A, bb appreciation prose 🌹
I’m concerned for the life of Lamar Odom and the perception of what he is going through. Mental health is so stigmatized and ignored that it becomes volcanic in the sense that people rarely pay attention until things have erupted. We have watched this man struggle with traumatic events and drugs for years now. But we’ve ignored a silent cry that our ears haven’t been conditioned to be able to hear.
I hope people aren’t deceived to believe that the drugs are the problem. It’s a by-product of the problem that has been suppressed by himself likely as a result of the culture and disregard for mental health issues in society. Like who does a person turn to? Better yet how do you translate a plethora of feelings and emotions in your mind and communicate that to someone who could potentially help? It’s instances like this that I’m reminded of my passion for bringing awareness to mental health. I want to create a space where people don’t feel alone. Where people can talk and recieve resources. It’s too important. I want to target the youth so that the generations behind me may have better opportunities of dealing with mental health as real and getting the help they deserve.
I told my dream to just a few people. It’s very specific. And I find myself becoming more eager to achieve it. The dream is becoming more detailed and vivid with each story like Lamar Odom’s coming to the surface. Mental health issues are real and can result in the end of someone’s life. I don’t want the world to wait anymore until people die. It’s tough going through anything mentally but there are precautionary actions we can take to help people everyday with their mental health and therapists and prescriptions don’t always have to be the only answer.
I’m dreaming of a substantial change in our culture. A simple smile, compliment, conversation could go a long way. I’m not saying it might work wonders medically but that there’s the potential that if we encourage our society to be more open to one another and make it more acceptable to not be okay sometimes and feel able to express that then we’re making a major step. I asked a guy on the metro “How are you feeling today?” And he looked at me like I was crazy. Like 1. Who actually talks to strangers on the metro? and 2. You care about how I’m doing today? Bizarre. I could tell it took him back a bit and I’m thinking why is this not normal. We have conditioned our people to suppress suppress suppress and get deeper and deeper into ourselves to the point where we have successfully isolated a population of people who are not ok to suffer in silence.
I just want better. I want little black and brown kids like me especially to know that you don’t have to just suck it up. You don’t have to deal with it on your own. You don’t have to be okay all the time. Vulnerability and weakness are not synonymous. There’s hope through each and every hardship. Life does not have to be this spiraling staircase downwards into this dark and scary place where it’s just you. There’s light. And I want to help spread that light.
For my senior capstone I’m a part of a group taking the initiative to teach 3rd-5th grade students about their mental health and stress. Not in a very sciency/serious/complicated way. It’s just teaching them about different emotions and how there are no bad emotions but life is about balancing those emotions and using healthy coping mechanisms throughout your different circumstances. I don’t think I’ve ever done a more important project than this one I’m about to produce. It’s too important. Life is too valuable and too precious to continue to let people suffer and suffer and suffer. Someone has to care. Someone had to do something. It’s too important.
She’s a Jewish, upper-class, 21-year old girl from New York. She stands at a slim 5’4 with luscious dark brown curly locs flowing all over her shoulders to contrast with her porcelain like skin. I’ll never forget the light in her smile the first day I met her. It was so bright! almost blinding. She was super lively and just had a great positive energy. But I’m always weary of liking my roommates. Because I’ve had too many bad experiences where they get comfortable, take advantage of my kindness and then things get awkward. However, seeing as we both have similar majors and interest in fields that people don’t really talk about or teach in schools (i.e: women’s health/ mental health) we started to form a bond. We’d have these random explosions of passions and hours-long conversations, teaching one another as we shared some of our personal experiences and things we’d learned in class.
But if you’ve ever followed me on snapchat or twitter, you probably know I’ve been frustrated with how messy our apartment has become. My blood began boiling last night, where for the zillionth time she’d told me she’d clean up and she didn’t. I was livid. I felt isolated in our already small place. I was irritated I couldn’t eat dinner at a table, instead I had no choice but to eat on top of my books. So I whatsapped my father and asked him for advice because I felt myself zapping on her in the morning. I prayed. I went to sleep, bitter.
Then I woke up this morning to pray and I found clarity. There was a stillness in the morning that was so beautiful to me and as I rolled over to see my fathers response, I realized he was right. And I looked over to see her sleeping so innocently, almost childlike, and I thought, “where did her smile go?” I walked around the trash filled apartment with clothing and books sprawled everywhere and had a disturbing memory of the similarities of how my room looked when I was really depressed. “She must be going through something,” I reasoned. She’d always been fairly tidy when I first met her as she’s this vegetarian striving to live “green.” She makes her own laundry detergents and deodorants and everything! “Where had that girl gone?” I pondered to myself and decided I have to say something. I wish someone had noticed… or said something before I got too deeply lost in my mental. So I was up for a while. just waiting for her to wake up. She does. I awkwardly start the conversation and instead of approaching it like “YOU need to clean up because I feel uncomfortable” I really wanted her to know that I was concerned for her but to also be firm about letting her know that the apartment was officially out of control.
We ended up having a heart filled conversation about how she’s been feeling depressed. She’s a transfer really having a rough time with the AU community and being in DC in general. And though I mentioned she’s upper-class and much apart of that 1% who pretty much will always be good no matter what (unless God forbid, every member in her family died), you would never know. She’s so humble. She’s just like a regular girl and she’s smart, funny and thinks critically of the world. So I decided to share a bit about my story with her, through teary-eyes and a bit of a shakey voice to let her know, “I know what that feels like.” She was saying something to the extent that she doesn’t feel inspired here, she doesn’t like it here. And I shared with her how when my dad would come get me from school I would feel like that *hands-up emoji* just to get away. But then on Sunday when he’d get ready to take me back, I’d “go to the bathroom” before we left and really just have a panic attack on the floor. streaming tears with both hands covered over my mouth so he wouldn’t hear. Because I did not want to go back to this place that reminded me of so much trauma and pain. After sharing and she cried a bit, I encouraged her to do whats best for her happiness because that’s something I never made a priority which is why I was so miserable for so long.
She thanked me for the conversation and agreed that when you and your environment look better you feel better. So as she hopped up and started cleaning, I started to see the light emerge in her again. It was the most beautiful thing to be a part of! She really opened my eyes to how I can use my story and vulnerability as my strength and to help others. And for that, I’m eternally thankful to Pamela.