This is my very first Spotlight, on any woman in particular, and I am so proud to introduce you to this amazing woman who I met just a few months ago, during what I thought was the worst emotional roller coaster of my life.
In the middle of a pandemic, I felt like my voice didn’t matter, like I as a woman didn’t matter. No friends, few allies, and completely alone in the world, I billed myself as the only Mixed Race Brown Black woman talking about Mental Health in Canada. It was great for my numbers, however I now know, that’s not true.
Despite what people might think, it’s not easy being a woman of color in a country that pretends that women of color do not exist.
For centuries in Canada, the needs, desires, wants, and hopes, of women of color have been ignored. Growing up, the only real woman of color us mixed race or Black women had to look up to was Oprah, and while she did a wonderful job for our parents, many of us didn’t relate to the things she talked about.
Until it came to topics of mental health, poverty, and sexual abuse.
Yesterday I spent the entire evening watching The Crown, there’s a scene in the show where Michael Finch – a man who broke into the Queen’s bedroom says, “I don’t have mental health issues, I am just poor.” I felt that to my soul, even though I do have mental health issues.
Today my friend, and sister BudSista Anya Nicola posted a post on her Facebook page, in which she discussed what it means to deal with mental health.
With permission, these are the words that Anya Nicola shared with the world.
“Sertraline/Venlafaxine/Citalopram/Mirtazapine/Fluoxetine/Escitalopram/Klonopin/Buspirone/Abilify the list goes on! So if you’re unlucky enough to know what these tablets are, then I don’t have to describe to you what this post is regarding.
But if you don’t I will fill you in.That medication allows people to deal with a normal day to day life.
Although most days it leaves them tired, spaced out and emotionless. Crazy right?
Why would anyone want to feel like that. Well this is why.You see some people suffer from depression and anxiety. In their brain it doesn’t sit right, something seems different.
They notice little differences that ‘normal’ people wouldn’t notice. That comment you didn’t tag them in, but you tagged other people? They see that, and say to themselves why didn’t you tag me?
What’s up with me? You read that message they sent and they see that you did, but you didn’t reply.. why didn’t you reply? And they feel like they have done something to upset you?
You didn’t say I love you on the phone.. do you not love them anymore? Do you love someone else instead? They just made a comment about them was it a joke? Was that person supposed to laugh?
Or did they mean it? Are they being nice? Are they talking about them? Do they talk about them? And they then think I bet they don’t like me really. They say sorry all the time.
They feel like they annoy everyone. Are you mad at me? Because they feel like you’re mad at them ALL. THE. TIME! And for all those questions they will spend hours trying to answer.
Let it all build up in their mind, until it sends them to tears… it’s mental isn’t it! They see things that way. It’s not only mental changes, but physical changes. They don’t eat a lot, mainly rubbish, because they need it now and need the energy from lack of sleep.
Insomnia, up all night answering questions to situations that don’t even exist, or sleep too much and waste half their day still feeling tired. They still smile and they have every excuse for when you ask why.
But the tablets can help them. Because they know when they start to feel this way or think this way, they need help. They know that when their behaviour starts to change, they need guidance.
And they understand that they don’t need to be ashamed. They don’t need to be understood. They just need to be accepted. Everyone is fighting a battle and sometimes you need to be kinder.
So I may just be another person who’s talking about mental health. Living with this illness is hard, but trying to understand it, is even harder. Don’t suffer in silence.”
For the first time in my life, I feel seen and heard, even though I don’t take those specific medications. For the first time in my life, I feel like there is someone in the world who just gets how fucking hard it is to exist as a woman of color, much less a Black woman.
We are told that we’re supposed to be strong, that we’re supposed to be powerful, and that we’re supposed to have all the answers. But what if we don’t have the answers sometimes? What if we just feel like we’re dragging and we just need time to heal? What then?
Then we look to women like Anya Nicola who does have some of the answers, who does know what it is like, who’s been where we are.
Earlier this week Anya told me that she’d had a couple of moments when she broke down and cried, and felt useless, and I thought “my hero needs a hero too.”
It broke my heart to think of my friend hurting, but it allowed me the space to acknowledge that sometimes, we just don’t fucking have it. Sometimes we just don’t have the energy or the desire to get up and kick ass, and that’s perfectly okay.
Anya Nicola started a brand new blog this year, and in this pandemic she is out there in the world, a soft whisper, or a gargantuan laugh, to remind me to smile, checking on me when I am trying to hide out, and just genuinely being the kind of friend I didn’t know existed.
I am highlighting her not because she is a good friend, but because the work that she is doing on herself, is being done so that she can help others and I think it’s time we start celebrating ALL the Loud Mouth Brown Women focusing on Mental Health and life after trauma.
If you would like to visit Anya Nicola you can do so here.