* Written by Ashleigh Owens for YettiSays Self-Love Month | “For Black Girls” post series
I want you to know that mental illness doesn’t discriminate. This isn’t something exclusive to those who don’t look like us.
I want you to know that you don’t have to show up as the “strong black woman” all the time — actually, you’re never obligated to do so.
I also want you to know that you are not alone. I see you. I am you.
I know your days are dark and your nights, long. They consist of unsuccessfully trying to turn off your brain while it convinces you to believe all of your irrational thoughts.
I know the periods of loneliness and paranoia that creep up unexpectedly. Suddenly you feel that it is impossible for anyone to like or love you, and everyone who claims they do is surely pretending. You feel they’ll be better off without you and won’t notice your absence.
Some days you look in the mirror and see a face you no longer recognize staring back at you. Your eyes, they obviously belong to someone else. Your nose is suddenly misaligned. Your high cheekbones are slightly sunken. Your lips are no longer full. And suddenly your melanated glow has faded to a pale hue.
Guilt. Shame. Exhaustion. Fear. Confusion. Defeat. Hopelessness.
These are all emotions that regularly plague your mind. The highs are impeccable but sometimes dangerous, and the lows are life-shattering. You feel crazy like you’re losing your mind. Some days there seems to be no fight left in you to try to cling to reality. It feels like life would just be easier if you let go. But you continue to fight for your sanity. In all this, you find a way to make it through to the next day.
You’re not broken, nor crazy. You’re not unworthy or unloveable. It is okay to call your illness by its name and acknowledge your thoughts, feelings, and experiences. They are a part of you, but they do not define you.
If nobody has told you so, I’m proud of you. I see you. And I am you.