Words by Khia Glover
I guess I should start by introducing myself.
My name is Khia Glover. I am a writer and also a therapist who is learning to balance my own mental health struggles while I help children (and their parents at times) manage their own. I have been dealing with depression and anxiety probably for the majority of my life, but didn’t really know what it was when I was younger.
I had my first panic attack my freshman year in college.
I didn’t know what was happening. All I knew was that as I was walking back to my dorm room I couldn’t breathe, I was hyperventilating, and honestly thought I was dying. I have asthma, so not being able to breathe, unfortunately, was nothing new to me but this was a different feeling.
My heart was beating extremely fast and I felt completely out of control. It wasn’t until I remembered one of my friends talking about her panic attacks, that I knew instantly that this is what it was. I have had a few more since them, most of them alone, but I’ve had one friend that has experienced two of them with me so far.
Sometimes, I know what’s upsetting me and making me anxious. Sometimes I don’t. I still don’t know what caused the first one. It took me until recently to get on medication (10 years post the first one).
I’m not sure what took me so long. My worst attacks were during grad school and I knew exactly what caused them…research class! Every time I opened my computer – it was an online course – I had to shut it immediately.
I would get behind and not do well on tests, because it was so hard for me to get through the work without hyperventilating and crying the entire time. Eventually, I had to let my professor what was going on and thankfully she understood. I was able to develop some coping skills and make it through the class and pass – my only C on my transcript.
I believe that even though I have started working in the mental health field, my faith has still caused some conflicting thoughts about my personal battles. I think this is part of what took me so long to get on meds.
The medications so far are helping, they are not magic, but it helps control my mind so that I can actually focus on what I am doing without getting overwhelmed so quickly. My anxiety also causes me to be irritable, and that’s something I didn’t realize for a long time. It was really impacting my jobs.
Anytime a supervisor would talk to me about something or correct me, I’d feel like I was in trouble and needed to defend myself, causing anxiety. Being one of the few black, female employees – and already having a strong personality – I’m sure you can imagine how this caused issues.
And because they didn’t know about my anxiety, and because I don’t always realize my anxiety is rising quickly enough, it made me seem combative when really I was just feeling out of control.
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I think people have this idea of what #depression, #anxiety and other mental health issues look like but you really never know. . . . Just because you see a person smile or laugh doesn’t mean that things are as good as they seem. When people think of depression they think of this solemn, dark, person always wearing black. Sometimes there are those days but not all of the time. Even when things LOOK okay check on your friends.
I believe that even though I have started working in the mental health field, my faith has still caused some conflicting thoughts about my personal battles. I think this is part of what took me so long to get on meds. “Be anxious for nothing…” (Philippians 4:6).
This is the verse always used in the church, not understanding that there’s a little more to it than that. ‘Pray through the depression, pray through your panic attacks.’ If it was that easy, I would be so grateful. Not to say that prayer doesn’t work.
When I was ready to commit suicide prayer was the only thing that worked. I am so glad to have a Pastor that is becoming more open to learning and talking about mental health and acknowledging the issues.
I have had to learn that while Jesus is the ultimate answer, just like with physical health, He has given us resources and assistance that we should use to our advantage.
During my worst days, I honestly tend to stay to myself, but I have a few people that I can just text and say “pray for me” and I know they will without questioning me. I am glad that I have been able to connect with some others on social media who know what it is like, because none of my friends really deal with mental health on the level that I do.
So, while they are super supportive, social media has been a blessing in being able to connect with others that I would have never met otherwise, that can truly empathize and be supportive in a different way.
What I really want the Black community to know is that you don’t HAVE to be strong on your own all the time. We have been trained and conditioned to be independent to a fault. It’s a good thing at times and is definitely our survival mechanism but it’s okay to seek help.
God is not going to strike you down because you went to a therapist, and it does not mean that you don’t put all of your trust in Him. As much as White society has tried to make us think that mental illness is a White thing in using it as an excuse for their behaviors, Black people have them as well.
We don’t have to just keep quiet about “that one uncle” anymore; we can be real about what is going on in our families. It is not a shameful thing. Also, now, there is more of an influx of Black therapists that you may be more comfortable talking with.
You can go to Therapy for Black Girls for a lot of resources and finding melanated magical therapists in your area. It’s okay to get better. No one wants to stay sick and you shouldn’t have to.
I hope that I have been able to help encourage someone with this. If you have any questions or need to talk feel free to contact me.