New Series: The Mental Health Files

Fallen Chess Piece

Hisks via sxc.hu

Why is it so difficult to find good conversations about mental health? Especially when so many of us brush up against difficult situations that could define us or destroy us over the course of our lives?

I started thinking about this series last year when I watched a very good friend of mine go through a deep struggle with depression. She wasn’t the first person I knew going through that particular process, but she was the first person I was ever afraid for. Her mind was going to a dark place, and I was worried that she wouldn’t want to stay in this world for much longer. She’s still here, but it has been a long, rough process. I read and re-read the Ask a Model Minority Suicide archives, trying to find something that would help her. She already knew about the resources available–in fact, she knew much better than I did: the numbers to the suicide hotlines, the online support groups, the ways to keep on medication without health insurance. She knew how to navigate the system.

But it still wasn’t helping.

Around this time, I became more aware of how many of my friends were in some form of therapy or counseling: how some people became devotees of therapy and others found it lacking; how, as my friends and I get older, we realize exactly how much we’ve used various things to self-medicate. And how little we are told about taking care of all parts of ourselves.

But outside of planning a few interviews, I kept this series in the back of my head.

The only reason this series is finally seeing the light of day isn’t a good one: a little over a week ago, a work acquaintance sent an intent to commit suicide as the subject line of a bcc’ed email.

So, this series isn’t going to be perfect and planned. Maybe it doesn’t need to be.

Maybe it’s supposed to be a little raw.

Maybe it doesn’t need to be perfect to help someone.

I’ve got a few things I’m working on: a couple pieces, some interviews to set up, a public document to open. But, hey, we’re wide open. If you know of good pieces or have a resource or a story to share, send it to us at team@racialicious.com.

  • http://twitter.com/Crommunist Crommunist

    Two places that I know of that discuss mental health issues are WWJTD (http://www.patheos.com/blogs/wwjtd/) and Brute Reason (http://freethoughtblogs.com/brutereason). Both of these discuss it from a strictly and openly atheist perspective, and while the authors are sensitive to race as a social justice topic, neither author is racialized so there is definitely a niche there.

  • Grace

    Heeeeey, this is Grace! I’m getting reacquainted with The R now that I have “regular” internet access. (I had access on my phone, but a few months ago, the website stopped working on my phone. Got a new phone, website still didn’t work. O.o )

    I’m glad you’re bringing this subject up because it is a subject that is near and dear to my heart. I’ve cared about mental health/wellness/illness for a while now, but particularly after September 2011, when a good friend from undergrad committed suicide. None of us expected it, so it was a complete shock. Of course the wondering why, the wishing she could come back, the not understanding why a student leader didn’t go to the resources she knows exist, etc. A few months after that, I myself went through a very dark period. A few years ago, after some experiences in college, I began to wonder if I am bipolar. Thanks to shows like Law & Order: SVU and some online resources, I kind of understood the basics of the disorder and some really big things fit, but I still wasn’t sure. I never did anything after that. That dark period a few months after my friend’s death was mostly because I’d left college without graduating (took an online course to complete my last few credits during Spring of 2011 though), and had been working in the drudgery of retail. I was in a deep funk, to the point that I would wake up on days that I had to work and a deep, dark sadness would come over me.

    For me, a queer agnostic theist (bisexual Christian agnostic), I just prayed one day for God to give me the strength to survive, and I immediately felt a burden lifted. I do believe that it helped me in a big way. But as I type now, nearing the end of my first semester of grad school, I’m once again feeling what I felt back in college, and during my few years in retail. Although the burden of no longer working at Target has helped a lot, I do still think the lingering overarching issue (whether it’s bipolar disorder or not) never went away. As students/faculty/staff at my school can receive free counseling/therapy, I’ve begun the process of getting started.

    I’m hoping that getting a handle on this disorder, whatever it may be, will be the start of a new chapter in my life. Of course, although the (possible) symptoms of BPD started around the most common age range that the disorder begins in many people, I’ve also dealt with low self-esteem, partly fueled by long term sexual abuse, partly fueled by growing up as a young Black girl in America.

    I’m trying to take care of myself, but it’s certainly hard. :( I wouldn’t mind sharing my story though. I believe firmly in the power of storytelling. :)

    • racialicious

      Welcome back. Please feel free to write something longer! Maybe about faith, religion, and mental health? Topic was highly requested on Twitter but I don’t have that background.

      (Also, phone issue should be resolved – switched some plug-ins a couple weeks ago. However, you cannot read comments, just the articles. It’s on the to-fix list.)

      • Grace

        Thanks! :)

        Ha, if only. I have personal faith, but I’m not what most people (and not just mainstream Christians) would consider particularly “active”–I rarely even pray. O.o As an agnostic theist I generally lean more toward agnostic than theist, but I’m certainly both. I just believe what I believe and keep it moving–my roommate invited me to a Christmas play at Brooklyn Tabernacle. We went yesterday–that was my first time being in church (for something that wasn’t a funeral, or a concert my non-church choir had to sing for) in at least two years, probably more. But I’ll see if I know anyone with some kind of social justice-y background/understanding of privilege who wouldn’t mind writing about that. :)

  • SuperHyugaYoshichan

    When I get home, I’ll be sure to post this on Tumblr and make sure it’s boosted!