The Faces of Mental Illness

Just two days ago, I posted up an article about the superb actor Lee Young Thompson, who is famous for “The Famous Jet Jackson,” playing Cyborg on “Smallville,” and his current work “Rizzoli & Isles,” passing away. The fact of this death is that it was a suicide. The first question is always why?

  • Why did he kill himself?

Then comes what?

  • What led him to take his life?
  • What made him think taking his life was the solution?
  • What made him do this?
  • What was he battling?

All questions lead back to why

  • Why didn’t he seek treatment?
  • Why didn’t he think about the people he would hurt?
  • Why didn’t he talk to someone?

All these questions can never be answered because he is not here to answer them. Nothing is worse than being left with unanswered questions. However, mental illness is a serious problem. The popular face of mental illness is usually white and female, but that is not the only face of mental illness.

The face of mental illness can be Africans, African-Americans, Hispanics, Asians, Pacific Islanders, Native-Americans and more.

But the face that seemed the most shunned is Africans and African-Americans. There is a stigma tied to mental illness and depending on the background of the people with mental illness, they will refuse to seek treatment because of shame.

The history of Africans stolen and brought to the shores of current day America has been one of pain and struggle. To the point that the belief that Black women and men are strong and naturally bred for the harshest conditions has created a system that cannot recognize black pain or victimhood.

What does this have to do with mental illnesses?

This same system has created the myth that black people do not hurt, cannot hurt, and are super strong. This detrimental stereotype has led to black pain being trivialized, viewed as comedy, invincible, and ignored even by other black people.

How many times have you heard, “therapy is for white people,” “mental illness is for white people,” and so on.

These common held beliefs are false; with everything black people have suffered in this country, our pain is real and is deep and needs healing. The disbelief about mental illness being seen as a disease that doesn’t affect black people is born from our pain being trivialized.

The face of mental illness can be and is black and we must have an open discussion about it. We must break down the harsh myths about how mental illness affects the blackness, femininity of black women, and masculinity of black men. It is okay to seek help, to seek therapy. It is okay to need help.

I understand black people who are hesitant to accept medical help from doctors and nurses and hospitals because of the history of black people in America being used as test experiments.

I truly do ask that if anyone, especially my black women and men are experiencing any form of mental illness, please seek help. If you believe that you have no purpose on this earth, I beg you to reconsider. If you feel as though all hope is lost and the tunnel is darker and closing in, I plead with you to keep trucking. If you do not have a support system, people who understand, I ask you to look for a group that understands what you are going through. If you have a church and they have programs catered to helping with mental illness, I beg you to join and talk to someone who you truly believe can help you.

If you have the money and need someone to talk to, I beg you to please seek out a psychologist and if you don’t feel comfortable with the first one, don’t lose hope, keep looking until you find one that you are comfortable with.

Lee Young Thompson’s death hurt because there are so many children, teens, adults, and seniors who feel like him and believe that suicide is the only way out; it’s not.

I won’t pretend to understand mental illness because I do not know what it’s like to fight against yourself 24/7, but I do know what it’s like to feel like the world would be better without you in it or feeling down and out. I won’t lie God helped me, but I had to meet him halfway.

If anyone knows anyone suffering from mental illness and know any websites or avenues that helped them please list them in the comment section.

R.I.P Lee Young Thompson, you have left your mark on this world and will always be remembered and missed.

*****Also please do not try to become a therapist to someone with mental illness without the proper degree, educational knowledge, or effective experience.*****

Below I am placing articles concerning mental illness:

http://frugivoremag.com/2012/04/black-women-struggling-with-post-traumatic-stress-disorder-ptsd/

http://www.mental-health-today.com/resources/toll.htm

http://www.bet.com/news/health/2013/08/19/depression-and-african-americans-not-just-the-blues.html

http://www.lipstickalley.com/f85/10-prayers-fight-discouragement-530435/

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