I just watched the video of Kanye West at his campaign event in South Carolina, and all I can do is cry. Not because I have love for him as an artist, or because he’s black like I am, but because I suffer from the Manic Monster within me as he does. Just like Kanye West, I have Bipolar Disorder, and the Manic Monster does not care who you are or what kind of money you have if it wants you, it will take hold of you.
Before I knew that I had Bipolar Disorder, I would catch myself doing a lot of rants as Kayne West does. There was never a real rhyme or reason for them; I would just keep going and going until I would tire myself out. One day, I cussed my husband out for an hour straight about how he does not understand that when he does not tell me when he is leaving one place to another with his friends, it will make me think that my husband is dead and I would not know how to find him. I could see the look of concern on his face as I began to cry and yell about the level of love I have for him, and if he loved me on that same level, he would not make me think that he is dead. The Manic Monster inside me had control over me, and I could not fight him off. It was only until my Psych Nurse let me know that I was Bipolar that I could figure out a way to fight back.
I want you to understand that a person who has this mental illness cannot help it when the Manic Monster comes to get them until that person is willing to find help from a mental health professional to fight against it. Kanye West needs help. He does not need a room full of people to encourage him to keep this energy up, or people to say how crazy he is. He needs someone willing to help him understand that it is okay to seek the help he needs. Kanye is in the dungeon of the Manic Monster, and if he wants to get out of there, he will have to fight his way out. Until then, I will pray for him. He needs it.
I saw this journal prompt that I want to share. The prompt said, how do you set boundaries and avoid absorbing someone else’s emotions and stress? I had a big issue with set boundaries when it comes to absorbing someone else’s stress and emotions. I like to call myself a mother by nature. I want to make people feel better. I did not realize, however, that the more I put my all into someone’s issues, the more I felt drained. But to me, I thought that was what you do when you are a friend. I did not understand this until I went to therapy that I was a empath, and it was doing more harm being this way than good. I would not only have my stressors to deal with but now I am taking on the stressors of others without even knowing I was doing so.
How do you stop? We have to learn that we cannot fix the problems of others. It is not our battle. You did not create the stressful situation they are in, so why do you have to take on the responsibility to pull them out? I am learning that it is okay to listen and not jump into action because the person is upset. Sit down with your friends and family and let them know that although you love them, you cannot wear their stress and a coat. Understand you do not have to be a hero to be a friend.
“Ariel is going to school for her Doctoral Degree!” “Ariel is a Director at a childcare center.” These are the statements that my mom makes to people about me on a day-to-day occurrence. I always tell her to stop telling people all of that stuff, but she would just roll her eyes and continue her “Ariel is the best” Parade. I do not feel that I am as smart as my mom and other people think that I am. I feel that I do enough to get by. Man, my therapist would be so upset with what I am saying about myself. But that is how I feel. I feel that I need to push myself harder to be what people think that I am. Ugh! Anxiety, you are such a jerk for making me think like this.
Maybe I need just to take what people are saying to me as encouragement. Perhaps I should stop being so hard on myself. I have to get out of the way and do the best I can. I do not have to be perfect to get things done. I do not have be a genius for people to give me praise. My mom is not saying I am smart because she’s my mom; she’s saying this because she believes in me.
Now the question is, Ariel, will you believe in yourself, or will you allow your anxieties to beat you down?
I cannot believe we have been together for this long. Understand Fear, and I am not happy with this relationship. You keep me locked in a box and have me second guess everything I do. There have been moments in our relationship; you have made me not trust the people that I love the most because you put thoughts in my head that they were not good for me. You also would make me distance myself and run away from my dreams. Fear I cannot find a happy moment with you, and you know this. So why do you want to stay around? Is it because you like it when I am beating myself up? Is it because it is funny seeing me throwing up because I cannot handle the stress? Whatever it is, I am done with you, Fear.
Please do not call or write to me to talk me out of this. I have nothing else to say to you. We are not a good fit any more Fear. You are only good for making me hide instead of fighting for what I want. I hope you never do this to anyone else. Stay away from me; I do not wish to deal with you at all. I am over being controlled by you, and I am ready to be happy.
Dear Little Ari,
I am sorry that you are hurting. I am sorry that you did not get the love that you wanted from your daddy. You are such a beautiful and smart little girl. He does not know what he is missing. You are going to become a wonderful and loving person. You will find a husband that will love you, and all the things you think are flaws. You will reach every goal you set because you have a determined spirit. Will you long for your daddy love? Yes. But you are going to make it. You will have happy days, and when your days get tough, do not be too hard on yourself, little Ari. You are human, and it is okay that you make mistakes.
I want you to know little Ari that you are loved. You are perfect just the way God made you. Do not change yourself because you do not fit a mold that was not designed for you. You have nothing to prove to anyone. Have fun, and do not overthink the things that are placed in front of you. You are very strong, even though this may feel like your lowest point. You have the heart of a fighter, and you will win at everything you set your mind to do. Do not give up on yourself. You are not a failure. You deserve anything you wish for and then some. Your mama is proud of you, and she believes in you. The support you will get from your mama will be enough to keep you going. Understand that you are not to blame for the hurt that was brought to you. Keep Smiling little Ari. You are a star in the making. I love you!
Ari from 2020
It can be somewhat easier to forgive others before we forgive ourselves. Why is that? Don’t we owe it to ourselves to forgive ourselves? Let us dive deeper into this topic. Yes, I have a story to tell. 😂
My last job I was as an Academic Advisor for a college. One thing that I loved about the job was watching students finishing their degrees and feel confident that they can reach any goal they set. The thing that I disliked about the job was the politics. I felt the school only cared about having students packed in the classrooms instead of making sure students were ready for their careers. There was a time where we had a student that was suffering from a mental delay and could not focus on passing the two classes she was taking. She failed two semesters, and my manager, the Dean of Students Services, wanted me to place her in another major so we can hit our registration number. I had to fight my whole team for them to understand that this student was not going to be successful in a college that cannot meet her needs.
When I left, well, when my manager got mad because I placed my two weeks’ notice in and she made me leave that same day, I felt so bad. I thought I was letting the students down who came to me for advice and a shoulder to lean on. I also thought that I was letting my husband down because I took a major pay cut. I went to my new job, regretting my decision to leave. I thought that I was selfish, and I did not deserve to be happy. I went to therapy two weeks after leaving my job, and I cried, “I made a big mistake.” “How so?” My therapist asked. “Because I not only let my students down, I let my husband down.” My therapist looked at me and gave me a kind smile. “Were you happy there?” She asked.
I started thinking about the things that I did not care for while I was there. “Not at all.” I said. “Sounds to me like you left to save yourself from being miserable.” She explained. She was right. Had I stayed, I would have been depressed and possibly had a mental breakdown from the stress. “You did not let anyone down,” my therapist said, “You freed yourself from being hurt.” Then she said, “Forgive yourself, Ariel.” After that session I went home, I looked at myself in the mirror, and I told myself that I forgive me.
I said all of that to say this; we need to be kinder to ourselves. We should not beat ourselves up because of what others think about our decisions. We have to do what is right for us because we are the only ones that will know what fits us. Self-love is forgiving yourself for things you have done, or you think you did to yourself. Forgiveness is the first step in taking the baggage off of you. If you want to be free of the cloudiness that is around you, look at yourself in the mirror and tell yourself that you forgive you. Trust me; you will feel much better.
I saw a journal prompt that I would like to share. The prompt asks, What is one way your depression or anxiety has held you back this week? I want to tell you how my anxiety treated me this week, and hopefully, this can help others dealing with their depression or anxiety during this pandemic.
Monday, I wanted to go to the store and pick up some things for my husband and me. As I was going to the store, my stomach was doing flips. I went into the store, trying to gather myself. I went down every aisle I needed to go on and quickly went to the register. I thought I was home free. “You can make it, Ariel,” I said to myself. Then it dawns on me, “I forgot the chips!” I yelled out loud. I did not want to go back into the store I left out of, so I went to a small convenience store. I went in, got the chips my husband wanted, and ran back to the car. My stomach is doing the Salsa at this point. It was taking every fiber in my body not to make the mistake of throwing up on myself. I did that before, and it was not pretty. I pull into the driveway, thinking that I am in the clear, but as soon as I started taking bags out of the car, I had to throw them back into the car and throw up all over the grass. It took me about 10 minutes to gather myself and continue to unload the car. I did not leave out the house for the rest of this week. Anxiety has a funny way of trying to “help” you out.
Although anxiety may have you feeling physically sick, we have to find ways to fight back. If it means to take baby steps until you can regain yourself, do that. Anxiety’s job is to make us afraid of the world around us, and since this pandemic has changed our world, anxiety is working overtime. Find peace and know that what we are facing right now will not become the norm. Pace yourself, love yourself, and above all, listen to yourself. We can make it!
“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.