Updated: Oct 31
By BLACKCHICKWHITEACCENT (BCWA)
In case you didn't know, there were a few mass shooting this past weekend. One shooting in particular stood out in a especially painful way. Ten black people in New York lost their lives in a racially motivated attack. Ten African American souls, lost to senseless hatred and violence. Jesus wept.
To paraphrase the character Miss Sophia from the Color Purple, all our lives we've had to fight! Hell, we've been doing it since the first slave ships touched these shores. Whether it was fighting for the right to be free, to attend school, or to vote, black people have been at the forefront of the fight for minority rights in this country.
However, every time we think we've made it, folks who hate us will remind us of our place in America. Sometimes it seems like our only purpose in this country is to take care of people, or to entertain them. Our complaints, fears, and protests demanding justice feel like they're being ignored. We're told there is no racism in America, and that our tormentors are just a few bad apples. So, really, nothing to see here. Everything is fine. Get back to work! -----
I don't want to make this political. It's bigger than that. But you can't ignore the fact that the month of May didn't get off to a good start. Women of childbearing age stand the chance of losing their rights to plan the size of their families. Inflation is through the roof. A war is raging overseas between a country fighting to retain its sovereignty, and one that wants to take it away. And our children are seeing this. Many kids are still reeling from the pandemic related school closures. The world seems to be going upside down, and sideways. Its like a carnival ride you can't seem to get off.
And of course, we all recognize that bad things happen every day. But for those of us who suffer from a mental illness, even the most innocuous of incidents can feel like a sledgehammer to our brains. The fear comes out, devolving into feelings of helplessness and hopelessness. Why should we care, when it feels like the world doesn't care? Why can't we seem to stop any of this from happening?
All of us at some point in our lives, have been frightened, angry, and depressed. However, we can't just sit back and let the darkness swallow us. We can't give up. We still have to go to work, school, etc. We still need to feed our familes, finish our studies, and try to put on a brave face for our friends and family, no matter what the challenge is. Because it could be worse. Our parents tell us that, just as their parents told them. In fact, 100 years ago, in 1922, it WAS worse.
Comparing then to now, seems like a reach. But it's important to put both time periods into perspective. There was no TV or Internet to escape into. Many of our ancestors were still picking cotton. A majority of blacks simply worked until they died. And treatment for diseases such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart and lung issues, were basically unheard of.
In addition, to that, the world was still reeling from the aftermath of the 1918 pandemic, which infected 500 million people worldwide, and killed 50 million.* It finally became endemic in 1920. There was no vaccine. It simply had to work its way through the population before petering out. -----
Life WAS harder. But black people pressed on. And they pressed on, because they knew that someday, their descendants would have it much better than they ever did. And we do. The "never gonna happen" moments have actually happened. We had a black president. We have a black female Vice President. And now we have a black female Supreme Court Justice. If you're in your mid 40s and older, your parents couldn't even conceive of such a thing. But here we are.
So, to quote the singer William DeVaughn, "just be thankful for what you've got." And even if you "don't got a lot," you still have more than your grandparents did. You're reading this on the internet. We truly live in amazing times.
All that being said, I am definitely not trying to dismiss the "down days." My down days fill me with anxiety. I get scared and depressed. But I turn those moments into productive moments. I clean my house, I make things like fun tee shirts, or engage in my favorite hobby, which is to write. Anything to keep my mind focused on everything but my problems.
And staying busy doesn't mean I'm frantic, or compulsive. I don't have OCD, and I'm not high on illicit drugs. I'm busy in a safe, and productive way. It helps me tremendously.
And that is what I suggest you do. Get busy on a new project, or complete an old one. Yard work this time of year is always good.
Planting flowers is also good for the soul. Two years ago, I was given 10 iris bulbs from the Conservation and Environmental Center. They have some free flower seeds they give out, as well as a flower sale once a year. Anyway, irises replicate fast, so now I have 30 irises! They're starting to bloom, in purple and white, and they are lovely.
I washed all my bed linens. I re-potted some of my houseplants. I know some of you lament the fact that you don't have a "green thumb," but there are some houseplants that are really easy to grow. As long as you remember to water them once a week, and replant them into bigger pots when necessary, they will reward you by staying alive. Houseplants are wonderful, and really add life to your home. I love my plants! ----
I get depressed sometimes. But I get up. Everyday I get up, I deliberately make myself get up, even if I'm still in my pajamas. My mom suffered from crippling depression. There were many days she couldn't get out of bed. I swore when I grew up, I would never let depression take over my life that much. And again, I know its easier said than done. But I get up anyway. I have to. People count on me. It's what I do.
And if there's one thing I've learned, with the assistance of medication and therapy, is that no one can love you better than you can love yourself. Not your parents, spouse, or kids. No one. And it's okay to love yourself, because you are one of God's creatures. You deserve love just as much as any other human being. So if you spend your days thinking that others are thinking negatively about you, step outside of yourself for a moment. Do you have a job? A car? A house, or apartment? Spouse and/or kids? Single by choice? Or cute enough to keep looking? Either way, the people in your life think you are special, too. They treasure you, just as much as you do them. And you've done a lot for yourself to get this far. If you've gotten this far, then you believe in yourself far more than you think.
After all, would s*** even get done without you present? No? Then you are useful. You are wanted, and needed. And there is love for you. You may not see it, or even feel it, but there is love. It's around you, and within you. You exist for a reason. So get out there, and start living your best life!
Remember, we can't control everything. So we need to continue to control what we can. We should fight for everything we feel we deserve. We are still here. There's a reason for that. Appreciate it. Embrace it. Live your life like you deserve it. Because you do.