May is Mental Health Awareness Month, so Happy Mental Health Awareness Month to you!

I intend to explore the impact of race on mental health, both individual and collective, in a few posts this month.  And, of course, how biracial factors into it.  Or, more accurately, how it factors into biracial.  All I know right now is that it does.

May the force be with me.

To kick things off:

Lately I’ve been pondering my dis-ease in the world and have come to think that maybe it’s why (on the whole) i don’t talk to people much.  As little as possible at least.  On a personal level, anyway.  Although I genuinely enjoy people, intend to love them even…but, my default mode is to just smile at them a lot…because eventually someone is probably going to say something that makes me feel invisible with an invalid life experience,  and that throws me right into the center of the dis-ease I walk in this world carrying.  This has led me to experience anxiety and depression.  I have experienced many things in the last 36 years, don’t get me wrong.  Many things in perfect alignment with the love, beauty, and sheer wonder of the Universe.  But if i’m honest, I will acknowledge here that the dis-ease has weighed heavier.  It has been my most constant companion, so constant I was not fully aware of it.  I just thought that was life.  This has affected my relationships, my endeavors, and certainly my happiness.  That’s most likely why I cherish my experiences of joy and freedom so steadfastly that I have a (bad?) habit of clinging to the past (perhaps missing my future.)  Nostalgia and I are super-tight.  I recently bought a latch-hook Smurf wall-hanging at a flea market.  It wasn’t all that cheap.  Totally cute,  but i don’t really want it.  I saw it and for a fleeting moment a spark of pure childhood joy was ignited and i impulsively purchased that thing.  Didn’t even try to bring the price down. (smh)
Clearly I digress…what I was trying to say, I think, is that depression and anxiety have been a part of my biracial experience.  That’s why i speak so fervently about freeing the mind and spirit from the confines of racial identity and racial separation and a whole bunch of other issues we needlessly toil under the illusion of.  I am passionate about this for a few reasons.  The one I’ll give now is: because it has been my “biracial” american experience and i can only be as free from the shackles of it as is the “biracial” american community in which i live.   I don’t mean a literal community of “mixed-race” people*, but the diverse community of this country.  and yes, it extends to the global community as well because basically all i’m talking about is how we’re all the same thing.

please be well

*and on the other hand, that’s exactly what i mean because i believe that we are as a country and a species quite literraly a conglomerate of mixed-race people.  Given that on this other hand we’re still pretending that race has any real relevance.  Biological or otherwise.

mental health month calendar jpg

mental health month wellness calendar

another social taboo

The first taboo being openly discussing biraciality without adhering to the one-drop rule.  Of course I find this blog post to be interesting, or I wouldn’t put it up here.  I appreciate the bit about biracial identity as well as the outline of the overall struggle and the shame that go along with the labels of mental illness in this country.  Especially in the black community.

Coming out of an entirely different closet… the one of mental illness

by Eliza Barnett


Unfortunately as prevalent as mental health disorders are the nation (50+ million diagnosed in the US alone) and world wide, it still tops the ranks as the most difficult to admit.

Higher than revealing to be a victim of domestic abuse, sexual assault, or molestation, harder than confessing a drinking problem or previous bankruptcy; surveys have even shown it to more difficult than admitting ones gender identity or homosexuality. Sufferers face significant social taboos. And it doesn’t affect just one type of person. Mental illness knows nothing of age, race, gender, or economic background.

You don’t have to personally admit it yourself to believe the notion the reality that people are more likely to break off, or not even start, a relationship with someone with mental issues -which I for one find particularly interesting because members of society are more likely to stay with someone with a physical disability. People with mental disorders tend to prefer to hide their illness like major depression and anxiety, because unlike people with physical illnesses, people with mental disorders must also fear being rejected by family & friends, harassed, fired or not hired, or denied child custody—just for starters.

(Please check out this personal blog discussing the Price of being Bipolar in Public)

Last week I had an entire conversation with a friend about them being practically afraid to admit their Christian faith at their workplace because of the negative assumptions his non-same faith based peers might think about his character or behavior.

Once you know someone’s religious preference it changes your whole personality to people who don’t agree with you. Sometimes it’s like every negative image or thought they have about it becomes who I am as a person- even though I haven’t changed. It’s their behavior towards me that has.

I’ve read more than a few articles of a biracial person attempting, or enjoying the ability to pass for one race over another—not because they have a problem with it necessarily themselves, but because other people do.

Sometimes it’s like every negative stereotype or prejudice they have against a race I share membership of encompasses who I am as a person. Granted racism is an ongoing issue for those of one race, but it is just as prevalent towards those of plural heritage.

Sexual orientation discrimination —don’t even get me started.

(great message board discussion here coming coming out as gay with coming out as bipolar)

Mental illness sufferers are also victims of discrimination and the issue continually needs to be recognized.

“I’m Asian, I’m gay, and I have faced discrimination – but not for the reasons most people think; it was actually when I got depression that I faced most discrimination.”

(Quote from an article in the Guardian)

Attempts to end this discrimination are being lead by strong individuals, in the public eye, and by everyday people. Changed perception comes through increased knowledge and visibility.

People need to be taught that mental disorders don’t come from places of personal weakness, and don’t make everyone violent or unpredictable. They need to be made comfortable in seeking help. (Two thirds of sufferers in need of treatment do not seek it. ) Even more importantly open, honest visibility helps others with the illnesses themselves to stand up without shame.

Negative stigma’s of this variety aren’t just external, they’re internal. Who wants to think of themselves as crazy…? When feelings of guilt, shame, or a notion that you’re somehow weakened for needing help are thrown in the mix, it only reinforces the negative feelings.

Isn’t it always the case that telling the ones you love is the hardest thing to do? This isn’t any different. And ignorance towards the idea of mental disorders can to be hard to deal with; some people may not even believe mental illnesses exist. Americans particularly have vast misconception that all mental disorders can be simply be self-corrected with enough work.

Similar to the first step in admitting you have an addiction; your own acceptance is where it all begins. Examine your own feeling first and foremost. You have control over who you tell, so it’s okay to be cautious about it.

“There is no rule for who needs to know about your mental illness diagnosis, but sharing it with someone is a great way to get support.

The silence helps maintain the ignorance about mental illness.”


That being said,

“It doesn’t mean that it is always beneficial to open up indiscriminately about mental health, to your detriment. It would be wonderful if everybody came out.

But it is a very subjective decision and consequences should be considered. Society isn’t at the place of acceptance that it needs to be. Not everyone in the world needs to know if you struggle with diabetes or hypertension or some other illness. The same is true for mental illness. Those with the disorder, are the ones in charge, and should think about what the payoff is to share information about their mental health. For example, if you need to miss work to see a psychiatrist, you might want to tell your employer about what you are going through.”

When someone does react negatively, agree to disagree or try to educate that person. Share educational materials. Share your own experience. And to those on the receiving end of the information, think before you speak.

“Try to react the same way you would if you were told about a physical health problem that you don’t know much about. Avoid trying to be the hero or savior. Being empathic and understanding is one thing, but trying rescue someone is a completely different. You shouldn’t try to fix them. This is something that is way beyond your capacity.”

Treatment and support from others goes a long way; the mental illness journey is a rough one for everyone involved. Help is required, it’s critical down the path of recovery, management of ones condition, and ability to lead constructive and healthy lives. Support can and does come from strangers as well, who share in this unity of diagnosis. As corny as it sounds, sharing is caring.

–Posted By Eliza Barnett