This week more than ever, I’ve come to realize that I have direct access to the connect. I’ve been facilitating plays for the last few months now and I deserve some form of compensation for it. You’re probably thinking I’m self-incriminating right now, but I would hope you’re not downplaying my intelligence to that low of a degree. No, I’m not Franklin Saint, yet I have a straight line to what you need - therapy.
For quite some time now, I’ve been fielding requests from friends and family to provide the contact information to my therapist. He’s worked with me for close to a year now, I’ve made some advances in my life through some intense sessions and my own willingness to “do the work”. Therapy has taught me to take ownership of what I can control and be at peace with the many things that I cannot. I’ve discovered some underlying issues that were brought to the surface that I’m still working through and finding out more about myself that I would care to know. My therapist is amazing, no wonder so many people either want to use his services or have him work with a loved one. It’s an added bonus that he’s a Black man. That shared experience has been invaluable for my counseling.
We’re fighting battles internally and outwardly. Not to engage in Oppression Olympics here, but Black men face a unique set of challenges. We’re routinely underemployed, face discrimination in the housing market, and have been a target for law enforcement. Those issues combined, plus more, can create an internal environment that triggers depression or anxiety. Go ahead and add in post traumatic stress disorder caused by things witnessed or experienced. We all have our varied levels of trauma that we’re dealing with, yet many of us mask them through sex, substance abuse, or projection.
In a perfect world we’re running optimally to be the best versions for our families and ourselves. Realistically, we’re being depleted through depression and anxiety. As much as mental health awareness has been stressed in the last few years, many of us are still not taking the opportunity to get the help we sorely need. As costly as therapy can be at times, there are free alternatives through your employer’s EAP (employee assistance program) that can connect you directly to a professional counselor. If you’ve climbed the corporate ladder the amount of years that I have, a little bit of counseling can go a long way. As Black men in the corporate world and those of us in leadership positions, the stress that comes along with that can be debilitating. More often than not we take that stress out on those we’re here to protect.
In no way am I qualified to recognize mental health issues or diagnose them, however I’ve seen the symptoms I’ve experienced reflected in others. We can’t keep the stoic facade up for too long. It will crumble, just like the relationships we strive to protect because we’re not seeking out the help that we need. Strength is exhibited through the various ways that men protect, provide, and enhance our communities. Somehow, someway we need to be vulnerable enough to express that same level of strength towards ourselves.
What I’m Listening To
Outside is finally open for the rest of the nation (we never closed in Georgia) and that means some of the top tier rappers are beginning to release material. J.Cole released one of the more anticipated hip hop albums this year with The Off-Season. I salute his efforts to live out his dreams by playing basketball professionally, but the selfish part of me wants him to continue rapping until he’s an old man. Stand out tracks on this album were “95.south”, “my life”, “100.mil”, and “pride.is.the.devil”.
Did you know that May is Mental Health Awareness month? This month has had that designation since 1949 and founded by the Mental Health America organization. If you need help or know someone that does, you can find more information here.
“I couldn't rest, I'm barely standin'. About to go to pieces, screamin' peace. And though my soul was deleted, I couldn't see it. I had my mind full of demons tryin' to break free. They planted seeds and they hatched, sparkin' the flame. Inside my brain like a match, such a dirty game.” - Tupac Shakur