Like others, my mental health has been at an all-time low during 2020. Fortunately, I’ve developed ways to manage my constant stress.
The year 2020 seems like it has been nothing but a let down at every second. There have been nationwide protests against police brutality and racial injustice. Innocent lives have also been taken away through gun violence and COVID-19. With all of this happening, it’s easy to forget about what it’s doing to a person’s mental health. I may not be able to speak for others, but in regards to my health, it hasn’t been the greatest, but I have developed ways to fight it. Allow me to get a little personal with you guys.
The Agonizing Stress of Dealing With Racism in Nearby Neighborhoods
Amid the deaths of George Floyd and countless black Americans in the hands of police, protests around the world have shed light on the ongoing issues that black people continue to face. As someone who is a part of the black community, in this year alone, I have realized how scary it can be living in America. For a short period, there was a point where I didn’t feel safe around my neighborhood.
I live in Chicago, where looting is continuing in different areas. As people loot, it’s understandable that business owners want to protect their businesses. This usually involves standing in front of their stores with bats or even guns to fight off looters of any race. But around other neighborhoods close to my area, there were times where black people, who had nothing to do with looting, would get attacked just for passing through. It was evident that black people were looting in those neighborhoods, but attacking those who had done nothing wrong had become apparent to me that there was a more significant issue here.
It was more than just protecting businesses. Upon watching videos of a few of these attacks against black people, racial slurs were heavily used. Seeing things like this put a huge toll on my mental health, simply because it could’ve been me or one of my family members who could’ve been attacked. But the fact that looting highlighted racism in other neighborhoods near mine was a huge eye-opener.
Deaths and COVID Cases in My Family Poking at My Mental Health
Besides the racism around my neighborhood and the world, COVID-19 has created such a nightmare, not just by affecting our daily living, but by taking away our loved ones. When I initially heard about the virus, I made it my mission to make sure those in my family were being safe. For me, the dangers of this virus have always been serious, but it became personal when it targeted my dad.
Upon hearing the news that my dad had contracted the virus, my mental health turned into tears of sadness to a bit of anger. He is a police officer, so he is an essential worker. Calling my dad every day to make sure he was protecting himself soon became calling him every day to track his symptoms until he finally recovered. Not having all the facts about COVID, I was still nervous even after he said he was “okay.” Once it was confirmed by a doctor that he no longer had the virus, I thought my stress was going to be at ease until more devastating news hit me.
In May, my grandmother passed at the age of 92, from dementia. She was a sweet old lady who loved to dance to all her favorite church music and was always cracking jokes with family members. Though she was sick and it barely showed, it was still shocking to hear of her death.
What hurt even more was hearing about the death of my cousin in the following month. To know that he passed on the same day I just seen him earlier was horrible, because he appeared in a chipper mood when he was alive. His death placed a huge damper on my family because it was not only tragic, it was unexpected as well.
How I Choose to Handle My Mental Health Now
As I’m still waiting on this dreadful year to end, something is telling me that there may be more bad days to come. Because of this, I have decided to implement more time to myself at home to provide peace. Though I have a bit more job responsibilities because of the pandemic, I’m still able to find quiet time for myself so I can breathe and calm my nerves.
Because racial injustice is really important to be, finding time to participate in peaceful protests have now created a huge impact on my mental health by making me feel at ease that I’m doing something important for my people. I’m always able to meet new people who have shared my same experiences involving racism, as well as non-people of color who also want to make a change in what’s happening in the world.
In times like these, when I rather not be alone, I found that I’m able to take charge of my mental health by spending time with loved ones. I would forget loads of stress if my family is around me cracking jokes or talking about complete nonsense. They continue to be there for me, as I do for them to forget about these hardships in life even if it’s just for a second.
Mental health affects everyone differently. Regardless of what you’re going through in life, you must take care of yourself and put your health first. If you or someone else is struggling with mental health, head to halfofus.com for more information. You can also text START to 741-741 or call (800) 273-TALK (8255).