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Commentary: I'm Not Your Superwoman

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Black people expect to be in pain every day, so for us, a good day is heaven. But the truth is: everybody on the planet is walking around with unresolved wounds and scars. We're all challenged on some level. Do you think you know a person who doesn't have a problem? Think again! More people than ever are under a tremendous amount of stress; not just those who have been trapped in economically depressed/poor areas. Still, the problems are worse in poor communities -- that's why there is a critical need for more mental health awareness, better education and job opportunities. If you're really trying to identify depression in Black women, one of the first things to look for is a woman who is working very hard and seems disconnected from her own needs. She may be busy around the clock, constantly on the go, unable to relax, and often not getting her sleep so she can handle household, child care and job tasks. Not taking the time to tend to herself makes her more vulnerable to depression. Or her busyness may be a way to keep her mind off the feelings of sadness that have already arisen. We might often think/say our lives are "fine," but when we have the courage and the good sense to talk to a therapist and start to dig, unresolved trauma is often underneath, though we react to it by trying to be perfect; looking perfect, having a perfect education, a perfect house... and we're dying inside. Being Black and being women make us more vulnerable to all negative aspects of our society; poverty, poor health, single parenting, HIV, and homelessness -- which make us even more vulnerable to things like abuse, workplace harassment, incarceration and drugs. Did you know that according to the Bureau of Justice statistics, for every 100,000 Black women, in the country, there are 359 in prison? That means we are four-and-a-half times more likely than white women to wind up behind bars. We are generally more victimized, and victimized more often than men, so there's a greater likelihood that we'll be victims in general. We're especially more likely to be victims of domestic abuse and sexual abuse, and to be targeted as easy marks for crime. The healing starts with us; sharing our stories with each other and giving ourselves the care we need. There is no such thing a "Superwoman" -- trust me, it's a myth. We must put the oxygen mask over our own mouths first. If you see someone -- someone in pain -- say something. Terrie M. Williams is the author of "Black Pain: It Just Looks Like We're Not Hurting," and Co-Founder of The Stay Strong Foundation.
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