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The D Word : How To Know If You Are

The D Word : How To Know If You Are

The D Word : How To Know If You Are

Written By: Tamara McKenzie
Before you start your day, you hear news of another black male being the victim of homicide. On the way to work, you venture into deep thought about who would miss you if you were gone. Your emotions begin to dance around the notion that your expected life span may not be that long.

You let out a deep sigh as you exit your car to walk into your job of the last three years. At work, you feel undermined by your white colleagues. You have been denied a promotion two times. You feel targeted at work and in society. The media constantly perpetuates images of individuals that look like you as predators. Your level of stress drives you to drink nightly and you’ve recently become socially disengaged. The things that once bought you pleasure no longer interest you. You wonder where it went all wrong. You often flashback to when you woke up and felt motivated to tackle the day.

After work, you drive your usual route, but you feel overwhelmed, hopeless, and begin to fill with rage. You turn to the one person who always makes you feel better, your mother, but she doesn’t answer. You try to decompress on your own, because as a man, you can handle it. You desire change, but feel like you’re drowning in the world around you. In this moment, you realize that you are having more than just a bad day. Your bad days have turned into weeks which have turned into months. So, what’s next?
Emotional wellness is an important part of our existence that is often overlooked. The heaviness of life often weighs upon us and if we don’t seek an outlet to realign and find balance, we can find ourselves in a depressive state. Mental health is a taboo subject within the African American community, but race certainly doesn’t shield you from being affected. Repression of emotion increases stress which is directly correlated to heart disease and stroke. A new University of Florida study finds that 65 percent of African American men over age 40 are at high risk of having a heart attack or stroke within the next 10 years. A combination of emotional, physical, and nutrition wellness all tie into these statistics. It’s important that the African American community, especially men, begin to focus more on their emotional health. Let’s explore ways that men in our community can implement better emotional well being:
  1. Find Support: When facing difficult situations emotionally, it’s common to reach for coping strategies that numb the pain. Drinking, drug use, and even sex are distractions used to try and momentarily relieve stress. Unfortunately, these strategies can become self defeating and do not solve overall problems. Reaching out to a professional provider such as a therapist is ideal, but if you aren’t ready for that step, finding a trusted source of support is beneficial. Find someone that you can be honest with in a nonjudgmental environment where you can express yourself.
  2. Master Your Energy: Mindfulness encourages the mind to live within the present. The mind has a tendency to relive painful emotions or create irrational fears for the future. Breaking negative patterns of thought helps with overcoming depression. Let your mind meditate on positives you can find in the present. Start of by developing positive affirmations that you can meditate on each morning or in moments that trigger depressive thinking. Direct your energy to a more positive state instead of allowing negative thoughts sink your energy level.
  3. Take Action: When experiencing symptoms of depression, it’s common to isolate or spend time sleeping. Depression makes you feel that you can’t accomplish anything. Instead of letting your life succumb to inactivity, involve yourself in activities than can facilitate change. Try identifying both short term and long term goals for change. Commit to an action plan regarding achieving those goals. By engaging in this momentum, you will transition yourself mentally into a healthier state.

In addition to the above steps, remember to love yourself. Embrace the positive and negatives of life and use those lessons as a foundation to build upon.

If at anytime this process begins to feel overwhelming, know that you are not alone despite what your mind tells you. Never lose sight of the light that shines within you even during your darkest hour.


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