I don’t talk about it much.
I don’t talk about it at all, actually.
But some days, I can look in the mirror and see the faceless burdens of silence, denial, and uncertainty. Sometimes I too can feel the looming shadows of my mind encompassing me, briefly leaving me in a dark place, like my father did and his father did before him. Determined to lean on my own mental strength, and not fall victim to the traps of bipolar disorder, addiction, or depression.
Everyday, I got it, I tell myself.
Why are we (men, especially black men), entrenched in a world of extreme hyper-masculinity in relation to our own mental health’s? It’s as if we must achieve these high standards of masculinity in order to protect our identity and eliminate any feelings of powerlessness. While most people may project an image of hyper-masculinity as a physical trait of violence, sexual prowess, and feelings of invincibility, the hyper masculine male conveys attitudes of total self control and emotional hardiness/detachment.
As a black man, I feel as if my identity, in addition to my own personal trauma’s, is a reflection of the abusive and oppressive ways of our society, which doesn’t allow for the show of any emotional or mental weakness, or compensate for the basic emotional needs of any human.
Personally, I have experienced a lifetime’s worth of emotionally traumatic events, that I have swept under the rug, because they are things that are too hard to confront and deal with. I feel as if my counter move is avoidance and my shield is denial, but eventually I know it will catch up to me. Avoidance is my almost automatic response to anything that bothers me.
I believe that the hyper masculinity instilled in us, forces us to conform to denial against things that we feel powerless against, problems we often regard as childlike without speaking on them, such as our mental health.
I know I’m not alone in these conspicuous feelings of longing to understand, through my own independence. Of being able to fight every battle on my own. I know this will silently speak to someone, who like myself won’t admit to any faults of their own mind.
I don’t believe that I am experiencing or on the verge of any bouts of depression or bipolarity, but we all have our cloudy days, this is just the only time I’ve ever decided to talked about mine.
Having personally witnessed the derailment of someone’s mental health and the effects it has had on their life, I hope that this creates a conversation with somebody who needs it much more than I do.
By Keith Haynie, Editor in Chief