If you haven’t noticed, I’m Black…and Black people still tend to deal with the stigma of mental health within its community.

Now this isn’t a blog of statistics. They’re helpful, sure, but pretty boring. Just know Black folks seeing therapists today is most likely at a pretty low number. You can factor in all kinds of cultural, societal, and socio-economic influences into the long list of whys but I decided to go ahead and step outside the box. I’ve happily been in therapy for about a month now and I will probably continue for the rest of my life.

I actually told my mom I saw a therapist after the first session. It was pretty funny. Let’s just say, there was a long “oooooookkkkkkk,” followed by an awkward pause and a buttload of questions. My dad, a jokester, had a slew of pretty hilarious zingers. I’ll spare you so you don’t think he’s a terrible person, but we had a good chat about it. Overall, they were both supportive of my reasons for going and wished me the best in the answers I was searching for.

I can’t tell you why I opted to see a therapist at this point in my life. I feel like things are going a lot smoother than they were about two Summers ago. It was pretty crazy, to say the least. My sister had to look for me and she (along with my best friend) actually staged a full fledged intervention when I came back into the world. Even before that big meltdown, I probably should have seen a therapist but I was too lazy to search for someone I felt I could trust with my heart and not to mention, a little intimidated. Here’s a secret, I’m a big ol’ emotional, scaredy cat. So I privately sulked. There were also a lot of tears, prayers, songs I wrote, and long conversations with my friends. Note: I do not recommend my poorly thought out methods for anyone else but if you were wondering, that’s what held me over.

I remember at some point (before my Summer trip to crazy town), my youngest brother recommended I speak with someone, just because. He actually told our whole family we needed therapy but you know, younger brothers…we just pat them on the head and tell them to bring us back chips or something. So imagine my shock when we had a serious conversation about mental health. It was such mature advice from a kid. Then when I started attending St. John’s, they talked about seeing therapists frequently during service and were advocates for mental health care. I know it might sound silly, but hearing church people be vulnerable about mental health made me feel so much more comfortable. Then the icing on cake, I found out the super successful and amazing women I started to surround myself with absolutely took their places on a therapist’s comfy couch to talk about life and to sort out whatever qualms they had.

I was surrounded. I was seeing couches in my dreams. Ok, I wasn’t but you get the gist…It came from my family, friends and spiritual family. So this year, a friend of mine told me how amazing her experience was and I caved. I set up the appointment and decided to try something new. I knew I was open to help around my career path and intimate relationships I held with people near to my heart. I wanted understanding and a non-biased perspective on what it is that I might be doing to block success in different areas of my life. It was time.

So here I am, years after some of the hardest times of my life, excited to talk to a hoity-toity personality expert about whatever she wants. What?! Who, me? Yep…I’ve been spilling all the beans. She’s amazing and it has been the best decision I could have made for my life.

I was definitely awkward the first trip in. I gave her a history on my family, friends, and a little on my love life. She was easy to talk to and funny enough from a neighborhood close to where I grew up. I felt like she got me. The next few visits, she circled back to some things I brought up and that’s where the fun started. She began to challenge me and in some ways validated things I’ve secretly held deep within my core. She’s been walking me through the timeline of my life to help me understand why I’ve built walls around myself, why I back away from success when I’m less than an inch away, and how being bullied as a child gave me social anxieties I never knew I had.

I know you might be wondering why I’m sharing, but I think it’s important to make sure we are healthy in all aspects of life. I do not look like the things that I’ve been through. I’m grateful for it but I’m ready to shed that old skin and to skyrocket to the next level of my greatness. And I want you to feel empowered to break out of your old, self-harming habits to become the best version of yourself too.

We all deserve joy, balance, and love…Let’s get it. <3