mental health matters

this past february i reached out to a therapist. i did a google search, scrolled past a few faces and her smile, name, and afro spoke to me. i emailed her and told her i realized i need help and she told me that was a big first step and that i could call to make an appointment. five months later i had my first session. it took me 5 months to accept that i cannot go on like this; angry, frustrated, depressed, anxiety-ridden, and trying to manage it by myself.

in our first meeting she asked where i wanted to start. before i could complete a full sentence i was in tears. i shared the weight of firing an employee because leadership “hadn’t heard good things”, the look on the person’s face as they fought for their job, the internal emotions because i was the henchmen, the anger at leadership for transferring the burden to me and anger toward the employee for not acknowledging culpability, recounting the times i gave the person feedback about what they needed to do and shared commentary from other leaders that was less than favorable. the hurt i felt when the employee penned a letter to the chro and implicating me, stating that i had been informed of racial and sexual discrimination. i was stunned and angry that i was not permitted to see a letter implicating me in something nefarious. i told her that i hate my job, feel like i am not in a role that capitalizes on my strengths, rather this role reveals my weaknesses. i told her i feel trapped because i can’t find a new gig, i’m in school and this isn’t the best time to move, and that i feel every message from the pulpit is telling me to “be still.” i told her that i never imagined i’d be staring at 45 and doing all of this, managing all of this alone. i only have 50 minutes so we didn’t make it to the weight of a relationship that is unhealthy, complicated, built on desire, and a need to fill the emptiness.  that i wonder how it is that others move so fluidly through this life, unfettered by the rules, norms, mores, tenets of scripture while i am wrestling with my truth.

she asked me what i do to unwind, what kind of self-care regimen do i have, what do i do to disconnect. i stared blankly. i had nothing. the things i used to do, many years ago, i don’t do now. my mind runs constantly from thing to thing (wash dishes, cook meals, daily exercise, drink enough water, eat vegetables, make my well woman visit, get a mammogram, get an eye exam, prepare for the next semester of classes, pay down my school loans – now, finish this powerpoint deck, complete reviews, make a hair appointment…) the list never ends.

she pointed out that “highly functioning people” (read: high strung) require routine and have difficulty when something impacts their routine. so true. i left work last week to retrieve my groceries that were 2d late in arriving. i got home 2h after they were delivered and the ice blocks were melted the meat was lukewarm and i was red hot. who knows how long my groceries sat on a fedex truck and here i drove all the way home to get them in the fridge only for them to be laced with salmonella from being on a delivery truck for hours. i told her this story and she said, what is your backup plan? *blink blink* again, blank stare. go to sprouts and buy groceries. she said, order them. you have the menu, just order them from a local grocer or amazon. simple solution but my mind was thinking of replacing the food service with another one. when you are one person, you must have backup plans. if i can’t get home, who can pickup my package? if i must drop off my car for repairs, how will i get to work? if i must have surgery, who will drive me?

i was watching queen sugar the other day and after her diner was vandalized, vi looked around and said, well worse has happened to me, let’s start cleaning up. each person who stopped by to help she embraced and gave them a wan smile and thanked them for coming. i knew that emotion. the smile on your lips but your heart is shattered because someone has threatened your dream. just when it seems that all is well, or will be, you are met with a ball of confusion and a wall of disaster.

two weeks ago i took my car in for an oil change. they came up with a list of repairs and i decided to go forward with two of them. i got my car back after a couple of days and found a dent and a scratch on the front bumper. it wasn’t there when i dropped the car off and here it was, clear as day. my sister called me just as i walked in the door and i nearly broke down. she said, just breathe, what happened? i sent her the photo. she said, don’t let that go, tell them what happened. i was livid. first they tried to charge me $1200 when the quote was $950 then the dent. i didn’t have a smile like vi, i had rage and anger. i messaged the service advisor and demanded an explanation. he said they would check the cameras and if they were in the wrong they’d make it right. he then said, they were having issues with viewing the footage but they would resolve it (they did). he claims they viewed the footage and although there are blindspots, they did not see that anyone had damaged the vehicle.

i don’t have words of comfort, advice, or encouragement for my fellow sbfs. what i can say is i am doing the work. i am hopeful that weekly counseling sessions with a licensed professional counselor will help me deal with my feelings, my anger, and help me to create a plan, a way to move forward when i feel trapped; equip me with tools to manage disappointment and discouragement.

sisters, if you are in a similar place, find someone impartial you can talk with. utilize the employee assistance program (eap) at your job or if money is the concern, go to a local church and if all else fails, find a confessional! i implore you don’t wait; whatever you need to do to replace negative thoughts with hope for your future, do it, because you are worth it.

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