By Kelvin Easiley, Jr
July is National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month. This is the time when a laser focus is trained on the various complexities people of color encounter while facing mental health stigma and a shoddy healthcare system.The same healthcare system many people of color approach with grave skepticism.
There are many people who suffer from depression, anxiety, or both but are high-functioning individuals. These folks get dressed, go to work, attend social gatherings and have mental health concerns that are untreated, undiagnosed, and unaddressed. In some cases the pressure of keeping up a veneer of wellness eventually drives these high-functioning people to seek care.Others fall into a cycle of being asymptomatic, which means that an individual is “presenting no symptoms of disease” (depending on the absence of triggers and stressors), to experiencing a deluge of symptoms that run the gamut of mental health disorders.
I turn thirty-four in a few days. I am excited about it.
I realized this morning how hard I fight for my fucking life. I am a Black man with schizoaffective disorder. Nine years have passed since my twenty-fifth birthday and I’m still alive. I don’t take this lightly, because growing up, it was common knowledge that many young Black men did not make it to their twenty-fifth birthday.
I woke this morning unable to get out of bed. Thus, I couldn’t make it to work on time, again. I had to alert my supervisor to my belated arrival. It wasn’t the usual, “not feeling like going to work today, so I’m staying in bed”, it was “my medication has me so drowsy, that the six hours of sleep I got last night hasn’t sufficed to have had the half life of the side effects wear off.” kind of staying in bed.