Depression is… #poetry #poem

Silky Poetic Lotion


Some days depression is the rain

that patters on my bedroom window.

It keeps tapping and tapping

to remind me of its presence.

Some days depression is nightfall

with its lack of light and heavy eyelids.

It urges me to sip a drink

to forget it ever existed.

Some days depression is a ponytail

and pajamas and slippers.

It isn’t wanting to start a new day

when yesterday isn’t over yet.

Depression is laziness and sleep.

It is frustration and anger.

It is the tears in my eyes

that i don’t let fall.

At the mere scent of its presence,

i take the antidote

tiny and round

and hope this time

it works.



1:53 PM

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On the Last Days of May, Let’s Address Our Desperate Need to Tackle #MentalHealth in Our Communities

If you have been reading my posts lately (especially on Tuesdays), you may  know of my online and offline crusade to raise our culture’s consciousness about the prevalent role of Mental Health Awareness in our communities locally, nationally, and internationally, With the latest developments from the Santa Barbara massacre at the hands of Elliot Barber, the Sandy Hook killings, and the countless number of untold stories in our neighborhoods, there has been too many unnecessary deaths to ignore anymore.

We can no longer assume that mental health is not a factor in any of these news stories – it has a profound effect on the murder suspect and unfortunately, the victims. But the solution to this epidemic is much more complicated than simply medicating the patient.  Don’t get me wrong, stabilizing destructive thoughts and intentions in a person who suffers from mental illness through medication is very important. However, that is NOT the ONLY answer to this problem.  That’s the cheap, Cliff Notes-version response to a very complicated issue in our society.

In my opinion, the first thing that will help us all tackle this issue is removing the cultural stigma that mental illness has had in our neighborhoods, family and social circles, and cities around the world. That can only happen if we all are EDUCATED in what mental illness REALLY is. Calling someone “crazy” is just as insulting as any racial/sexist /ageist slur can be because it generalizes an entire group of people. Are all African-Americans “lazy”? Are all immigrants “thieves”?  Are all women “bitches”? Are all young people “entitled”? I doubt that considerably.

HEADER-mental-health-blogging_800X500pxNAMI Mental Health

Mental illness has a varied spectrum, covering multiple conditions and symptoms. There’s depression, postpartum depression, seasonal depression, bipolar disorder, bipolar II, bipolar depression, schizophrenia, multiple personality disorder and so many more. Each condition has its own set of symptoms. For instance, depression equates to extreme bouts of sadness, fatigue, and varying levels of suicidal thoughts. Bipolar disorder is a mood disorder characterized by high energy “manic” episodes with hypersensitivity and anger and low energy symptoms similar to depression.  A person who suffers from schizophrenia has varied intensity of voices/hallucinations telling him/her to do things that are not constructive. There are organizations like NAMI and Mental Health America out there who have the latest research, diagnosis checklists, support groups and more. We just need to WANT to find this information.

Once you know what each condition looks like by being more informed, you can be the empathetic advocate for that person to get the help he/she needs. And it’s more than just taking a pill; it’s involving therapy, support groups as well as a proper dosage of medication to lessen the condition’s symptoms. You can be the loving friend/family member/girlfriend/boyfriend/wife/husband who can remove the social insecurity from that sufferer by just listening. Are you REALLY listening to your child/friend/spouse? How do you know?

The reason why sufferers lie about the severity of their illness is because they fear being labeled as “crazy” and becoming a social outcast within their families and communities. Who wants to be labeled a freak of Nature, “that weird kid,” at ANY age, much less in your formative years of development in childhood, adolescence or young adulthood?! I believe that 22-year-old University of California student Elliot Barber faced that same fear. I am not condoning his course of action but I do know that there were warning signs that were either ignored or overlooked by his parents, mental health professionals and the police department.

So I ask, “how are we as individuals embracing our neighbors and family who just happen to suffer from a mental illness?”  The answer will predict the future of our disenfranchised people in our culture and ultimately, our own future as the human race.




DON LEMON: How Much Can A Loved One Do To Save A Family Member?

Black America Web

By his own account, which police are calling a manifesto, 22-year-old Elliot Rodger had been planning his murder suicide attack for at least five years, since he was 17 years old.

His parents say from childhood he suffered from mild autism and was socially awkward.

They knew he was dealing with depression.

His postings on his social media pages reflected it.

But they never expected anything like the horror that played out late Friday night when Rodger went on a killing rampage in Isla Vista, California.

Seven people including Rodger would end up dead, 14 others would be injured.

Some were stabbed, some were shot and some were hit by Rodger’s car.

Rodger’s family tried to help.

They even consulted with someone from a mental health agency.

Someone from the mental health agency requested police check on the young man’s welfare.

So just last month after that consultation and after…

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Memorial Day Reflections || The Ancient Greeks Helping Vets with PTSD


Ajax Defending Greek Ships Against Trojans

The Greeks didn’t call it PTSD. But they understood that war brought trauma (from the Greek word meaning “wound”), which left some warriors with a “thousand-yard stare,” a phrase used by Sophocles, long after they returned home. Advocates and the military itself have found that ancient myths and stories like “Ajax” can help veterans and active-duty soldiers cope with the overwhelming psychological stress that the country’s longest war has put on its relatively small volunteer force.

The VA estimates that about 1,000 veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars are diagnosed each week with PTSD, and another 800 with depression. Many more of the 2.5 million men and women who have been deployed in the war thus far likely suffer from these psychological conditions but remain undiagnosed, a burden that will persist far beyond the planned troop drawdown from Afghanistan at the end of this year.

Not having a baby-sitter…

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Battered Girlfriend Continues To Avoid Police Over Miami Cop’s Death

This case has so many layers to it that I don’t think the mainstream media (and local radio personalities) is really addressing. After talking to a colleague who is a mother of a cop, we both discussed how domestic violence and mental illness may be factors in the suicide and injuries. Why aren’t we talking about that during MENTAL HEALTH MONTH?!?


#TolerantTuesday – #WomenMentalHealthWeek with Ntozake Shange’s “For Colored Girls”

So I’m starting a new segment this month called #TolerantTuesday to address May being Mental Health Month. It’s a delicate dance of being an advocate without sounding too preachy and I have thought a great deal about how I could deliver my awareness message.

As a news blogger, I’m usually re-posting timely news in the various realms of intelligent consumption at a moment’s notice – current events, politics, local/state/national government, cultural issues, education, “water cooler” topics, etc. But I’m also mindful for the KIND of information I want to put out there because it reflects the kind of writer, editor, feminist and ultimately, educator I am. I take that responsibility very seriously because I’m representing the best of American culture not just for my “country people” but internationally, with readers coming from Europe, Middle East, Australia, countries in Africa and more. Thank you, by the way, for your continued readership! XO

So yesterday, I was bombarded (I’m sure you were too) with the leaked elevator video of Solange Knowles allegedly attacking her brother-in-law Shawn “Jay Z” Carter as her sister, Beyoncé, appears to do nothing during the argument while in elevator. I am intentionally NOT posting the video for a reason.

I was a little horrified by the video, to be honest. There was a lot of rage in that attack. As the week goes on, I’m sure there will be many journalists studying the players’ social media accounts, painstakingly piecing together the timeline and tweets/status updates that may offer some explanation for the behavior. The only “positive” piece of the incident was that Jay Z never retaliated. It was the bodyguard who pulled her back. That takes some serious restraint as a man.

Unfortunately, as the day went on, my horror expanded with my firsthand viewing of the bevy of tasteless and disgusting memes created on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr and Instagram that parodied/ridiculed/made light of the incident. I also REFUSE to post any of them here to give those users any added notoriety.

So instead of joining the Peanut Gallery, I looked at the incident in an alternative perspective – a mental health counselor and holistic life coach a-la Iyanla Vanzant.


Now again, I am not a licensed counselor or life coach but I do have a heightened awareness and empathy that comes from my own experiences.

We as women can harbor a lot of bitterness of past hurts and disappointments. They hide behind our fake smiles, flawless makeup, expensive hairstyles and “I’m fine” responses. I know that because that’s what I have done. What’s worse is that the hurt manifests itself in places we aren’t even aware of only to explode into wrath. I know that because it happened to me.

Oprah's MasterClass

I didn’t hurt anyone or myself but I remember feeling such a wave of anger, frustration, pain, sadness that it couldn’t go anywhere but out of me in rage. I was angry that I couldn’t be understood by family. I was frustrated that I couldn’t effectively articulate the root of the hurt initially. I hurt because I reflected on my past toxic relationships and hated how I allowed myself to shrink inside my ex’s expectations for me. I was sad because I feared that no man would ever love me the way I desperately wanted to be loved.

Love In The City on OWN

So last night, I watched Tyler Perry’s film, For Colored Girls (2010) just to get some perspective about my own feelings and provide some insight into how to process the news I was reporting.


for colored girlsNtozake-Shange-1977-antozake with janet

Ntozake Shange, the original playwright of the Broadway show For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf, sprinkled such lush and lyrical monologues that made the women’s narratives come to life in front of your eyes. Even if you’re not a poetry fan, the honest and vivid storytelling cannot be ignored or denied. I heard my story in the “Abortion Cycle #1” and in countless others. I heard my college roommate’s story in “Latent Rapists”.

As the credits rolled, I realized how much of pain we carry around with us that no one ever knows. No one KNOWS to ask about the painful experience of your life. We just endure, push forward, get a career, get married, have kids, buy a house, save for those kids’ college and retirement. But what if we could tap into the hurt in a sisterhood circle, not to belabor the issues but to heal ourselves from them?

OWN Network is a cable TV channel that is trying to do that, if we REALLY try to let it. What shows could help us ALL (women AND men) heal from our hurts?

Am I Crazy? Or Is He? – How Addiction Warps Us

May is Mental Health Awareness Month and it’s important to debunk the limited misconceptions people have about people living/managing mental illness.

A Walk on the Wild Side

Silver-Linings-Playbook-Image-03 From the film “Silver Lining Playbook” about mental illness

He was already high when I picked him up from the bus station to bring him home.

I’d hoped after a month in jail he’d be clean and sober and ready to make a fresh start on the road to recovery. That’s why we were letting him stay with us. He had nowhere else to go, and we wanted him to be safe until we could get him into rehab.

But it was already too late for safe, for clean, for a fresh start.

I could have refused to bring him home, of course. I could have left him at the bus stop. But I didn’t. I had my suspicions, but I wasn’t absolutely certain he was high.

I was sure a couple of days later though when, after I refused to give him a ride into town, he disappeared in…

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