In May of 2018, MLNNNYC dedicated Sister Social 2 to Mental Health Awareness. We invited our peers Fearless Wendy yogi and marketing strategist, Jazzy Belle community organizer with a Masters in public Health, and Amaara Lynn educator and wellness advocate from CurlWhatever to share in the importance of self care and mind, body, positivity. As we dove deep into our hidden pains, sisters began sharing all of their truths. They knew who we were but did they know our back stories? Did they understand the true intention behind this beautiful space we created? MLNNNYC has decided to create our first collective piece of writing to honor our sincerity.
Message from our Founder Shavonne Taisha:
Mental Health has been a huge part of my reality. From suicidal thoughts, and personal attempts to repetitive toxic decision making - it has been imperative for me to find the healing that worked for me. Before therapy I would overdose on poetry, scribbling every thought until one day I could no longer write pain. Everything hurt and yet, I was afraid that I would have to reread my writing and experience it repeatedly. When my main mode of expression became tainted, I began exploring areas of my life that brought me joy candidly. I stopped overexerting myself in people and places that were unwelcoming. And for the days that I’ve survive, I’ve thrown myself a private party just me, myself, and God. I now cook more, dance more, laugh more, take myself on dates, go to my favorite artist concerts, make playlist for every occasion and create a schedule just for my thoughts. 7:45 p.m. READ!!! 9:30 - THINK! I spent all of last year in therapy unpacking my broken heart and I came to one conclusion, everything and anything can be fixed. Everyone can save themselves. You have to find what works for you. On the days I didn’t want to get out of bed. I’d lay there for hours, cry even, but I’d force. I’d do sit ups just to get my body moving through it’s numbness. Don’t be afraid to lean on others just as much as you lean on yourself.
Healing is not glamorous, its not meant to be. The more you unpack the harder it becomes, but once you go through all your bags the burdens become lighter to carry.
You not only deserve too live, but you deserve to live freely!!!
I Love You!!!
Message from our Director of Operations Zhané:
I didn’t truly take mental health seriously until my college days. Coming from a small community, Rockland County, and then moving to the city took me completely out of my comfort zone, which lead to a depression. I often found myself dealing with depression whenever I was outside of my comfort zone or when life didn’t go how I expected it to. With life, you have no idea what is going to be thrown at you (the good and the bad). I’ve learned the art of adjusting to any environment I’m in. I took time to figure me out, let go of control, and learned to be present in each moment. To continue to gain a stronger understanding of who I am and who I’m becoming. I paid attention to myself, my habits, my patterns. I started to work on my faith, spirituality. Whenever the feeling of worry found me, I chose to relieve myself of that worry because I know it’s not for me to carry; it was out of my control. It took being depressed on and off throughout college to make a conscious effort to understand why I was feeling the way I was. Being out of my comfort zone lead to depression in the beginning, but now it’s the complete opposite. All of my growth came and continues to come every time I'm out of my comfort zone. Once I took time to enjoy being alone and being comfortable in my skin, I found myself loving my solitude, loving myself more than ever. I found myself owning who I am wholeheartedly (the ugly and beautiful parts of me). Every new stage we enter in life comes with the possibility of dealing with mental health issues. We have to make strides towards working on ourselves, especially being people of color. I started doing the following:
Reading books/ learning something new/ doing research
Meditating (when I’m able to focus)
Listening to Soca or Trap when my vibration is low. Listening to R&B when I want to set a calm mood
Following people who inspire, motivate, and bring me laughter on social media. Love Black Twitter!
Doing yoga and just dancing more
Unplugging from social media and people when I feel drained
Spending time with my family and loved ones
Saying No to things that do not serve me and leaving spaces that aren’t for me anymore
Take time to figure out what practices will benefit you and bring you joy. We will always be a work in progress. I like to believe it’s how we elevate ourselves after each set back that brings us into a better version of ourselves. This month and every month going forward, take time to truly understand YOU. Love on yourself a bit more than normally. Celebrate yourself. And take care of you! You matter, always.
Message from Twanna:
Fear has always been at the root of all my mental health lows. Fear of failure, fear of success and the loneliness that comes with it, fear of losing control, fear of pain in general. I’ve let pain cause me to destroy relationships and opportunities in fear that I would get hurt again. Somehow, it made more sense to be at the root of my own pain rather than allowing someone else to have power over my emotions. At my lowest, I became a very angry person, very defensive and cold towards the people around me. I didn’t want anybody thinking that they could break me. So, I forced myself into this overwhelming numbness. It was like I couldn’t feel anything but anger. I began lashing out at the people closest to me because I had no other outlet for my pain. It wasn’t until I hurt my closest friends to a point that was irreparable that I realized I needed healing. I watched them literally become heartbroken trying to love me, all because I was afraid of what could come if I accepted that affection. At the time I had only known love that came with pain as a condition. Life had taught me that the people who were supposed to love you the most could cause immense trauma and pain. So what would stop someone else from doing the same? Me. Or at least I thought so; until I realized that my defense mechanisms caused way more harm than good. So, I prayed for a way out of all that fearfulness. I asked my friends to be patient with me. And I started incorporating things into my life that forced me to be open, honest and raw, like yoga and meditation. It was, and still is, a humbling experience for me. As I’m growing, I understand that I have a lot of work to do on my spirit but that it’s okay. We all have to put that work in if we truly want to love who we see in the mirror. All I can do from here is keep pushing myself past the fears I have. No form of therapy is going to work overnight. And so, I continue to incorporate different forms of therapy like writing, exercise, and simply telling my story in an effort to heal myself from the inside out.
Message from Noni:
Mental health was one area I’ve never really took seriously until I began evaluating the negative self practices that led to my poor self esteem and confidence. I was set on being a people pleaser and rarely ever put myself first. Due to those harmful practices, breakdowns were frequent and self care was nothing but a phrase. Nowadays, I try my hardest to be kind to myself with a few mental health practices that help me daily. A few practices include: reciting positive affirmations out loud, taking social media breaks, being kind to myself, setting boundaries and finding time to do the things that I love. Despite how good this all sounds, I still struggle with consistency and falling back into bad habits. The main difference is that with every day the better choice becomes easier to choose.
Message from Melyssa:
Mental Health has always has been an area in my life that was extremely tough to tackle and unpack. For such a long time I punished myself when it came to my mental health. I would constantly brush it off and somehow drown my sorrows with material things or most of the time, an unhealthy relationship. I always tend to ignore the feelings of being emotional, depressed, angry, or being incredibly insecure. I would quickly tend to suggest to myself that I was being “crazy” for feeling all of those emotions. The fact that I would even think I was “crazy” for feeling anytype of vulnerability already made me realize I didn’t know how to deal with my emotions. As black women, It’s hard to admit that we’ve experience traumas that have affected us in the ways we love, feel, treat others outside of ourselves. We carry burdens and pain that we have been taught to shield from the outside world. As well as shielding those feelings from ourselves. Searching for that overjoyed love through constant unhealthy relationships was only making me more dissociated from me finding the love and light within myself. Recently, I finally took the steps to seek help through therapy for those feelings that I would constantly punish myself for. My therapist, who is a black woman has finally helped me realize that it’s normal to feel vulnerable with myself but to create that bond with people that I care about in my life.
As you go through your journey carry the words of the late, great Neighborhood Nip “ Nipsey Hussle,” It is not a race, it’s a marathon.” Take your time there is no rush, your life is infinitely yours. We are not only rooting for you, we are riding with you. If you need a gentle reminder watch the video below!!!