By Jasmine J. Moore
Growing up a brown girl with strong women in your family can be quite an experience. Oftentimes, I was around so many strong personalities that I would often have to compete for the attention that I desired from them. Our family structure was very unique in the sense where the mindset and overly critical views that our matriarch had was passed down through every woman in the family, their daughters, and any woman that may have been influenced by them. There was constantly a paradigm shift in my mind when adversity would arise. Opinions and responses to certain situations would become grossly different when comparing myself to the other women or girls around me. I did not desire to take on this role as a strong black woman because I saw how it was destroying not just my family but the other families that were dominated by women in my neighborhood.
What is wrong with me? Was my view on what a strong black woman was or should be distorted? I felt trapped! I was confused. Every day I would see how we constantly put ourselves in these situations where we must wear a mask of strength and body armor to shield our heart and emotions. We wear helmets over our heads to disguise the mental anguish we were enduring. It is unhealthy, painful, and circles back to the stigma that the black community need to release when it comes to mental health. To us a chemical imbalance or the inability to properly deal with your emotions is a sign of weakness or you are just flat out crazy. For this reason alone, I hid my mental health issues for a long time until I began to see what is accepted and how damaging our acceptance of the wrong things can further damage us as a community for future generations. Being a single mother and doing everything alone was appreciated by the women before me because they assumed that role as well and glorified it. However, I did not.
No matter how much I knew that God was my source through this situation, I kept the mindset of I did not need a man or person to help me or bring me out of this place, but I was so wrong. I needed the help, resources, and a positive support system around me to help guide me through this trying time. It was too hard to do on my own, and there was always that misconception that I had to do it all on my own and be strong throughout whatever came my way, just like the women before me. I unknowingly idolized the tough skin they had and the praise from those who did not have the education to see something was wrong with this scenario. Watching them press through everything that was thrown their way, ignoring their mental and physical health, unrealistic expectations, and being afraid of failure is what resulted in me being admitted to a psych ward for evaluation after attempting to overdose on pain pills. That was the day that I realized that being a strong black woman was killing me as well as the women around me. Sister, today I tell you that you do not have to accept this label and your help and sanity will come from God (1 Peter 5:7), but only if you allow him in your life.
Sometimes we feel as if we have to wear a mask and shield ourselves so people will not be able to see our mess, however wearing a mask through your pain, ignoring yourself, denying your symptoms is the beginning to losing your mind! I was worried about the labels I would receive by the ones who loved me and the ones who claimed to be my friends. Fear set in when I saw my strategic planning of my life had fell away from vision board I made and I was beginning to feel “different” about life. We must all remember that fear is nothing but, false evidence appearing real- and we do not have to conform to that. Your purpose and sanity lives on the other side of fear. The stigma that surrounds mental health is very real and even more prominent with black women. We are so afraid of not being “found out” that we hide from our reality, which in turn can hurt us more than it can help. I took control of my mental health and so can you! I broke generational curses; the same chains that you have the strength to break. You just have to believe and lean on the understanding of God (Proverbs 3:5-6) to see you through. Most importantly get the help you need and talk to someone. Today, decide to no longer feel ashamed (Isaiah 61:7) for what others may see as a weakness, reclaim your joy and live your life abundantly.
Jasmine J. Moore is a Motivational speaker, Philanthropist, and Purpose Partner that has been a Social Worker and Counselor for youth and women for over 10 years in her hometown Atlantic City and adopted home of Camden, NJ. She is a wife, mother, daughter, sister, and mentor to many young women who she identifies with in many unique ways. After her debut as an author and receiving great feedback from Because No One Told Me, she understood there was a need for healing amongst women. After receiving from clear direction from God she birthed this creative piece, with an ongoing theme showing women that their “Scars don’t have to be Permanent.” Connect with her on Instagram.