustion. Fear. Confusion. Defeat. Hopelessness.
All emotions that regularly plague your mind. The highs are impeccable but sometimes dangerous, and the lows are debilitating and life-shattering. You feel crazy.. like you’re losing your mind. Some days there seems to be no fight left in you to try and cling to the last bit of reality slowly slipping from your grasp. It feels like it would all be easier if you just let go. And see. Just see if there’s true peace on the other side of this. But you continue to fight for your sanity. And despite all of this, you find a way to make it through to the next day. And the next day. And then again today.
You’re not broken, and neither are you crazy. You’re not unworthy or unloveable. You’re not a burden, you’re not too much. You’re not lazy or pitiful. And whatever else the world is trying to get you to believe that you are. The truth is, you have “a clinically significant disturbance in [your] cognition, emotional regulation, or behavior.” It is okay to call your illness by its name and acknowledge your thoughts, feelings, and lived experiences.
They are a part of you but they do not define you.
If no one has told you so, I’m proud of you. I see you. And remember that I am you. So you are never truly alone.
Who I write for.
In the comment section of the TkiTok voiceover of this piece, a woman who is not Black commented “is this for all human women who feel alone in general? Asking for a friend.” She proceeded to argue against my singling out of Black women in my post, even after reminding her that it was a piece written in response to a writing prompt specifically for Black women.
I know that everyone, regardless of race or gender, can struggle with mental illness and feel alone. And I am overjoyed to know that my readers who are not Black are still able to relate to my words, even when they aren’t centered.
My writing is for anyone and everyone who can benefit from it. But, it is ESPECIALLY for Black women. Unapologetically so. We don’t have enough of our voices who speak candidly and publically about experiences with mental illness so we are my first consideration whenever I am opening up.
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