A is for Anxiety

From Kid Cudi to Kanye West and all the way to Halle Berry and Jim Carrey it is pretty hard to escape stories about people with mental health issues. The crazy thing is, is that I grew up on Cudi. His album artwork covered my walls, yet him speaking out about his mental health sparked a conversation that I guess with the great power of retrospect, his old music should have.

 

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The birth of the #YouGoodMan sparked a long overdue discussion about the taboo of mental health in black communities, particularly amongst black men. The pressure for black men to maintain a hyper-masculine image at all times because anything less than that would lead to not only a question of his ‘manhood,’ but also his sexuality. But this isn’t an ode to the fragile masculinity that can be washed away if they dare use anything other than body wash or facial creams ‘for men,’ this is about mental health, and the many things left unsaid.

I can’t speak for Cudi or West but I can speak for myself. It always annoys me when people use the phrase ‘mental health is real,’ when referencing someone who suffers from mental health. As if, it is some kind of conspiracy, hidden by the social and political elite. But what bugs me the most is that I get it. It’s a lot bigger than a race thing. But sometimes it takes hearing the horrible things that happen to people as a result of it to recognise just how real and powerful it is.

When I say that it is much bigger than a race thing, I also mean that it is also a faith thing. How do you combine 2 Timothy 1:7 with your feelings of depression or anxiety? When I was about 16/17, I was told that I get tremors as a result of anxiety. Could my tremors be taken away by self-discipline? Would I be being naive to think so? God’s Word is a powerful tool that can be used to help you figure out the difference between truths and lies. But…

…at times Christianity and mental health sounds like an oxymoron and that is part of the problem. For me, 2 Timothy 1:7 has two purposes, in many ways it is like an anchor. If tied to the boat, it helps it stay afloat, but if tied to a man, it can be the very thing that drowns him. During your good times, scriptures can remind you of God’s promises, but for anyone who has suffered from anxiety or depression, they will know that at times, they can lead to a feeling of inadequacy. Questions such as; is my suffering a result of my faith, am I being punished, where is God and is He real will occur.

This post wasn’t written to be a self-help post. I wrote it with the intention to spark a discussion. How do you combine your faith with your mental health? Sometimes, your faith might not be enough. And that’s ok. It’s ok to ask for help. It is ok to be down, but it’s not ok to stay down. When that time comes, it is necessary to talk to professionals, or even family or friends about your problems. You don’t always have to be strong.

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