Do you shy away from discussions dealing with Mental Health? Guest Post!
Hello doll!, happy November the year is almost over. Was 2018 all you hoped it would be, did you incorporate any new habits targeting Self- Care and Mental Health? You know I am always advocating for that especially in these crazy times. I don’t want to get into all that is on the news but I thought I would ask fellow Blogger friend Rowana Abbensetts from Spoken Black Girl to join me today and share her views on Mental Health and the effects it has, especially in communities of color.
Rowana is an advocate for Mental Health, who shares her own experiences through her writing and now also through her on magazine! She is also about to have her first baby so I am excited to hear her thoughts on motherhood, self-care, and mental health. Click the link above to visit her magazine and read more amazing, empowering stories.
I believe it is most important now more than ever that we focus on our mental being. It can be very easy to fall into depression and sadness and feel hopeless when you are surrounded by constant depictions of inhumanity. Let’s welcome Rowana, and hear what she has to say:
Rowana, welcome can you tell me a little about your background and how Spoken Black Girl was born? Thank you for inviting me to Mommywood, Mari! My name is Rowana Abbensetts and I’m a Caribbean American gal from Queens, New York who is passionate about mental health advocacy. After experiencing anxiety and depression throughout my life and realizing the degree to which mental health issues are stigmatized, particularly for Black women, I started blogging about my experiences to find community. Last year, my blog blossomed into Spoken Black Girl Magazine, a publication meant to amplify the voices of women of color who are seeking a life that goes beyond surviving and embraces self-care, holistic wellness, and self-love.
How valuable do you consider Mental Health conversations to be in our Communities? As a mental health advocate, I believe talking about mental health is extremely important. Stigma fighting takes time. It takes being uncomfortable. It takes reaching out and showing up authentically for others. Communities of color too often sweep mental health under the rug, a dangerous habit, since poor mental health is eroding our communities in so many different ways. If we want to remain resilient in these difficult times, we have to prioritize taking care of our mental health - no one else will. These days our news reports and social media feeds are filled with trauma and violence. It’s not normal to be able to withstand continuous trauma and carry on as if everything is okay. We need to actively heal our communities.
In your opinion or perhaps even experience who do you feel needs more attention when it comes to Mental Health? I find that people usually dismiss children and teens who struggle with mental health issues because they are so young, but mental illness can present even at a young age and there’s a much better chance of helping kids learn coping skills if mental health issues are addressed at a young age and not ignored. Stop hiding mental health discussions from kids. It perpetuates stigma. Mental health does not always mean something bad. Talk about what good mental health looks like so that kids know when they are experiencing poor mental health. Talking about it doesn’t create poor mental health, ignoring the conversation does.
Should parents/mothers make self-care part of raising a well rounded human being? Should expected mothers become more comfortable with methods that address their mental state during pregnancy? When kids see their moms taking care of themselves, they internalize the lesson that it’s okay to care for themselves. This message is especially important for girls, who, from a young age are often taught to serve and accommodate everyone else. Mom is the first example of what it means to be a grown woman. I think it’s important to show that women love themselves, stand up for themselves, and nourish their own growth.
When it comes to pregnancy and mental health, postpartum depression usually dominates the discussion, but mental health during pregnancy is also incredibly important. The dramatic hormonal shift that takes place in the body can send pregnant women into a mental/ emotional tailspin. For me personally, as someone who is predisposed to anxiety and depression, I have always been very sensitive to hormonal changes. Early on in my pregnancy, I went through a dramatic shift in my mental health. Dealing with all of the symptoms of pregnancy while trying to wrap my head around becoming a new mom left me feeling low and hopeless. I felt like I needed to get my entire life together before I could be a good mom. As one of the first in my group of friends to have a baby, it was a pretty lonely experience. I started to go to therapy again and I stepped up my self-care routine. I had to scale back all of my responsibilities and learn to rely on my support system. A major lesson has been that it’s okay to let others take care of me.
Do you agree or disagree that men in our communities are lacking the help they may require to encourage care of their mental state? Mental Health is definitely stigmatized among men. Toxic masculinity creates the myth that men have to be “strong” all of the time, never explore their emotions and hold it all inside. This concerns me as a woman because men often take these suppressed issues out on women. I want all men to understand that it’s okay to seek help. There’s nothing wrong with going to therapy and doing something to better yourself and live a happier life. No one has all of the answers. Struggling doesn’t make you weak, it’s an opportunity to grow stronger in a healthy way.
As a bonus... I love giving extras!
Now that you yourself are an expecting mom. How have your views, feelings changed about women, balance, health, family & love? Do you believe we can have it all & still have healthy mental state? Yes, I do believe that women can have it all. I must admit that when I first got pregnant I was worried about falling behind with my career, but although I’ve definitely had to slow down to take care of myself, I haven’t seen any major career challenges come up as a result. It’s almost as if taking care of myself has led to me being even more productive! Who knew! Of course, I have no idea what challenges I’ll face when the baby arrives but I’m sure I will be able to adjust at that time as well.
Rowana thank you again for visiting the Mommywood family and for sharing your perspective on Mental Health. I especially enjoyed your take on having it all, I like the positive view. I feel “having it all” means so many different things and for women in particular it can come with some guilt. So balance is key for sure. Best of luck with the new baby and my Mommywood crew don’t forget to visit her over at Spoken Black Girl.
Let me know your thoughts and experiences. Share your journey and what you do to take care of your Mental Health and that of your loved ones.
Always stress-free xo,