Before #MentalAwarenessMonth ends, I really wanted to share my experiences with mental health and how protecting my wellness has become a major part of my life. In the past, I was really good at overlooking a lot things I was going through and pretending like I had all my shit together. I didn’t really know how to address my feelings or the anxiety I experienced. I think a lot of it stemmed from wanting to keep up with the strong black girl narrative but fuck that, I realized my strength does not derive through my silence. I’m still learning how to feel without being hard on myself or worry about disappointing others. The truth is, shit gets messy, I get clumsy, I get hurt and I don’t always deal with things rationally. When I’m anxious, I’m impulsive, I panic and sometimes shut down. But I can’t hold myself accountable until I really address those things. I think because of the old tale of women being emotional and dramatic, I’m constantly defensive about how I feel and making sure I keep my emotions tucked in. But I think feelings are necessary and they aren’t meant to be ignored. I admit, I sometimes hate being labelled as emotional but I hate how addressing your emotions is perceived as a negative thing even more. It just doesn’t make sense. There’s this constant conversation online about taking care of yourself and making sure your mental health is taken more seriously but when “being in your feelings” is seen as this weakness, I don’t think the message is getting across correctly. There is nothing wrong with feeling through all the feels. Pin pointing those feelings is actually necessary in order to maintain a positive mental space. Sharing those feelings and then releasing it all is so necessary for clarity and moving forward. It won’t always be crystal clear, life is mad confusing but I found myself in a really low place mentally when I didn’t let those thoughts out. Writing has always been that release for me and I’ve found so much peace through putting things onto paper. However, being able to say things out loud has also been empowering lately. I think owning up to my mess and being able to communicate with people who support and love me has made such a positive impact on my mental wellness. It can be scary to speak and I know what it’s like to fear judgement from others but being able to live in my truth has given me so much power. It feels good to be myself unapologetically and draw that acceptance from within. Feelings suck but they are inevitable. Talk about it. Cry about it. Write about it. Shout about if you have to. What I’ve learned the most is suppressing it, only adds to the stress so making sure I’m not only expressing myself but making space for others to express too is important. To whoever is reading, I hope you can also find the space to finally share, release or open about that thing. Whether on paper or face-to-face, I’m sending you all my love to do it.
Learning How to Fly is a visual and written diary series dedicated to all things women and wellness. Through digital storytelling, Keosha shares her personal life experiences and how she navigates her own world and the people around her through the lens of a Black woman. Learning How to Fly reflects on identity, hardships, emotions, love and the lessons they unfold.