Black, Christian and Mentally Ill
By Robyn Carrothers
In case you haven't noticed, I'm African American. My people did not ask to come to this country yet it was built on their blood, sweat, tears and backs. I'm proud of the sacrifices that my ancestors made. Therefore, I stand on their shoulders and strengths.
I'm a Christian. I believe you have to accept Jesus as your personal savior. I attend a good church. The people there are very friendly and giving. They also support you when it's needed. They are also very caring. I've gotten a lot of support and love there.
I'm also mentally ill. Yes, I said it. That's the part that gets to everybody. I have to take three pills a day to remain stable. If I don't, I will be in serious trouble. Not to mention, I've been in the hospital five times because of it.
Okay, you think I'm a hot mess and full of contradictions. I am not supposed to be black, Christian and mentally ill. Black and Christian, yes, mentally ill, no. So there is a taboo with that.
Being black and mentally ill is something that black people shy away from. In the black community, some consider it to be weak or retarded. If the illness pops up, yes, they'll say we're crazy. Sometimes, families will not support you. Whispering and talking about it won't make it go away.
In the Christian faith, it's either you get delivered or you're not trusting God. Yes, I would like to be healed. This is my cross to bear. This is the thorn in my flesh. If God chooses to heal me, then that would be good.
These three qualities together seem like a contradiction. Some people will say there is nothing wrong with you. You just need one good piece (if you get my drift). Others feel, this is something you will grow out of.
I try not to think about what people or my family think. My family had a hard time with it at first. When I got a correct diagnosis, they were relieved. Many people feel that I want attention when I have a mental breakdown.
The point I'm trying to make is that it doesn't matter if you're black or Christian. What matters is how you and the people around you take it. Some can be supportive, others will say, “Go away.” I'm not weak, but I'm going to be okay with the support of my family, church, friends and peers.
So I'll hang in there along with this illness, trusting God and hoping this will encourage someone to hang in there, too.