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Bipolar Griot

Until recent years, throughout the African American community, there was a general consensus that therapy and mental health issues only concerned white Americans or people of affluence. Also, mental health treatment was not an option for most African Americans who were struggling financially. I believe that African Americans’ history of mistrust of doctors due to medical experimentation on blacks is also a reason for this belief that mental health issues were something others had to deal with.
I'm a woman with mental illness and being single has been a conscious choice for me for the last two years. I felt that I needed time to get my life on track and grow into the woman I’ve always wanted to be. Growth is never-ending and getting one’s life on track is a process, but there were major issues I wanted to address before dragging someone through a dysfunctional relationship. Now that I’ve addressed some of my major issues, such as mental illness and abandonment, I feel that I’m ready to date and want a fulfilling relationship that results in marriage. As a woman with mental illness, I'm ready to be open to love.
In Kanye West’s new album, "Ye," he discloses that he’s bipolar and says it’s a superpower. Does this diagnosis explain his antics and what he should do with his fame
I am Kara Lynch and I am happy to be joining HealthyPlace as the new author of "Bipolar Griot". I'm excited about this journey of sharing tips and tricks for living a successful life as an African American woman with bipolar I disorder. Like anyone fighting mental illness I definitely struggle, but my goal is to continue to grow so that I may be resource and inspiration to other African Americans battling with mental illness.
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The holiday season is very difficult for many people, especially individuals who have a mental health diagnosis. The stressors are quite abundant and memories of past trauma can trigger an episode for many people. I often try not to internalize "the madness" of the holiday season. This includes the stress of holiday shopping, gift-giving, traveling, family interactions among other other possible triggers. I usually distract myself with far more interesting ideas of hope, help and happiness.
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Coping with a chronic mental illness or mental health issue is a deeply personal endeavor. Yet the irony of effective treatment is one's ability to be open about this very personal struggle. Freud had a therapeutic concept called the "talking cure" which within the context psychology is a very specific type of psychotherapy. But I think if we generalize the theory and apply to our everyday lives it can also be helpful.
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Whether you have a mental health diagnosis or not, life is difficult and stressful. Triggers, that can activate or increase your mental illness symptoms, are lurking everywhere. They can be family-related, work-related or health-related. That's why I'm a big proponent of engaging in behaviors that are preventive and proactive rather than reactive.
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Once a person receives a mental health diagnosis, the mental health recovery process can be long and difficult. Often, when people see a "healthy-looking" person that has a mental health diagnosis, they aren't aware of the actual timeline of the person's recovery. I know, for many individuals such as myself, it takes years to become a fully functional and a thriving individual again.
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The cultural differences between African-Americans and other racial groups has created a chicken-egg phenomenon within the mental health community. Are the disparities between the racial groups due to institutionalized racism and the lack of resources for minority groups? Or are there disparities because Black people and other ethnic groups choose not to discuss their mental health problems and participate in treatment? I would argue that it is a bit of both.
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It has recently been confirmed that United States Congressman, Jesse Jackson Jr., is being treated for depression. For approximately seven weeks, Jackson Jr. had been absent from his congressional duties but the public was never made fully aware of why. Unfortunately, there is still a lot of stigma inside the Black community regarding mental illness. Bipolar disorder, depression, schizophrenia and other severe mental illnesses have very negative connotations; especially when associated with men of color. Men, regardless of ethnicity, who acknowledge any mental health struggles usually have their masculinity questioned. This usually prevents us from seeking diagnosis or treatment.
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