Last year at the end of October, I began searching for support groups because I knew I couldn't possibly be the only woman who struggled with postpartum depression and anxiety. I randomly found a group; Postpartum Support International of Alabama (PSI-AL). I then met with the local coordinator, who introduced me to group support sessions. Had it not been for them, I would still feel guilt and ashamed. For the longest, I regretted my decision to go back to work after having Clarkson. I thought no one would have known my secret had I just stayed home. Or no one would have been able to say, ”we told you it would be hard, we tried to tell you.”
Now, three years later and another baby on the way, I'm thankful that my struggles were revealed because it allowed me to become an advocate for new moms who may experience the same feelings I did. I only went back to work because society tells Black women we're ”strong Black women”. We have babies and can get back up the next day and work for our families. By the time I knew I was sick and no longer felt like myself, some of the people we reached out to didn’t even believe my husband's phone call. They said she looks fine on social media; you all look okay. She's not depressed you all just bought a brand new house, she's in school, she's been working over 40 hours a week, she’s been commuting an hour to work, people drive further than that, she’s fine.
I wasn't fine. I was in the middle of a mental health crisis with no support other than a husband who was lost and had no one to turn to because I looked fine on social media. I probably would have still been working had a Black Administrator who I barely knew, didn’t sit me down and say, “you need true therapy, we don’t do that often, but you need it.” I was full of tears and could barely hold a conversation to ask for a graduate assistantship to complete my Ph.D. I told my husband, and he said, ”do you trust this person?” I said yes, he said, ”then listen to him and leave your job.” I believe I trusted this person because, for the first time, they felt like the people I had attended conferences with over the years. Jerrel and I are forever grateful to this person because we would have never broken the cycle of pain had it not been for those simple words.
In my next blog, I will explain how therapy and group sessions opened my mind up to the trauma I had been experiencing. I will explain racial trauma and how it's a real thing that people seek therapy for. After the protest, we had this summer and the videos we've witnessed, I hope you all have sought out support. Shea Family, we have to protect our mental health. We also have to address racial biases in the health care system. I will discuss the issues we had seeking professional help in a later blog post. It wasn't as easy as you would think to find doctors who knew how to treat a Black woman who's in a mental health battle.
If you feel inclined, donate to Postpartum Support International to help continue to educate people about postpartum depression and mood disorders, so no one ever has to feel alone. Click the link and learn more.
On August 23rd, at 11:00 am central time I will share how I found Peace in Troubled Waters.
32 looks good on me because I choose therapy!