"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness..." Sound familiar? Its inarguably the most popular line from the United States Declaration of Independence of July 4, 1776. 246 years later and 1 out of every 5 people are struggling with their mental health, racial tension still confounds us, and the omicron variant has mutated at least 5 times. Jesus says, the golden rule is to treat others how you want to be treated (Matthew 7:12). If you want to be happy, make people happy. The pressing question then becomes, how can I make others happy if I am not happy? Carrying around the temperament of "the angry black woman," does as much for my mental health as hearing the insults of the people who stereotype me. But when does 2 cups of coffee before 2pm stop being the reason for my smile? ... If you can't answer that, don't worry, my mental health counselor couldn't either because the reality is the decision to pursue happiness starts with me.
The World Health Organization (2019) reports empirical evidence that demonstrates that racism is a source of traumatic stress for racial and ethnic minorities, particularly African Americans. It can result in exposure to racial trauma the psychological, physical, emotional discomfort and pain that result from experiences with racism may spark anxiety, fear, humiliation and may disrupt a positive sense of self (Landor, 2019). As much as no one cares, my skin is dark and I am utterly traumatized. Walking around America post the murder of George Floyd in 2020 feels like being a target, and my health is the subject under attack. Even worse? ... Grappling with the reality that regardless of what situations come to destroy your life, we are responsible for restoring our human condition. While no one cares about the science behind "the angry black woman; I've decided. I have decided that no matter what I look like, I am going to pursue happiness. I have decided to expect life from my life, and that in order to experience it's fullness I must change the way I treat, and allow others to treat my mental health.
Our mental health describes the psychological relationships between how we think, feel, and act. The internet says the best treatments for mental health are psychotherapy and medication. While I can't challenge the efficacy of that information, I can tell you that if physical health defines the condition of the body, then health is truly for the body and the body is for health. What does that mean? The body does not require anything but itself to be healthy. The body can heal itself. Dr. Lundquist explains the process of the body healing itself: "cells can heal themselves when they become unhealthy and replicate to replace destroyed or damaged cells." A healthy body can fight infection and heal wounds. He details that the body inhibited from performing it's natural functions is one that lacks sleep, doesn't consume healthy foods, and is deprived of physical exercise (Lundquist, 2019). Mental health is treated with wellness. Daily objectives to pursue positive behaviors and routines that lead to improved life outcomes.
So what would tempt a healthy person to sleep less, eat worse, and stop working out? Stress, anxiety, and lack of discipline. Operationally defined as doing what you don't want to do. I thought I had discipline when I woke up every day at 5:30 am, read my bible, and made a cup of coffee, but my unwanted behaviors started to show when I challenged myself to trade that cup of coffee for a spoonful of sea moss. Suddenly, I started hitting the snooze button every morning and ruminating for hours instead. No matter what I want to do, the temptation to order wings, work until midnight, and skip the gym the next morning always creep up on me. In fact, what I've just described is the perfect recipe for a bad temperament and a triggered mindset that can't find happy. Like a fad diet I'm done looking for people's acceptance to fulfill me. I don't want the Bonnie and Clyde love story unless it involves long romantic walks to the health food store. My focus is on wellness. I have decided to make the pursuit of good health my life's objective, and I want to encourage people to do the same.
Swarthy Lion is now a Behavioral Health & Wellness service that provides ABA Therapy, Behavior Consultation, and encouraging individuals and families to seek cohesive treatment options to address concerns with mental and physical health. While I am happy to counsel you through the pursuit of achieving already defined wellness goals, I am not qualified to create wellness support plans or provide you with tools for achieving said goals. I can, however, tell you what works for best me. So join me on a journey to better health. Subscribe to join the Lion Tribe and stay tuned for more wellness posts. Get well.