For decades, Women of Color have been addressed as “Queens” to signify honor and esteem. Despite its empowering impact, the word “Queen” comes with much weight. I created this blog for Women of Color who bear the weight of their crowns. This blog is dedicated to the women who have embodied and embraced the “Queen” persona, thus, developing the “strong black woman syndrome.” In today’s society, we as Women of Color, have an expectation to live up to our “Queen” identities. This identity, although characterized by strength, perseverance, and resilience, sometimes fails to acknowledge the internal challenges that we as Women of Color face as we strive to uphold the qualifications of this identity.
Being raised in an African household, at least mine, crying, even as a female, was a sign of weakness. This doesn’t necessarily have to mean you’re literally crying, tears coming down and all. “Crying”, even figuratively, can mean emotionally vomiting! But sometimes, we need those moments and we need people around us to help clean up what we spewed out, as nasty and disgusting as it may appear. “Vomit” shows all the things that our stomachs had a hard time processing. In comparison, emotional vomit is often the things we struggle to process in our hearts and minds. I sometimes wonder if I chose the career field I did because helping others work through their emotions, in a sense, has helped me worked through my own suppressed emotions. I have learned through the years that: It’s OK to cry. It’s OK to say “NO,” It’s OK to be sick and tired of being sick and tired.
In 2016, the Center for Disease Control reported that Non-Hispanic Black women, ages 18 and up, reported higher rates of “feelings of sadness, hopelessness, worthlessness, or that everything is an effort all of the time,” than their counterparts (Non Hispanic White Women.) Even with higher reported rates of distressing symptoms, women of color seek less mental health services than their counterparts, hence the “strong black women syndrome.” We may experience or report suffering to greater extents, however, we as Women of Color seek help less.
Tending to your mental health is not only about seeking professional mental health services. There are steps that you can take at home such as setting boundaries and limiting things and people who may negatively affect our well being, engaging in self-care activities, open up and sharing with people that you trust when you are feeling depressed, or even listening to your body when its trying to tell you that something is out of whack.
Depression gets up in the morning, takes care of her children, partner, and herself with a smile on her face. Anxiety has beat and baked her face to the “gawds.” Mental illness posts a “fire” picture of herself on vacation that gains hundreds of “likes” on her social media platform. Depression is the “life of the party.” Bipolar is the “strong friend.” You see ladies, the women around us, no matter how they appear, may be suffering from mental illness in whatever form. Protect your mental health like you password protect your phone. Please know that you do not have to impose the same expectations on yourself that society imposes on you.