Lean on me

Last night I suffered another bout of insomnia which is happening more and more often this past year. Truthfully since the birth of the little one three years ago, I can count on one hand the number of nights I slept longer than six hours. Parenthood coupled with getting older seem to be working against me sleeping a full night….

However last night’s bout of insomnia was brought on by a conversation  I had with a dear friend who I was catching up with, part of me hesitates to write this because I’m not trying to put my girl’s business out there but I feel there is a larger piece here that needs to be shared.

My girl and I go back, way back, I’m talking we have known each other since we were like 10, this sista has always been the light and life of the party. When we was young hot things, I was always the wing-man, a role that suits me well in many way. Yet my girl was always on, shit I wanted her energy.

Anyway in the first hour of what was probably a three hour conversation, we were just catching up, doing our thing though I sensed there was something beneath the surface. True enough there was, midway through the conversation she confessed that the reason she had dropped off my radar was because she was going through some shit. Turns out she had been feeling a tad down, which then got us to talking about Black folks and mental health.

My girl’s issues are not the point here but this conversation reminded me that as Black folks, we have a tendency to not address mental health issues to the same extent our white counterparts do and truthfully that shit is killing us. I know because I have been there.

It was about nine years ago that the pressures of life had me on edge, I felt pulled in all directions, my primary care doctor put me on Wellbutrin, it helped but I sensed I need more, so I took the plunge. I went to see a therapist. This was a huge step for me, mind you at the time I was working with the homeless, many who suffered mental health issues, shit I often got them into therapy but at the time I felt shame about needing to see someone myself. In fact when I was in therapy I only told 2 people, the spousal unit and one close friends, I felt shame that I needed to see someone but at the same time, therapy gave me the tools to deal with stress.

However despite the sucess of therapy at that time, the reality is I still grapple with anxiety. I have a phobia, I cannot drive, driving gets me so riled up that while technically I can drive, truth is I avoid it at all costs. I have not driven in a long time, though this year I am actively seeking to work through this phobia because honestly its become problematic. I almost thought about not sharing this tidbit about myself, but I am at the point that rather than make excuses, I feel like I need to come out of the closet about it as I actively work through my anxiety.

That said, I find that in many Black families we all have relatives with issues but rather than call them what they are; which is mental health issues, we dance around the issues which I believe is killing us.

Instead as we stand on the cusp of history being made tomorrow, I think we need to take the time to do some self exploration and work to change ourselves. Are you eating too much? Drinking? Shopping? Maybe you engage in these behaviors because its easier that dealing with yourself….I know when I was young, I went through a year where I engaged in self destructive behaviors but didn’t know why….I know now that I was depressed.

There is no crime or shame in being depressed, in fact rather than hiding it, I feel we need to be open about it, tell someone, don’t be afraid to lean on family and friends. If they are real, they will be there for you. True change starts when we look at ourselves and then work outward.

Something for nothing

It just hit me the other day that I am indeed getting old, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. However I am getting old enough to notice a disturbing trend that’s starting to bug the shit out of me, it seems the younger folks are always wanting something for nothing. Gone are the days of hard work and proving oneself. Look, I know that companies have changed the rules and they no longer reward hard work with things like a lifetime job and a pension.

On the other hand though, I see young folks who think that just because they went to college they should walk into a high paying job despite having minimum experience. Look that piece of paper is valuable and it opens doors but when you are 24-25 and haven’t worked alot, to think you are going to be rewarded with a high salary and perks is just ridiculous.

This week at my gig, I have had to deal with a young lady who I think is trying but uses life circumstances as a way to excuse mediocrity…problem is I am not the one. See, I have been working since I was 14, got my first job by lying about my age, I was tired of being broke and a job was the only way to correct that problem.

Looking back even when I was a young single Mama after my first marriage crashed and burned, I worked, folks tried to suggest collecting welfare but back 16 years ago, the state of Illinois was only offering something like $270 a month, shit rent was more than that. There was a point when my son was little when I couldn’t find one decent job, so I had two, I did what I had to do to put the bread on the table.

No, I am not saying this to pat myself on the back, shit those were hard times indeed for us but I believed and saw in action that it seemed the universe rewarded those who worked hard. Even in the bible in the book of James, it says faith without works is dead, you can pray for change and having your needs/wants met, but what are you doing about it? For many folks, the answer is either nothing or not enough.

Yet I cannot help but think the growing laziness factor with young folks is helped along by the media, on the occasions I do watch tv it seems everyone wants riches and fame yet no one wants to work hard for it. Kids instead of hitting the books, want to come on tv shows and embarrass themselves for the one minute shot at fame, shoot, we only have to look at American Idol. Those audition shows are brutal, the few times I have seen them, its plenty of no talent having fools making asses of themselves. I shake my head and wonder…where is your Mama, friends? Someone to tell you sorry but you need a realistic plan not to make as ass of yourself for the world to review on a endless loop on You Tube.

No to truly accomplish something solid and lasting it takes hard work, when I first started in the non-profit sector many years ago, I had no degree and little experience in the field. However there was an agency that I really wanted to work at, the first job they offered me was the lowest position there and barely paid more than minimum wage. I took it and worked my ass off and in less than a year of working overnight shifts and doing everything that was asked of me, I was promoted to the lowest professional class position they offer me since I did not have a degree. The thing is had I come in with a shitty attitude, I may have ended up out the door and whereas that job opened doors for me, if my attitude had been wrong the doors just as easily could have been shut.

The thing is as the ole folks used to say easy come, easy go….you can get riches, fame or whatever quickly but many times when it comes without sacrifice, it goes just as easily as it comes. Look at folks who were driving SUV’s, living in fancy McMansions, many of them now are scrambling to survive. It used to be folks understood your first house wasn’t going to fill all your dreams, it was a starting point but now folks want their first house to be perfect, sorry kids it doesn’t work like that.

Well have a good weekend, its storming up here in Maine, so I am chilling this weekend in the house.

Gone Fishing

That’s what the sign says on the Oak Hill General Store in Standish Maine, after it became national news that the owner of this fine establishment was found to be hosting a betting pool on when President Elect Barack Obama would be assassinated.

However as a Black chick in Maine while I am disturbed as hell that this incident even happened, I am happy that Mainers are coming together to say we don’t play this shit in our state. The local government is meeting today in Standish to address this issue, by the way Standish went for Obama in the elections and the local media is reporting that the actual owner of the property that houses this lil store is a known Obama supporter.

The local papers and discussion boards around here are abuzz with folks saying we don’t appreciate this shit, seems even folks who didn’t support Obama feel this was a bonehead move. Maine is a funny little place, its a live and let live place.

I have been here almost 7 years and in that time, I have traveled to many parts of the state and overall I have always been met with a warm or at least decent reception. Even up north where seeing a speck of color doesn’t happen too much. Once I was in a town of about five thousand not far from the Canadian border and stumbled across a snack place that had a lot of bikers there, had I not been hungry, I would not have left the car for anything. However there weren’t too many eating options, so a sista had to get out of the car. I stood in line scared as hell thinking my Black ass was toast, instead I ended up talking with a few bikers and they were decent folks. By the time I got my food, I felt considerably more comfortable. That’s the type of place Maine is, folks might look at you but for the most part they look at anyone who is from away, that’s just a Maine thing.

So rest assured that while more old time racists will be coming out the closet, at least here in Maine, folks will do their part to keep these bastards hidden away like the crazy uncle you only invite over for Christmas because he is too crazy to see any other time of year.

Stay tuned for tomorrow where I will wax poetically about what happens when a sista leaves this state and journeys back home to the Chi-town.