African Americans and Mental Illness

Discussion on mental illness among the African American community is not discussed a lot. I mean I should know… My family had a hard time accepting my illness and medication. My mom just recently admitted that she was in denial of my mental illness and now is looking forward to attend an education class on mental illness.

But mental health is real among our people. And it needs to be addressed now. I have below a list of articles and a radio conversation not only revealing why African Americans do not seek mental illness, but how some African Americans have learned how to cope with it:

Why African Americans Avoid Pyschotherapy

Black Girls Don’t Get to Be Depressed

Mental Health and You

Do Whites Have a Mental Health Edge?

Black Folks and Mental Health: Why Do We Suffer in Silence?

African Americans with OCD: A Hidden Population and New Research

Guest post-Why Jesus Couldn’t Save Me From Depression

The Secret Life of Depression and Mental Illness In The Black Community 

Support From Work 2

Hey all! So continuing from the last article, “Support From Work” I mentioned how worried I would be finding a psychologist. But you know what? I completely forgot that I have a psychologist at my school! Duh! I’m at school again.  I needed my new psychologist to sign an accommodation packet for my job so I will be protected; also in case someone at the district wants to object to my accommodation. I had to schedule an appointment quickly at my school’s, “Counseling and Psychological Services” center, so I could meet with my job’s HR soon. Fortunately, I was able to meet with my new psychologist last Friday.

I know I should have done this earlier with my old psychologist, but like I mentioned before I was afraid of being treated differently at my job, as one of my  colleagues has done to me. But that’s what no longer what I fear… It’s this new psychologist. How good of a psychologist is he? Would he put his needs before mine? Would he scoff at my situation? Is he kind? Ugh… I had to start all over getting to know my psychologist and they were getting to know me. I felt he was more stern than my other psychologist. It’s weird. I’m nervous cause of how he serious is. My previous psychologist was so lighthearted. Hmm… I wonder how this will play out through the year…

Anyways, I asked him for two requests: one, for him to fill out the accommodation packet and two, to increase dosage for my depression, ‘cause I have been feeling lousy lately even when taking my depression medication. He then asked how many milligrams my medication was. I answered 75 mg. He looked at me astonished, “75 milligrams? That is very low! No one with depression ever taken a dosage that low.”

“Really?!” I said.

“Yeah,” He replied. “ Ask anyone who lives with depression. Your medication can go anywhere between 75mg to 450mg.”

Huh…. Then he asked me why I haven’t increased it. I was honest with and told him I was conflicted. My family was against me taking my meds. They felt my medication was making me worse. Though at the same time, I was still observing if my meds were making me worse or was the increased responsibilities I was taking in (moving, having four jobs, going back to school) or was this new sense of freedom that I experiencing from my mental illness making my anxiety and depression worse? I didn’t know. But that’s not what matters to me right now. What matters is I need a higher dose of my medication and stat! The physical component of depression has been hurting me very badly. So, he prescribed me 150 milligrams of my medication and continued prescribing my anxiety medication. And guess what? The medication is way cheaper at my school! My medication for my anxiety medication is $4.90 and my medication for depression is $15.75. That’s like a total of $21.65! $21.65! Usually I pay anywhere between $35-$45 at my local pharmacy. I have more money in my pocket! Whoo! Man! Being in school is awesome!

Next I gave the form from my job. He looked over the form, “So what you trying to get accommodated?”

“Being able to have a 10-minute break,” I answered.

“That’s it?” He asked. Jeez. He made it seem like it was so small.

“I drive to many locations at for my job,” I explained “but as I arrive at the location, my anxiety rises by a lot.” To tell you the truth, I hate driving. It’s just too much! First, I gotta plan how to get from point A to point Y; then I have to look out for the knuckleheaded drivers and pedestrians that only focus on their destination and not their safety; when driving from work to home, a drive that should technically be a 20-minute drive, turns to be an hour drive; then I’m wondering, “How much gas did I need to put in my car? Damnit! I missed my way! Now I got worry about filling gas in my car? Oh my gosh! I’m going to be late meeting my client! I don’t want to disappoint them! I gotta be careful, ‘cause I don’t want anything to happen to me. My tires are wearing thin! I don’t have the money right now to pay for all four tires!” Look, I can go on and on, but I just wanted to provide you a tidbit on what goes on in my head as I am driving, especially when it’s for my job.

He understood.  “How long will the accommodation will be?”

“Every school year,” I answered. I wasn’t able to get my formed signed that Friday, because my psychologist wanted to read over the packet. He told me he will sign it and place it in an envelope at the front desk so I could pick it up the next school day. I just picked up the form today. In few days from now, I will be meeting with one of the HRs of my job. I guess we’ll have to see how that goes….