You have a mental illness; you are not your mental illness. This was one of the first lessons I had to learn on my journey to learning to live with my mental illness. I was diagnosed with a mood disorder, bipolar disorder, personality disorder, anxiety, and depression! This was after I attempted to take my life at only sixteen. Think about that! It took an attempt to take my life to figure out I had a mental illness! I never knew what was wrong, but I knew something wasn’t right. What eight-year-old wants to start self-harm. How could I have all these things and never know? How could I have all these illnesses and nobody ever notices? These were questions I first asked myself after I was diagnosed. I knew they existed but being a young black man enduring the stigma around mental illness in the black community, I believed it wasnʼt a “black people thing”. Seriously, I was scared. In my mind, my life was supposed to be over, but now I have to learn to live with my illness. I never wanted to take my life. I just wanted the pain and sadness to end. That same pain and sadness stemmed from an illness no one knew I had for sixteen years!
As time went on everything went back to normal, well at least for everyone else. I saw a therapist. This was another thing I thought black people didnʼt do. It made it feel like there was something really wrong with me. As I look back now, I feel so bad because I was so stubborn! I was more ashamed of needing help than driven to get help.
There are two ways to learn in life. The smart learn by example, and the stubborn learn from experience! As I got older, I accepted it, but still ignored it. Things became unbearable again, but I promised I would never try to take my life again. Iʼd rather break down and keep a fake smile than hurt the ones I love! The last time we talked about my mental illness was during the time I was first diagnosed, so it made me feel like they didnʼt want to talk about it.
I prayed but only to be better. Then I came across spirituality. That was the best thing that happened to me! It taught me to start loving myself and gave me a sense of understanding. Things that were so simple, but never taught anywhere. Meditation is a huge practice within spirituality, and I gave it a shot. The clarity I got from discovering that I am who I am and not what I have. I learned that what I needed to pray for was the guidance to help solve my problems instead of wanting them to be solved out of thin air. Faith without works is pointless, after all. Not only did I gain the confidence to begin my healing process, but I was able to open up about it. I reminded myself, “Youʼre a black king, nothing has ever or ever will keep you down!” Itʼs okay to go through the motions, but donʼt become the emotion. Experience it and let it pass”. The wonders this did for me. When I felt my depression kick in now I would say to myself, “Itʼs okay, you know what this is, let it do itʼs thing, but donʼt let it take over. Remember youʼre in control. This illness is just something you have”!
I felt in control for the first time in my life! Itʼs funny because when you heal God will send you others to help heal. I feel like this is my calling! Making others aware of mental illness and helping others heal and find guidance through my experience, so they wonʼt have to go through the same painful trials I had to. I want to reach people before itʼs too late! I understand that everything I’ve been through was necessary so I would have the knowledge to help others. Wisdom is healed pain. Kings & Queens, I encourage you to reclaim your royal self! Remember your worth and that you can conquer all. Be true and most importantly be you! Think of it as a daily practice. Each day you put in work, and you gradually get better! Some days will be harder than others, but those are the practices that sharpen your skills the most. Honestly, I wish I started sooner, but I trust the Lord’s timing. Six months of dedicated work can put you years ahead! The crown never falls, but sometime it will tilt. Just readjust and keep ruling your life, Kings & Queens!
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