Until You Use Me Up

Have you ever given too much of yourself? I mean, you gave so much that it drained you mentally, emotionally, and physically? Well, welcome to the club! I used to think that the only way to show that I cared about someone was to give too much of myself. You may be wondering, if I do not give my all to a person, how will they know I care?

I have been in two major relationships before I dated and married my husband. The first one was puppy love. I met him when we were 18, and I just knew I was in love with him. Every time he would call, I would do everything in my power to answer. I was so focused on loving him; I did not notice he was taking advantage of me. One time we were sitting in his car, and he kept sighing. “What’s wrong, Babe?” I asked. “Man, I’m broke,” He said, holding his head. “I have no gas, but I wanted to see you.” I started thinking to myself that I had to help him, but I only had $40 to my name. Then I thought to myself, “But he came all this way to see you.”

“What do you need?” I said, taking his hand from his head. “I need like $20 bae.” He said, looking at me like a sad puppy. “Well, I have $20 I can give you,” I said, reaching into my bag to grab my wallet. “Naw, I cannot take money from you, baby.” He said. The look on his face, however, was saying something different. He was looking like, “Come on and show me the money.” “Here,” I said, holding out the money, “Take it, babe.” His eyes perked up, and he took the money from my hand so fast that it felt like a vacuum sucking up dust. “I’ll pay you back.” He said as he leaned over and kissed me on my cheek. Let’s just say that he still owes me $220.

My second one was emotionally draining. I thought he was the one, but every time something would come up in his life, I was the first person he would get rid of. I had to fight to keep him around. “Stop calling my phone Ariel,” He shouted. “I told you when I am ready to talk to you; I will!” “Why won’t you talk to me,” I cried. “I want to help you; I love you.” My phone beeped to let me know he ended the call. I would cry myself to sleep because I wanted him to let me in. He went as far as blocking my number and blocking me on social media. When he was ready to be bothered with me… I mean ready to be loved by me, he would unblock me and asked me to forgive him. It took me a while, but I decided to let him go. He was very upset about that.

I told these stories to make this point; if you are giving more than you are receiving, it is safe to say it is not a relationship you need. We cannot continue to fill everyone’s cup while you sit around being thirsty. Again, how do you care about someone without emptying yourself? You set parameters in your relationships. You let them know what you will and will not do. A relationship is all about give and take. If you are giving more than you are receiving, you are cheating yourself out of the love and respect that you deserve. Also, do not let anyone make you feel bad for saying no. That is your right to say no. You have to know when enough is enough. You can love someone without draining your pitcher, and if they do not like it, so be it.

Is It the Devil Or Is It an Illness? How the Black Community Handles Mental Illness

“Just pray about it,” This is what most black people hear when it comes to mental health. “God will take it all away.” Do not get me wrong; I am a Christian, but just like you cannot pray away Diabetes, you cannot pray away mental illness. Why is it that black people feel that having a mental illness is something that cannot coexist with our faith in God? Someone once told me that my mental illness is the attack of The Enemy. The Enemy? Again, I believe in God, but I also believe that God will give us things that he feels like we can carry.

In 2 Corinthians 12:1-10, Paul speaks about a weakness that he has. He continues to say that he asked for God to take away that weakness, but God would not. Paul said that God told him that he could be strong with that weakness. Paul, in verse 10, realizes that embracing his weakness will make him strong. I guess this may be something that Church folks omit. God even challenged Job if you rather use the Old Testament instead of the new. We must stop making our weaknesses something that the Devil placed on us and know that God gave us the power to handle it. Do not let anyone make you feel like your mental illness is an evil spirit. It is okay to pray to God to give you wisdom and direction, just like it is okay to go to therapy and take medicine to manage your mental health.

Black people, we have to understand that mental illness is not going to go away. If you continue to sweep it under the pile of dust will become bigger. We are seeing our people suffer on the streets, and instead of helping someone get help, you turn our heads and say the Devil got in them. Please family, I am begging you, stop taking mental illness as a curse and start looking at it like you do Cancer or Heart Disease. We can only get better if we are feeling to take the blinders off and face the truth.

#BlackMentalHealthMatters

Dealing With Bipolar

Dealing with a mental illness like Bipolar Disorder is like flipping a coin, you never know what you will land on until the coin hits the ground. One week you are on cloud nine talking a 100 miles per second, and the next week you do not want to get out of the bed to take a shower. It has been about 6 months since I found out that I have Bipolar Disorder. Here is my story.

“Justin, I do not know what is wrong with me,” I cried to my Psych Nurse. “I have had these weird mood changes.” Justin looked at me with concern in his eyes. See, we thought that my agitation was coming from my anxiety, but from the look he was giving me, I could tell it was much deeper than that. “Well, tell me about them, Ariel,” Said Justin.

I began to tell him about a time that I was watching a video on Facebook that was something political. I stood in the middle of the living room, ranting for about an hour while my husband Donta set back with surprise. I did not even know how long it had been until Donta told me. I told him that it was important and that he needed to listen to it. I yelled, “Our freedom is not something we can sweep under the rug.” So, my husband, being the supportive man he is, continue to listen until I tired myself out. This was not even the first time I have held my husband captive by my many rant sessions. Then I told Justin of a time where Donta and I disagreed about something little. When Donta said to me that he did not want to fuss about something so minor, I ran to our room and cried for three hours. It was nothing I could do to stop it. Even when Donta came into the room to hug me and tell me everything will be fine, I still kept crying. That crying spell lasts for a week. I was like a weeklong rainstorm; nothing could get my tears to dry up.

“Well, I know what the problem is,” Justin said reassuringly. “You are Bipolar.” “Bipolar?” I questioned Justin as if he was not the one with years of experience in treating mental illness. “I am so damaged.” “No, you aren’t,” Said Justin. “Your mind just handles things differently from others.” After we talked about the medicine that I would be taking, I walked out of his office with a little clarity. I was afraid, but I knew that I would be okay if I kept myself knowledgeable about my disorder and set my appointments with my Therapist.

If you feel like your world is spinning out of control, do not deal with it alone. Seek help from someone that can provide you with the tools and treatment to get you on track to handling your mental health. Do not think because you have a mental illness that you are broken; you are not. You are strong and built to handle your mental illness. Keep your head up and continue to live in the moment.

#Bipolardisorderawareness

Facts Over Feelings

My session this week in therapy started like this. “I cannot do this anymore! I want to be away from anyone and anything!” The reason why I said this comment to my therapist was that I had an incident during a work Zoom meeting.

Here’s the story: We have been working from home for six weeks. Each Tuesday, we have a group meeting to discuss how we were handling working from home and how our clients are doing. I have been so anxious since we started these meetings, so it is safe to say I am over this conversation. As my co-workers were going around saying positive words and tips, they are giving their clients, I set with this look of agitation. Yes, I forgot that people could see my face. I did not care. I am at the point of screaming. So, after an awkward exchanged I had with one of my co-workers about how children can in fact sit longer than 5 minutes, it was time to wrap up our meeting. One of the managers asked this question that really got under my skin. The question was, “what is one word could use to describe what kind of support you need right now?” Why this question? Can you actually support me? With the mess I have going on in my head, you really think you can SUPPORT ME? Everyone went around stating their word that would describe the support they need, as I sat there with the same look of agitation.

When my manager asked me about my word, I said, “I do not have a word.” Everyone began to look at the camera like I was on trial. My manager softly asked, “There is nothing we can do to support you, Ari?” “No,” I said with remorse. Now I feel like a B-word. I feel worse now, because everyone is probably wondering what is wrong with me, and why I am so dismissive. When the video called ended, I closed my laptop down and began to weep. “Ariel, why would you say that?” “Everyone was looking at you.” But it was too late to think about that; the damage was done.

When I told my therapist the story, she asked me a question that I would never think of asking myself. She asked, “With all the things that you mention in this song, what were facts and what was just your feelings?’ I instantly drew a blank. “Did you answer the question?” My therapist asked. “Yes,” I said, wiping tears off my face. “Well, that is a fact.” She said smiling at me. “You cannot let your feelings get in the way of the facts, Ariel.” She is right. I could dwell on how my co-workers were looking at me or worry about them talking about me to each other, but what is the fact? I do not know if anyone will have something to say about me, but what I do know is that I answered the question in the best way I could do.

We all have been in a situation where we focus on what others could be feeling about us. We lose sight of what is going on at that moment. We cannot control anyone’s feelings, but we can control how we manage our emotions during a stressful situation. We should try to think about the facts before jumping into our feelings. With sticking to the facts, we know how to proceed on our journey through life.

#AriSpeaksOut

Worst battle. What I know vs. What I feel.

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