Series I: The Woman, The Bisexual, & The Mental

Wearing a dark-blue and white checked flannel shirt with blue jeans, suede boots and her shoulder-length curly hair bouncing as she sat down for our interview, Joanne’s bubbly attitude is mildly infectious. In a cheerful start to the conversation, she begins by expanding on how her day was, fidgeting and swinging on her chair.

Possibly nervous, or out of habit, Joanne kept her replies quite brief, brushing over some topics. So when I asked what she had been (self-) diagnosed with, I was unsure of how much she would reveal to me.  She began: “depression and a few other things that maybe spun out of depression, so as a result of that self-harm and stuff around that really” was her abrupt reply to my question. I probed further.

“I would say my worst experience with depression was probably February. When I knew I felt ok it was probably mid-September…I felt like it wasn’t as much of a burden waking up every day. I kind of knew that I had enough to approach each day whereas before I didn’t feel that way, or less so perhaps.” Continue reading

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Series I: The Man, The Black, & The Mental

Left, right. Front, side. I look around to make sure the coast is clear. A ritual many young black men are accustomed to. Clear. It’s ok for me to make my way to my destination. Call it paranoia, call it fear, but survival is our number one priority. The dread of being attacked, robbed, or even worse, the panic that your mother will hear about your death from a 10 second clip on the BBC news is not amiss amongst young black men.

Coming from a working-class background where my environment was painted in blood-red somber situations, each day felt like a constant battle for your life. A disproportionate number of young black working-class men have internalised this constant fear. They no longer acknowledge that there is something wrong with instinctively looking over their shoulder at each corner they turn, or averting locking eyes with black boys in an area you are not familiar with.

Briefly touching on the topic in a previous piece, I begin my mental health series looking at the black man. What does it mean to be a black man… More specifically, what does it mean to be a working-class black man growing up in a troubled environment? This is a loaded topic and cannot be covered in a simple blog post. Still, I hope to depict and shed light on some of the causes of poor mental health amongst black men.  Continue reading