Moving to the States jarred with everything I had expected.
And no, I wasn't kidnapped or coerced. I was of "sound mind", said my goodbyes and packed my own bags.
I had known it was coming for almost a decade (depending on the circumstances & country, the migration process can take a long time). Still, my first 3 months were spent in between extreme mood swings and crying jags. I didn't want to leave the house and there were times when I would go from being unable to sleep for 72 hours to sleeping for hours.
Even my body rebelled.
3-day period went on for a period of 3 months. I lost over 15 pounds and my appetite. I had no idea what to do with myself. If I have to describe how I felt in those moments, I would say it started out as a slow burn and ended in a rage.
I was so mad at myself. Here I was, in a space that could offer so much. A situation/place many would kill for, even risk dying for....
Life isn't cut and dry.
We should never be made to feel ashamed of needing help. Am I wrong in saying that many of us come from spaces that have shame and toxic-comparison down to a science.
Nope, scratch that. It's a weapon of mass destruction at this point because if people need help, can access avenues to get help, can afford it (hello!) but won't, aren't they in danger? For how long can we ignore the increasing numbers of suicides in the Immigrant community?
What about the rising rates in the Motherland?
Remember when folks used to call Suicide & Suicide ideation "a white thing" or "a thing rich folks do because they don't know real problems?" Well, mental health is as real as it gets and it requires REAL ATTENTION.
It's time to start paying attention to the Mental Health stigma in our community and the role we may be playing in propagating it.
*Disclaimer - I'm not a doctor or a mental health expert. I'm someone who started a platform to help Immigrants esp. of African Ancestry feel seen, valued & supported as they settle & become invaluable wherever they reside.
National Alliance on Mental Illness offers local programs and internet resources that help reduce stigma by educating people who have mental illness, their families and the general public.
How did you feel about this post? Did it strike a chord? If you or someone you know is interested in sharing practical steps on the issue of Mental Health Awareness (as it relates to this post) send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
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