Black & Bipolar

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3 Ways I Define Wellness as a Single, Black Woman with Mental Illness

I strived for wellness for years before pretty recently feeling like I had achieved it. It is definitely not something that comes overnight, and for me, it has to be maintained through daily preparation and hard work. I pray, exercise and work exceedingly hard at taking care of myself and I still have days where I miss the mark. But, as a whole, I am killing this wellness thing. Here are three ways I define wellness as a single, black woman with a mental illness:

1. Purpose

You can turn to any social media site, radio, TV station or magazine page and hear and see what you should aim to be. From surgically enhanced Insta models to multitalented, millionaire housewives on reality TV. It’s all there, and you’re fooling yourself if you think it doesn’t influence your view of yourself. Before coming to terms with who I was as a woman, there was a running reel of who I was supposed to be in comparison to the images and personalities in the back of my mind. I wanted to and thought I had to be great at everything until I found my real purpose and passion. In my lifetime, I’ve tried on a few different hats, and I was okay at wearing a few of them, but I am great at helping and inspiring people. Without going through depression, mania, and many other phases, I would have never come to this conclusion, and I would not be living out my calling. I’ve learned that even my worst days served a purpose in my life and so does yours. 

2. Autonomy

Autonomy is essentially the freedom to govern one’s self. This is a definitive part of my wellness because I have freedom of choice. I struggle, but my struggles don’t negate my right to choose. I choose how I treat my mental illness, what I put into my body and who and what I subject myself to. Even before my mental illness came into play, I lived my life in this way, but recently this became more real to me when I was exploring job options. Someone called with an offer, but it didn’t fit with the things that I want to do in my future. The pay would have been better than my current human service position, but I wouldn’t have the freedom to finish my education and write that I have currently. It is easy to feel trapped or stuck in life with obligations to our careers, but in all actuality you have autonomy. It could mean working a job making less money with fewer responsibilities for a season to have the time and freedom you need to pursue other interests in the long run. Autonomy is freedom and you, my friend, have it too.

3. Connection

Who I am as a single, black woman with mental illness gives me the ability to connect with people. On any given day I can go out in public and meet someone who’s struggling with something. Because of the things that I’ve learned on my mental health journey, I can give them little jewels that helped me when I was struggling. Also, it allows me to encourage them by letting them see that it does get better. This connection is two-fold. It uplifts the person I encounter and it uplifts me. These interactions serve as a point of evaluation for me. I look at them and see how far I’ve come, but they also allow me to see how far I can go.