Peace of Mind With Taraji

I interact with a lot of mental health media on a daily basis. If you have curated your social media content to look like mine does now, then you get updated often when something new surfaces in the community. But if you don’t, I am here to share a gem with you today in your path towards healing. Peace of Mind With Taraji on Facebook Watch is as refreshing as it is enlightening. One of my favorite things about the show, is that Taraji is unafraid to be candid and open about a subject as typically hidden as mental health.

When I was diagnosed with PTSD, I had no idea what I was in for. And every day since then, I have been navigating this path of living with the effects of trauma but never giving up on having a healthy mind. The whole mantra of this website is “I can recover, I will recover,” which I can say like a broken record (and will). The thing is though, sometimes you need to see it in motion for yourselves.

Cue Taraji P. Henson’s new show Peace of Mind with Taraji. The show delves deep into often taboo or stigmatized subject matters such as PTSD, suicide, and rape but it does so in a way that is different from other media. Something that I pointed out when I was a guest on The Eric Ibey Podcast is that these conversations don’t have to be all dark and dismal, there can be light moments within a difficult conversation. I believe that Peace of Mind with Taraji captures that necessity for mental health discussions.

I want to tell you what prompted me to write this post right now and why I believe it is so important to do so. A lot of people are struggling mentally at the moment, so I want to caveat what I am about to say with that.

I was on Facebook doing a regular scroll down the timeline when I saw a post from The Source Magazine. It was an article written about Taraji P. Henson. The headline reads, “Taraji P. Henson Reveals She Contemplated Suicide During The Pandemic.” I had seen this news in headlines a few times before since the media has been sharing it almost everywhere, but a comment on this one prompted me to read the article. The comment reads, “I don’t want to hear that shit. She is richer than rich and I’m sure she wasn’t all alone or completely staying in the house.

I would like to address this comment in its entirety. The first message in this comment is that wealthy people do not suffer mentally. The second message is that only those who are “all alone” are given license to suffer mentally. And the third message is that staying in the house at all times is the only circumstance that gives you permission to suffer mentally. The circumstantial nature of this comment is a fallacy. Wealthy people suffer mentally. People who are alone and with company are suffering mentally. And those who are both staying in the house at all times or not have equal permission to suffer mentally.

We are in a pandemic. Times have gotten dark for almost all of us at some point or another during this time period in our history. What is important is that we do not place shame on anyone for any divisive reason we can think of, especially one as lacking in relevancy as socio-economic status.

People from all walks of life can and do deal with mental health conditions on a daily basis. We are all survivors.

After I read the Facebook comment, I went further and read The Source Magazine article about Taraji. After reading that article I took it one step further and finally sat down to watch both episodes of Peace of Mind with Taraji. I knew that I wanted all of the context before deciding to share this post with you. As. I watched the show, and my tears began to flow as I related on so many counts, I also felt relief that there is work being done to destigmatize mental health in an effective way.

This type of work takes a lot of bravery. I would like to thank every single woman on the show for sharing their experiences in order to raise awareness for such silenced topics.

Taraji discuss her thoughts of suicide during the pandemic in the video below.

My recommendation is to watch all 4 videos with comprehension of the heroism it takes to be that open and vulnerable.

In order to heal we must actively do the work and seek out the resources that will help us improve our mental wellness. Well, now you can add a new show to your list.

Tune into Monday’s episode with the iconic Mary J. Blige!

One Decade Later

I’m conscious of dates.

I’m aware of the cyclical nature of time.

I believe in paying homage to important events when their anniversary arrives, not because I want to linger in the past, but as a way to remember who you are.

After what happened a decade ago, I have had to install mechanisms into my life that remind me of just that.

When you engage in any romantic relationship, you take risks. Normally the risk you worry about is getting your heart broken, not your mind.

When Youssef raped me on this day 10 years ago, he broke both.

When you have a broken heart you can feel lost, but when you have a broken mind you definitely are. He didn’t break my heart by being a perfect man and then letting me down. He didn’t break my heart by promising me the world and then not delivering. He didn’t break my mind by telling me I was the one and then choosing someone else. He didn’t break my mind by asking me to be his girl and then hiding me from the world.

He broke me through rape.

Rape is used as a tool in war. The mental health ramifications of being sexually assaulted can manifest themselves in many different ways. Trauma leaves a burden on the survivor to either remain seated by what you have experienced or figure out how to stand up again. It seems like every time I tried to stand back up I was pushed down again, but like Cardi B says, “knock me down 9 times but I get up 10.”

At times the pain and the mountains I was facing felt like I was taking on Mount Everest without a map, proper gear and other key essentials. But I trusted myself to get to the other side. I believed in something bigger than myself, whether you call that energy source God or The Universe, and I had faith in that higher power. I had belief in nature and the good in the yin and yang.

2Pac said, “there’s gonna be some stuff you’re gonna see, that’s gonna make it hard to smile in the future.” Right now is one of those moments I am having trouble smiling in. As George Floyd’s murder has sparked Black Lives Matter protests worldwide, there is an incredible amount of violence seen at the hands of police against peaceful civilians exercising their right to express their frustrations with a system that can only be described as a “failure”. The system has failed me numerous times, but you don’t see me raising my white arm screaming “All Lives Matter” because no one is saying that all lives do not matter by saying “Black Lives Matter.” Just as being an advocate for women’s rights is not saying that men should not have rights too, the Black Lives Matter movement is about advancing the human rights of the Black community, not eradicating the rights of others.

To me it’s simple, you’re either down with human rights or not. So you’re either with Black Lives Matter or you’re not.

As I have reflected on the days leading up to this one, it is impossible not to think about all of the Black women who have been raped. It is impossible not the think of my friends around the globe from all different places who have been raped despite the various differences in our societies. Sexual assault and rape are issues that plague every single sector of society, the consequences of which affect everyone. It is a women’s rights issue that we should all be able to stand up for, not against.

Today I decided to go back to where it happened. I had been wanting to go the Old Port neighbourhood of Montreal for a while now to sit by the St. Lawrence River but hadn’t worked up the nerve to do it. Youssef lived there and that’s where we used to spend time together.

As I sat by the water today, I thought about all of the people that I represent on this issue. I thought about all of the silent voices that cannot speak because they are minors. I thought about all of the silent voices that cannot speak because they do not have the ability right now. And, I thought about all of the victims of rape who do not survive and cannot speak because they are not here to do so.

I came home and then I made this video of my day, edited alongside two of my songs “Loved U By Mistake” and “Tidal Wave.”

When I got home from my day I wrote this:

Truth be told I want to scream

In fact, when I got there

To the place we used to go

That’s how I felt

Like I want to scream so loud the whole port could hear me.

Scream so loud the whale in the St. Lawrence river would create a tidal wave with his fin just to wash away the tears you’d made me cry by the water so many times before.

But this time there were less tears.

This time I reflected on me, not you.

This time I didn’t see you hurting me, but I saw me getting stronger.

This time I didn’t feel your presence lurking.

This time there was a sun shower.

That NEVER happened with you.

This time I had peace.

I NEVER had that with you.

This time I was whole.

I was NEVER whole with you.

I stared at the water,

Mesmerized by the waves

And I didn’t think of you.

I didn’t think of anyone.

I thought of me.

I thought of my strength.

I thought of my courage.

I thought of my survival.

10 years later,

I can return to the place

Where you took a flower’s identity

And you tried to erase.