Sinclair: What’s your three word bio?
Lindsay: Mental Illness Advocate
Sinclair: How did you get to where you are now in your work with mental health?
Lindsay: Funny story, I wanted to become a YouTube sensation. I began blogging and creating videos about fashion, makeup and everyday life in 2014. About three months in I realized I didn’t enjoy it. So I brainstormed and thought about my old blog “I’m Depressed Get Over It”from 2011 and made the switch to mental health. I started researching other YouTubers and couldn’t find any people of color discussing their mental illnesses. So I started Transparency Thursday which is a weekly Q&A about my personal experience. The more content I created the more people began to reach out and wanted me to share my story more frequently.
Sinclair: What impact do you hope Consciously Coping has on the lives of others?
Lindsay: I hope Consciously Coping is increasing self awareness, self advocacy and transparency in all aspects of life. We really focus on storytelling for mentally ill peers, but we want non-mentally ill peers to become more involved in our community as well. It’s not just about mentally ill consumers realizing they need help, but the people outside of our community using their privilege to help breakdown systemic barriers that people of color face.
Sinclair: What mental illnesses do you live with?
Lindsay: I have been diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder Type II, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Sinclair: In 2014 you posted a video on your YouTube channel titled “Raising a child when living with a mental illness.” What’s a recent challenge you’ve had with parenting?
Lindsay: I have been without a therapist and medication for four months due a lack of health insurance. So trying to manage my illnesses and balance motherhood has been difficult. I am also extremely hard on myself and I have an image of how I want to rise my child, but it is a struggle without a treatment plan.
Sinclair: What’s a recent win you’ve had with raising your child?
Lindsay: Putting my son in karate has helped us both. I get an hour to myself every Saturday and he gets some time to just be a kid and have fun.
Sinclair: What is something we often get wrong when talking about mental illness?
Lindsay: Often people confuse symptoms and behaviors. For example suicidal ideation/ suicide are symptoms not behaviors, and this lack of understanding deters people from having open conversations.
Sinclair: What’s something you love about being Black?
Lindsay: We are everything! Every single thing about being black is amazing. We are the most imitated people in the entire universe. Everything we touch turns to gold. Then to be blessed and be a black woman, the pure essence of who we are is inspiring. I love being black and everything that comes with it.
Sinclair: How can we bring more Black folks into the conversation around mental illness?
Lindsay: Although stigma is a huge issue in our community, financial hardship and racial bias has an enormous effect on how we seek treatment. Just as large organizations market to predominantly white communities, we have to also market to our communities. By creating resources and offering programs that benefit our specific needs. Offer a solution while transparently sharing stories gives people a realistic view of how to manage their mental health.
Sinclair: Who do you go to when you’re needing support and guidance?
Lindsay: I go to my therapist (when I have one), but now I reach out to a group of friends who are supportive. I don’t speak about my mental health or go to much in details with them. And they are not who I consider my best friends, just people who understand. That is the thing with support it looks different for everyone.
Sinclair: When was the last time you practiced self-care? What did you do?
Lindsay: I give myself time everyday to do something for myself. Managing three illnesses is not something that you can do when you want to. You have to consciously do the work every day. I use my artistry (i.e. painting, drawings, abstract art) and I practice meditation, yoga and divination. It all depends on my mood.
Sinclair: What’s something that’s been bringing you joy lately?
Lindsay: I will be returning to school this fall, which has me pretty excited. I will be studying biology which means I have been studying my butt off. I will be taking another step in increasing mental health education in the black community. In the end I will be a Research Neurobiologist with a concentration in Behavioral Analysis.
Sinclair: What’s something that’s been pissing you off lately?
Lindsay: Overall ignorance around the world. It seems to be multiplying rapidly.
Sinclair: When was a time that self-doubt was at its worst for you while on your career and life journey?
Lindsay: Within the last two years, I doubted my advocacy and how I was helping the community. I was struggling with my disorders and decided I needed a break. I consulted with my therapist at that time and we both felt that I needed to focus on becoming healthy. I missed doing the work, but in hindsight I needed it. I still have my days where I doubt myself, but then I look at how much I have accomplished.
Sinclair: What are your unshakable values and when did you become clear on them?
Lindsay: Open-mindness and loyalty are very important to me. Growing up in the south thinking differently was not something that you did. So I hid myself and what I loved to do, so I could fit in with everyone else. I began to realize that if I wanted to be happy I had to put those values first. I think that is what has helped me become an advocate. I go in every situation remaining honest with each person I meet.
Sinclair: Who are a few amazing people that we should follow and why?
These are a few of my favorite mental health advocates. They all have something different and cater to a broad spectrum of the black experience. TKO Society is an organization that focuses on LGBTQ Community, by offering screenings, health information and a ton of informational resources. Therapy for Black Girls and Therapy for Black Men both offer an online therapist directory that consist of African American professionals. Imade Nibokun is a mental health advocate that shares her story with Major Depression by utilizing social media. She speaks around the world and is currently writing a book.
Sinclair: What is one piece of advice you’d give to someone struggling with self-doubt and feeling like giving up on their dreams?
Lindsay: Celebrate yourself as much as you can, put up reminders of all of the great things you’ve done. Don’t be so hard on yourself. Write it down, write every self doubting thought that you have on paper. Then take a look at it and write what can you do to change the thought or write out facts that contradict the self doubt. Never give up on your dreams. There is no one that can put your vision into fruition but you.
“It’s not just about mentally ill consumers realizing they need help, but the people outside of our community using their privilege to help breakdown systemic barriers that people of color face.” – Lindsay Anderson
Sinclair: Imagine that all your life’s work disappeared and you only had 1 minute to tell the world what you truly believe to be true. What would you say?
Lindsay: Perception is reality, and if you remain transparent you will be perceived in all truth and honesty.
Lindsay Anderson is a Mental Health Advocate from Savannah, Ga. She is the founder and creator of Consciously Coping, an online social media platform that is is invested in educating communities of color on the importance of mental wellness.