I decided to switch some of my previous blog posts around to focus on cultural competencies in the health field. I also want to note that I have a Master of Science degree in Educational Leadership with a Concentration in Student Affairs. I'm not a licensed therapist, but I do have personal experience, and I'm writing these blogs to advocate for Black women who are experiencing higher rates of Maternal mental health and are less likely to receive treatment. When fighting for equity and social justice, you can't always be kind, and you will step on toes, and people will feel fragile. That means you are sifting the room, so let's shake some tables, Shea Family.
My first experience with a therapist went well until I told them the root issue and what I was experiencing in the workplace. I expressed that I was told I was the angry Black woman, and I needed to tone down my voice. In an immediate response, I was asked, "What if you are the angry Black woman?" This quick to judge reply left me silent and confused. I left that day, and I vowed never to go back to counseling until I could find a Black Therapist. I want to add that there are amazing, culturally competent therapists, but this was my first experience as an adult Black woman coming into my own identity as a new professional. Those words and the words of others hurt deep, and my anxiety began from that moment. Since being in constant therapy and group sessions, I have realized I had signs and symptoms of anxiety well before depression.
One significant sign that I experienced during postpartum was continuous hair loss, which exceeded the typical loss known to be experienced during this period. I remember my husband telling me that he didn't think much about my hair coming out because I started having issues with my hair once I started working. He said, "I thought it was just your body changing." My husband is an engineer, not a therapist, and not a mental health expert. I've never been able to do my own hair; as a Black woman, I speak for myself, and my crown is beautiful, but my lack of self-care and knowledge has abused it.
It's easy to tell people to go to therapy and seek help, but if the people you are seeking aren't culturally aware, it leaves you just as lost as you were when you walked in the door. Shea Family, we have got to start educating ourselves and our community on these issues. We have to start protecting ourselves and our family members. I spent years doubting myself and staying stuck in a dichotomy of do I speak out against issues and stand up for Black students and risk my White students feeling like I'm leaving them out? If I say the wrong thing in a meeting, will someone judge me and say I'm speaking out of context, and I don't understand the campus climate. I walked on eggshells, and slowly I began to accept things for what it was, and I started to self-isolate. The environment I created for myself was toxic, and it was because I no longer knew how to advocate for myself. In my next blog, I will explain my healing journey and how anxiety led to depression after having my first son Clarkson who I dedicate this blog to. Thank you, Clarkson, for coming into my world, eventually, I would have crumbled, but I rose because of you.