Depression, Anxiety and the ART of Self-Acceptance

April 22, 2017

     I've consistently told myself I'm not thin enough, pretty enough, smart enough or good enough! These are the statements that we subconsciously store in our brain, but consciously suppress.  For me, I wanted to insure others that I was confident and self assure, but I would break into a spiraling anger behind closed  doors. This became evident in my actions towards others, especially my father. He sees me as this outspoken and confident adult, but has no understanding of how I got to this place of self-acceptance.

     I may say "I don't care that my dad was never in my life", but I do. I would admire the relationships my friends had with their dad because it was something I was missing, at least I thought. There I was at the age of thirteen, and wouldn't been able to tell anyone my dad's last name or identify him in a line up.  He was a father to my sister and brother instead me and thats a difficult pill to swallow. His lack of responsibility as a father has had positive and negative effects on my decisions that I've made (or currently making). Although he is not to blame for my negative or positive choices in my life. I still carry this feeling of guilt watching my mother struggle with finances, depression and her own mental illness, which had led me to resent her instead of my dad. I wondered, how could she let this happen? At the age of eighteen, I realize it wasn't something she could control because she left a lot issues with others unresolved.  What I didn't know was that all the pain and ridicule I felt, she experienced  as well.

     My mother had a mental break down when I was sixteen years old. It started with her cutting her hair then it rapidly progressed to her leaving her job, talking to herself, not eating and laying on the couch for days without movement. My journey with depression came shortly after. Anything I appreciated about myself, someone would come like a hurricane and break my spirit with negativity. I became depressed when I started comparing myself to others. The anxiety later came when I wanted to maintain what I thought mattered. I never thought I was beautiful, I would get teased for my lips, small nose. and the texture of my hair. If someone told me that they didn't like my outfit or hair, I would go to the nearest restroom and try to change something about it. I started to take others critiques personally and not realizing that there issue with me was "their" issue. I went from having a group of friends to having one. Of course my family said they loved me, but I sought validation from my peers and society. I couldn't understand why I made their opinions matter. 

       Mental Health is a important issue that sometimes in the African American community we ignore. I'm not cured of all my insecurities and anxiety but I'm a long way from the constant self-doubt I bestowed upon myself. The ART of self-acceptance is merely accepting your past and present experiences and moving forward. Who says you're not good enough, smart enough, and pretty enough? And who cares but you! I started to tune out dead people (negativity) a long time ago, and I must say I've been on the right track ever since.

 

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