“When I was a student at Cambridge I remember an anthropology professor holding up a picture of a bone with 28 incisions carved in it. “This is often considered to be man’s first attempt at a calendar” she explained. She paused as we dutifully wrote this down. ‘My question to you is this – what man needs to mark 28 days? I would suggest to you that this is woman’s first attempt at a calendar.’
It was a moment that changed my life. In that second I stopped to question almost everything I had been taught about the past. How often had I overlooked women’s contributions?”
– Sandi Toksvig (via grass-breath) (via rebirthofalibra, learninglog) (via elizabeth-antoinette)
“People talk about how painful contractions are because they’re so strong. But what we want women to know is that the strength of that contraction is the strength of their own bodies. They are as strong as the contraction is. And so they are able to manage it.”
Erin Fullam, midwife (via seebaby)
“Before I am your daughter,
your aunt, niece, or cousin,
I am my own person,
and I will not set fire to myself
to keep you warm.”
– 1/? Things To Remember (via ahyasidi)
I often hear black girls complain that their hair is difficult to control, and it’s precisely because we are not meant to control it.
I have always found that jeans hurt my body with waistlines digging into my stomach as I try to exhale.
T shirts that cut into my arms, bras that dig into my flesh leaving scars that remain today.
We were not the architects of this system, of course these things won’t fit us when they come from people who refuse to acknowledge that we exist. We know this because we see their runways, their print ads, their magazines. We are not wrong.
Beige is not the definition of ‘nude’, my hair does not need to be restrained, it needs to be liberated. My hair isn’t so thick, I didn’t go through puberty too early, my mama is not ‘plus sized’ - these statement all use an invented standard of whiteness and then define me in relation to that standard.
Fuck mainstream. Fuck counter culture and sub culture. We are our own mainstream. We are our own culture.
Fuck standards and constructions of normal. Nothing ever grew by being measured. We grow by being nurtured and affirmed for who we are as we are. Standards are always relative.”
Kim Katrin Crosby
(Pictured: Doing some rainy day in enLIGHTenment, lol..)
On the Inside: Tips for WOC Who Are Considering Therapy.
Mental Health is a taboo subject in black culture, especially for black women. We’re taught to seek out any “help” we need from three sources: our mother, our hair salon and our church. We’re taught to “pray it out” and go on like everything is okay. I am a very spiritual person, and I firmly believe in the power of prayer. But I believe that prayer is a supplement, a crutch to lean on - not a diagnosis, and not a cure.
Our communities’ hesitancy to see a doctor of any kind is rooted in the history of our people getting poked, prodded and sliced open by oppressors and conquerors in the name of ‘science’ and submission. Our distrust and fear of subjugating our bodies, let alone minds, to evaluation by someone we are not close to and who is not a part of our community, is valid and expected. But as black women and people of color, it is so important to practice self-care and seek help when we need it. I know not everyone has the support and resources they need, so I created a quickie guide of questions to ask if you are wanting to seek professional help or need someone to talk to.
- Know when to seek help If you are having any negative feelings/symptoms that disrupt your life, linger or have been coming and going for a lengthy period of time, it may be time to see a professional. Talk to your general doctor first. Sometimes they are able to give you some medicine to help alleviate symptoms while you look for a therapist, can determine if your symptoms are a byproduct of something else (like two drugs interacting) and can usually provide a good recommendation or referral.
- Know what kind of therapy you are looking to try Do your research. Therapy has moved beyond the couch. There are all types of “therapy sessions” you can engage in to help you live life fully and mentally healthy. Keep your values at the core of your search, it will help you find a therapy/therapist that will fit your needs best. Would you like to participate in group therapy or one on one? Would you like your therapy sessions to be faith-centered? Or would you rather try the holistic route without pills instead? These are all things you should think about.
- Know what kind of therapist you are want/need to see. The very shortened version: a psychiatrist’s education is based in the medicinal side of therapy. They are trained to prevent, diagnosis and treat mental illness. A psychologist’s education is based in the counseling side of psychotherapy. They also treat and evaluate but cannot prescribe medicine like psychiatrists can. A counselor, such as a pastor, can help you sort through issues but usually does not hold doctorate levels of training in psychotherapy like a psychologist or psychiatrist does.
- Diversity. In college I started getting anxiety and panic attacks, (which I will blog about next). While I have never gone to therapy for an extended amount of time, by law, I had to see a psychiatrist in order to be prescribed anti-anxiety meds. My therapist was a first generation, mid-thirties, Indian-American woman. I felt comfortable having a WOC as a therapist, but there was one thing she said to me that solidified it for me. As I was telling her about my anxiety, she kept nodding her head and quipped, “Black women and Indian women experience a lot of the same experiences and anxieties being Women of Color.” Obviously, there are some differences, but the fact that she had already connected with me on that level was very comforting to me. She took my gender, my race, my experiences into consideration instead of “erasing” them or pretending like they weren’t significant factors. I only needed to see my therapist once and I quickly weaned myself off of the anti-anxiety meds within 3 weeks in favor of a more holistic treatment, but my experience was a good one. Being comfortable with your therapist will make it easier for you to go back to her and/or be honest with her if you are having adverse reactions to meds or start experiencing other symptoms.Unfortunately, depending on where you live, and on the bigger front that most therapists are white males, it may not always be easy to find a WOC. Your next step is to find a therapist that works in a heavy POC populated place, around lots of different types of people or straight up ask them about their work in diversity.
- Insurance. Make sure your therapist takes your insurance. This seems obvious, but many health plans don’t cover mental health or have certain clauses pertaining to mental healthcare. If you really like the practice or therapist, but your insurance won’t cover it, then at least you will be prepared ahead of time if you need to budget or find someone else.
- What is your specialty in? Research and ask about a therapist’s credentials and background just like you would a regular physician. Most therapists specialize in an area. You’d probably pass up a therapist who specializes in Geriatric depression.
Therapy isn’t just for people going through a hard time, either. It can be a way to release, revive and learn more about yourself, too. I hope these tips help any woman looking into therapy feel more at ease in their search. If you have any more tips, let me know!! Namaste.
Next up: Some helpful natural ways to alleviate feeling down and/or anxious.
Simon Erl - London, UK
Dr. Angelou then recalls a moment when she was 22 years old, walking down the street with her mother, and Vivian said nine words that would change her daughter’s life. “She said, ‘I think you’re the greatest woman I’ve ever met,’” Dr. Angelou remembers. “She said, ‘Mary McLeod Bethune. Eleanor Roosevelt… You’re in that category.’… I thought, ‘Suppose she’s right. Suppose I really am going to be somebody.’”