Embracing My Mental Health: Kierra Gray

  1. How do you view your Mental Health

I view by mental health as a reflection of my wellbeing. Many people, especially in the Black community, don’t take mental health as seriously as physical health because it can’t be seen, only observed. Any behavior out of the “norm” is categorized as crazy, which only does everyone a disservice. My mental health is a top priority because if I don’t work hard to take care of my entire wellbeing, I am no good to anyone.

2. What serves as your therapy?

One-on-one therapy serves as my main source, but I have created a team around me while also incorporating daily, weekly, and monthly rituals to help me feel optimal. I work out at least three times a week at a women’s gym and practice yoga. I pray and meditate to help keep myself grounded and peaceful. I also journal to organize my thoughts to be able to look back on my growth. I listen to inspiring podcasts and affirmations. I practice my spirituality to help manifest my goals and live out my divine purpose.

3. How do you balance your emotions, behavior, attitudes?

I balance my emotions, behavior, and attitudes by noticing my triggers and creating useful coping mechanisms. I also take antidepressants. We need to de-stigmatize taking medication because it could be the thing that saves someone’s life. Depression is often a chemical imbalance that needs to be treated like any other physical ailment. I am constantly learning and evolving. In order to keep myself in check, I am learning to stop my thoughts before they spiral out of control by learning my negative thought patterns.

4. Are there any mental health stigmas you’ve supported and stood by?

I used to think everyone would judge me and call me crazy if I took medication for my clinical major depression and generalized anxiety disorder. I didn’t take medication for a long time, but I am figuring out a regimen that works for me to radically heal. I need to be gentler and more compassionate with myself.

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5. What have you learned about mental health that you did not know?

I may have known, but I didn’t realize the toll that others face when dealing with family and friends who struggle with their mental health. As someone who deals with severe depression and anxiety, I realized the people in my life didn’t or still don’t know how to support me. I learned I need to teach people how to treat me on top of learning how to treat myself.

6. Do you believe that mental health issues are throughout your family? Perhaps overlooked?

I do believe mental health issues are throughout my family. I come from Black family that can make you feel bad for seeking mental health help while ignoring their own obvious trauma. I believe some family members are undiagnosed, but everyone has their own journey and ideas about mental health they need to unlearn. It’s not our job to save everyone. We can only provide the information ad hope they take it.

7. On days that can be challenging, how do you nurture yourself?

I take a step back and try to remember what triggered me, how I am over extending myself, and that radical compassion for myself can go a long way. I try to remember that I am only human and everyone has their days.

8. How are you helping spread the word on mental health awareness?

I am helping spread the word by discussing mental health on my own platform. I am the creator of The Roadmap Back, a platform for mothers to honor themselves in the midst of motherhood. The roadmap back means using your inner compass to find the light we had before society got the best of us. As a Black woman pursing a Masters in Social Work with a focus on interpersonal practice and mental health, I want to reach as many women as I can through my platform to de-stigmatize seeking mental health help.

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